The Obama administration has offered in two high-level addresses the crystallization of all that is wrong in its course.
Yesterday, President Barack Obama went to Osawatomie, Kansas. He chose that location because of his own Kansas roots and because former President Theodore Roosevelt gave a famous speech there in 1910.
Mr. Obama should do more of this. Theodore Roosevelt is rightly a beloved figure for millions of Americans. His 1910 Osawatomie speech, however, was the beginning of a disastrous course for him and for America. TR’s sharp left turn in Kansas led him directly to his 1912 “Bull Moose” third-party challenge of incumbent Republican President Taft and the Democratic nominee, Governor Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey.
TR never made the mistake of thinking that inequality of income — per se — was the core evil to be addressed by government. Roosevelt, unlike Mr. Obama, did not attend Marxist Scholars Conferences to drink deeply from that poisoned well of resentment. But TR did call for national health care in his ill-fated 1912 campaign. American voters — who had loved TR and given him an unprecedented landslide in 1904 — firmly rejected his message in 1912.
Theodore Roosevelt alarmed his former friend and colleague, William Howard Taft, with his call for popular referendums to correct judicial rulings. Does this mean Mr. Obama will now line up with groups like Family Research Council to back popular referendums on marriage? Will he get behind statewide marriage measures in Minnesota and North Carolina? Will he demand that voters in Massachusetts and New York have a chance to vote on preserving marriage? Not at all.
President Theodore Roosevelt was the first to highlight Census divorce statistics. He powerfully defended traditional marriage and childbearing. He was legitimately concerned about declining birth rates.
Mr. Obama and his administration keep Planned Barrenhood in business — shoveling billions to their lethal efforts. Because of them, six in ten pregnancies in Harlem end in abortion.
Even if we accept Mr. Obama’s premise — that middle-class Americans need what TR called a “Square Deal” — the breakdown in marriage is the leading cause of income inequality. Married couples live longer, healthier, more prosperous lives. Their children are better cared for, do better in school, and have higher income prospects.
The Obama administration is a marriage-ender and cannot seriously address poverty in America. This is especially important in the black community. Black children whose parents are married thrive in comparison to their less favored fellow students.
Now, Secretary Hillary Clinton has gone to Geneva to promote human rights. She spoke with respect to the U.N.’s Human Rights Council. There, Mrs. Clinton spoke to delegates from such tyrannical regimes as Libya (suspended), China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Cuba.
As former Libyan diplomats and Cuban refugees have told us, they sit at these U.N. conference tables with guns at their heads — figuratively, if not literally. And it was to this body that Hillary Clinton came, hat in hand, to apologize for America’s mistreatment of homosexuals.
Surely, Madame Secretary includes in her list of mea culpas the efforts of 32 states to defend marriage as the union of one man and one woman. According to the Obama administration, it is “discrimination” not to accord marital rights to same-sex couplings.
This is the same U.N. that cheered the rabidly anti-American, violently anti-Israel speeches of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and which colluded for decades in the murderous dictatorship of Muammar Gadhafi. Don’t ask what respect Gadhafi gave to women’s rights. He filled his days with wild rants and his nights with Viagra.
Ahmadinejad’s homicidal regime in Iran is the leading exporter of terror in the world. The Obama administration offered Iran “an open hand and not a clenched fist.” How will this administration be able to stop Iran from hanging young homosexual men when it cannot stop them from supplying weapons to Hamas and Hezbollah?
In these two speeches, delivered an ocean apart, we see the fruits of a failed administration, forever pursuing the wrong remedies for many problems they have either created or made worse. Human rights are indeed vitally important. This administration cares less about religious liberty — that firm foundation upon which civil rights stand — than it does about pandering to the bundlers of campaign donations.
Every person should be free to “sit under his own vine and fig tree,” in the beautiful words of Scripture quoted to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport by our first president, George Washington. “And there should be none to make him afraid.”
That magnificent address has been the watchword for America at her best. That is the message President Obama and Secretary Clinton should be taking to a world in need.
Ken Blackwell is a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission and a member of the Council of Foreign Relations.