Women — mothers, daughters, workers, working mothers of daughters — were dealt so much lip service during the 2012 presidential election and inauguration that it was nice to hear the president acknowledge the male role in human reproduction in his State of the Union address last night.
“We’ll work to strengthen families by removing the financial deterrents to marriage for low-income couples, and doing more to encourage fatherhood,” the president said, “because what makes you a man isn’t the ability to conceive a child; it’s having the courage to raise one.”
Putting aside for now how bananas it would have sounded if he’d said the equivalent about being a woman, the line got a standing ovation from Republicans and a Twittergasm from #tcot, presumably because dads are the No. 1 enemy of America’s twin evils, single motherhood (which Mitt Romney taught us causes gun violence) and abortions. Obama has stressed the importance of fathers in closing the poverty/crime/education gap for children raised in single-parent households every Father’s Day since he took office, with various task forces, public service announcements, barbershop outreach initiatives, and by supporting George W. Bush’s Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Programs.
But all the applause was probably not to suggest that the GOP approves of Obama personally being a dad. Last year, party members criticized the president for spending the early evening hours being a father to Sasha and Malia when he ought to have been buttering up Republicans. And let’s not even get into the questionable value of socialist, Kenyan fathers. Anyway, it seems like you really can’t win with this stuff. We’ll save a seat for the president next to Beyoncé at our next Why Can’t We Have It All? knitting circle.