Posts Tagged ‘statesmanship’
February 23rd, 2013 at 8:09 pm
Studies Don’t Support Obama’s Pre-K Initiative

After surveying the leading studies on early childhood intervention, social scientist Charles Murray offers sobering, and much-needed, advice on what’s really at stake:

So what should we make of all this? The take-away from the story of early childhood education is that the very best programs probably do a modest amount of good in the long run, while the early education program that can feasibly be deployed on a national scale, Head Start, has never proved long-term results in half a century of existence. In the most rigorous evaluation ever conducted, Head Start doesn’t show results that persist even until the third grade.

Let me rephrase this more starkly: As of 2013, no one knows how to use government programs to provide large numbers of small children who are not flourishing with what they need. It’s not a matter of money. We just don’t know how.

Asking [the right] questions forces us to confront a reality that politicians and other opinion leaders have ducked for decades: America has far too many children born to men and women who do not provide safe, warm and nurturing environments for their offspring — not because there’s no money to be found for food, clothing and shelter, but because they are not committed to fulfilling the obligations that child-bearing brings with it.

This head-in-the-sand attitude has to change. If we don’t know how to substitute for absent, uncaring or incompetent parenting with outside interventions, then we have to think about how we increase the odds that children are born to present, caring and competent parents.

Answering Murray’s questions would require a different sort of leadership than proposing yet another multi-billion dollar federal program.  In a word, it would require statesmanship.

Don’t expect the current president to be rising to that challenge any time soon.

July 5th, 2012 at 5:27 pm
Obama Defender: “It Doesn’t Matter If He Made Stuff Up”

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Maraniss’ new book, Barack Obama: The Story documents nearly three dozen instances where the President misstated facts about his life in Dreams From My Father.

Among other defenses of Obama’s deliberate misstatements reported by Fox News’ James Rosen, this one takes the cake:

Gerald Early, a noted professor of English literature and African-American studies at Washington University in St. Louis, agreed. “It really doesn’t matter if he made up stuff,” Early told Fox News. “I mean, after all, it’s like you going to a psychiatrist and you make up stuff, and the psychiatrist can still psychoanalyze you because they’re your lies.”

My only regret is that Professor Early didn’t tighten up his argument so it can fit on a bumper sticker because it perfectly captures so much of what’s wrong with modern liberalism’s catechism.

Then again, maybe “It really doesn’t matter if Obama made up stuff…” could be understood to mean:

“…since he already got elected.”

“…because he can count on the Supreme Court to bail him out.”

“…because comprehensive health care reform is a BFD.”

“…since voters don’t care about integrity, just a President who can slow jam the news.”

November 18th, 2011 at 2:53 pm
Paul Ryan at Claremont

Recently, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) delivered the keynote address after receiving the Claremont Institute’s Churchill Award for Statesmanship.  The text of his remarks are available here, with the conclusion reminding us why Ryan will likely be the first name on any GOP Vice President list next summer:

Congresses are elected to promote the common good of our country. And Congress has the power to take control of our nation’s fate, and to reclaim popular trust in government.

We face a choice of two futures in this country. But I am optimistic that if we give Americans a clear choice, they will do the right thing. As Churchill put it, “Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing… but only after they have exhausted all other possibilities.”

Look, Republicans didn’t always get it right as a party ourselves. But if there ever was a time to gather our political courage and reclaim our ideas, it is now. The country is facing a very precarious moment.

Your leaders owe you a real choice. Do you want the President’s path of debt, doubt and decline, where government goes from promoting equal opportunity to equalizing the results of our lives?

Or do you want the American idea: the opportunity society with the safety net, dedicated to liberty, equality of opportunity, and upward mobility?

It is our moral obligation, as elected representatives, to give the American people this choice.

And if we do our jobs right, then we will soon have the duty, and the privilege, to make that vision a reality.

Let it be said of us, as Churchill said of his people in their most difficult hour: “We ought to rejoice at the responsibilities with which destiny has honored us… and be proud that we are guardians of our country in an age when her life is at stake.”

June 1st, 2011 at 1:50 pm
California’s Criminal Lack of Leadership

Last week I wrote about California’s prison dilemma: mandatory sentencing laws combined with too few prisons.  So far, the choice has been presented as between less time for criminals or more taxes for the law-abiding.  An update by the Debra Saunders doesn’t paint a prettier picture:

Even law-and-order types understand that the system must be streamlined. Nina Salarno Ashford of Crime Victims United told me, “I understand budget constraints.” For example, parole violators should go to jail – not prison. But Salarno looks at overcrowded jails, which already have had to release inmates, and fears the consequences.

How do you pay for it?

“It is probably going to take taxes,” she answered.

No lie. There is not much point in keeping taxes low – only to have some lowlife boost your wallet.

On the other hand, there’s not much point in paying higher taxes if the state slashes the number of inmates by 40,000.

Now that the United States Supreme Court has demanded California reduce its overcrowded prison population by over 40,000, there may not be enough time to raise taxes and build adequate prison space even if Californians wanted to.

If ever there was a need for statesmanship from California’s executive and legislative leaders, this is it.  Otherwise, when tens of thousands of felons are freed, there will literally be rioting in the streets.

August 22nd, 2010 at 3:31 pm
Is Thomas Friedman Defending the Bush Doctrine?

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman offers what may be the most thought-provoking commentary on the withdrawal of American combat forces from Iraq:

In short: the key struggle with Islam is not inter-communal, and certainly not between Americans and Muslims. It is intra-communal and going on across the Muslim world. The reason the Iraq war was, is and will remain important is that it created the first chance for Arab Sunnis and Shiites to do something they have never done in modern history: surprise us and freely write their own social contract for how to live together and share power and resources. If they could do that, in the heart of the Arab world, and actually begin to ease the intra-communal struggle within Islam, it would be a huge example for others. It would mean that any Arab country could be a democracy and not have to be held together by an iron fist from above.

Considered in the most favorable light, this was the hope propelling former President George W. Bush’s decision to depose Saddam Hussein.  If Iraq could be successful, then the path would be open to other Arab nations to trade the strong man model for stronger civil society.

So far, the jury is still out; especially with Iraqi politicians locked in disputes over a power-sharing agreement after an inconclusive national election.  (Perhaps if the U.S. State Department had exported our winner-take-all system instead of the Europeans’ proportional scheme, the Iraqis would at least be able to get on with governing after they vote.)

Friedman’s column is a welcome addition to the debate about how the United States can best remake other countries.  As of August 2010, probably not much.  At the end of the day, the solution to what ails the Muslim world lies in the ingenuity and statesmanship not of some “great man” ready to play the part of George Washington or Nelson Mandela, but in the collective will of the Iraqi people.