I just read Barack Obama’s Father’s Day speech, and it is quite good. Liberals, in their quite just desire to see the end of repressive social pressures and cultural norms, can sometimes overlook the fact that we humans are both determined and free, that there is nature as well as nurture, that sometimes your troubles really are your own fault. Obama clearly shows himself here as a true centrist: he completely avoids this potential liberal blind spot, urging fathers (in this case) to cowboy up and be there for their families, something that conservatives have been (also justly) calling for for decades. But neither does he assume that all problems are just the business of those who have them, resorting to the conservative default that personal problems should lie well under the radar of the general polity and be cured by some mysterious updraft of capital. Here’s a nice quote that sort of sums up this truly bi-partisan (or a-partisan) oration:
Yes, we need more cops on the street. Yes, we need fewer guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. Yes, we need more money for our schools, and more outstanding teachers in the classroom, and more afterschool programs for our children. Yes, we need more jobs and more job training and more opportunity in our communities.
But we also need families to raise our children. We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child – it’s the courage to raise one.
Not bad, eh? I really recommend the whole text. It seems to be aimed exactly at the point where red and blue states intersect, and not in an insincere or bet-hedging way. I keep liking this guy more and more.