Monday, June 16, 2008

Obama as Pediatrician-in-Chief

If there was any doubt about his new politics, Barack Obama dispelled them yesterday.

He celebrated Father's Day by calling out African-American men on their failure "to realize that responsibility does not end at conception.”

At one of Chicago's largest black churches, Obama took on a sensitive subject that politicians seldom talk about, especially in a campaign year:

“Too many fathers are MIA, too many fathers are AWOL, missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.”

If one of his themes has been speaking truth to power, Obama is not stopping at the edge of America's racial divide.

Citing his own father, who left when he was two, Obama stressed how lucky he was to have had loving grandparents who helped his mother give him support and opportunities for education.

"A lot of children don't get those chances. There is no margin for error in their lives," he said. "I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the cycle--that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father."

It's not the first time Obama has scolded African-Americans for parenting failures. During the Texas primary, he told them: "It's not good enough for you to say to your child, 'Do good in school.' And then your child comes home, you've got the TV set on, you've got the radio on, you don't check their homework, there's not a book in the house, you've got the video game playing.

"So, turn off the TV set, put the video game away, buy a little desk. Watch them do their homework. If they don't know how to do it, give them help. If you don't know how to do it, call the teacher. Make them go to bed at a reasonable time. Give them some breakfast."

If Obama wins in November, Americans will be getting a new pediatrician-in-chief as well as a president.

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