Mr. Obama cited the need for stronger law enforcement services and resources for education, more job opportunities and other resources for communities.There are a lot of women raising children alone — or with another woman — who don't like to think that their children are missing some special "guide" or "leader" because there is no male parent figure. This is not to say that such women don't see the value of a good father, only that they find something offensive in saying that the "male figure" in particular is needed. And Obama is saying that it is so important that it left a hole in his heart:
“But we also need families to raise our children,” he said. “We need fathers to realize that responsibility doesn’t just end at conception. That doesn’t just make you a father. What makes you a man is not the ability to have a child. Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.”
“I know the toll it took on me, not having a father in the house,” he continued. “The hole in your heart when you don’t have a male figure in the home who can guide you and lead you. So I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the cycle — that that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father to my children."Now, I know what he is trying to do is to push more men to be involved in their children's lives, but the way he is saying it, he is siding with traditionalists who think the male role is special, distinctive, and necessary.
ADDED: Matt Yglesias strains this out:
This one will, I expect, be a pretty big hit politically, too, since it has certain conservativish resonances about the centrality of family conditions to our social problems.Pussyfooting is so loud. You'll have to click on the link to figure out whether Matt agrees with the NYT that Obama was talking about black men.
IN THE COMMENTS:
Obviously his mom did a pretty decent job raising him...I said:
Actually, he spent a lot of the time with his grandparents, and his grandfather was the father figure. Maybe he should read Clarence Thomas's memoir ("My Grandfather's Son").Thomas, like Obama, spent much of his youth living with his married grandparents. Thomas lavishes credit on his grandfather. Perhaps Obama would say that Thomas does have a hole in his heart.
Zachary Paul Sire said:
Obama is just pandering and doing what he's "supposed" to be doing...same thing goes for him helping fill sandbags in Iowa.Palladian said:
So you're admitting that he's a phony liar? That he doesn't actually believe what he's saying? That he's just lying to the "heartland" in order to get elected and implement his anemic socialism?William said:
If this is true, then where's this "change" we've heard so much about? Or is that, as many of us suspect, just another empty political lie? If he's willing to lie and pander to the "heartland" about the need for fathers then what makes you assume that he isn't lying about all that "hope" and "change" nonsense in order to pander to urban liberals?
Wow, yesterday Obama came out in favor of bike helmets and today we note that he is in favor of fatherhood. He certainly is not afraid to take a forthright stand on the tough issues....We are all pocked with emptiness. It is what we use to fill up those empty spaces that defines us. I wonder if the Rev Wright wasn't in some way a father figure. If the abandonment by his father was the central trauma of his life, then Obama has re-enacted that trauma with the Rev Wright. And perhaps he will find some other blowhard to re-enact it with again. I think O'Neill, no stranger to childhood trauma, observed that the past is never really past. We keep revisiting the same pain, hoping to make it turn out right. And it never does.Unfairly psychoanalytical? Obama's text invites it.
Lou Minatti said:
Ya'll do realize this was Obama's Sister Souljah speech, right? The speech wasn't aimed at men who abandon their families, it was aimed at white middle-of-the-roaders, aka Reagan Democrats.Amba said:
It's not so much that men and women have different roles. Their roles are much more alike now than they used to be. It's not what they do but what they are: how they sound, how they feel, how they smell. A sense of protection and authority emanates from a man because his voice is deep and his body is solid. This is very primal. It's like the sun and the moon.This reminds me of a conversation I had recently about whether, in an egalitarian heterosexual relationship, the man should protect the woman and whether she should want the feeling of being protected.
AJ Lynch said:
Is it hard to write a book in tribute to your father after he has left a hole in your heart?I think Obama knows he failed his mother by concentrating on his father the way he did, but, to be fair, the book is not so much a "tribute" to his father as it is a search for what he missed and an expression of regret for loss. As he said in the speech at the church yesterday, he made that longing for a father central to his own life as he became the good father he did not have.
FYI - Senator Obama is a phony.
ADDED: Donald Douglas says he was "surprised" that I "ridiculed Obama's speech from a feminist perspective." Where did I ridicule him? My point is that he disrespected a point of feminist dogma. I didn't take a position on the correctness of the dogma. I just want everyone to see that he crossed feminism here. I want that noticed. He threw a bone to traditionalists, and you were so into gnawing it that you didn't notice that I was not talking about whether children need fathers.