Third Party & Independents Archives

Romancing the negative

This week’s radio address helps us understand how the White House generates the president’s aura of optimism. By a process of natural selection, the negative is suppressed and simply falls out of his analysis.

Introducing his remarks on the results of the feds' annual "America's Children in Brief" report, Bush states, "The good news is that we have made significant progress during the past decade." This could lead one to presume that the speaker would go on to elaborate the "bad news" and then indicate how he or she were working to improve the situation. But that is mere prejudice.

The "bad news" is clear enough. In the introduction to the report, we read that, "the prevalence of overweight [sic] among U.S. children has increased sharply, and the percentage of children living in poverty rose slightly." Focusing on the latter, Bush spins the negative findings into a positive: "children raised in a household with married parents are far less likely to live in poverty . . . Fortunately, after a decades-long downward trend, the percentage of children living with married parents has remained steady since 1995." Surely, however, it is not good news that even though the percentage of children living with married parents is steady, more children are living in poverty. Not to fear, the president is ready at hand with his "Healthy Marriages Initiative": "And through our proposed Healthy Marriages Initiative, my Administration is committed to ensuring that more of our children grow up in a stable home with a married mother and father." However, as the mission statement of the Healthy Marriage Initiative itself makes clear: "Helping couples form and sustain healthy marriages is not, in itself, an anti-poverty program." It even goes so far as to declare that that the Healthy Marriage Initiative is not "an immediate solution to lifting all families out of poverty." Bush's solution for the reduction of poverty among children is a non sequitur.

It is not surprising that the Bush administration intends to alleviate child-poverty by handing out federal subsidies to the marriage counseling racket. After all, it is not for no reason that the president is mockingly referred to as "George Delano Bush" in some right wing circles. And, no doubt, the cynics are wondering whether this is this just one more way of funneling tax-payer money into religious organizations. But few ask: if marriage is in such a sorry state that its maintenance as an institution requires federal funding, is it not already beyond repair?

Posted by charles sanson at July 19, 2004 5:58 PM