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Friday, February 27, 2009

Obama's Trickle-Down Marriage

Will it never stop? The deification of Obama, is what I'm talking about. Now it's Obama's marriage that is historic and a teaching lesson for the rest of us dim-witted wife-beaters. This, from a column in the Ithaca Journal written by Elizabeth Einstein (what else!):
Never has a presidential marriage created such a commotion.... For those of us in the field of marriage education, the real excitement from the election is in witnessing the healthy marriage model the Obama family presents to our citizens.
The "field of marriage education." Is there really such a thing? But I digress. Has there never been a decent presidential marriage in modern history? Well only if you ignore the marriages of Republicans (Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush '41, Bush '43) and one Democrat (Carter), or if you are so consumed with the need to adulate Obama that you choose to ignore history in discussing history. Or is there an unspoken, racially-tinged subtext here: How nice to see a healthfully-married black couple.

But it gets worse:
This is important because, in 1996, Congress followed findings that said marriage is the foundation of a successful society and that marriage is an essential institution of keeping a society strong.
Oh, Congress made findings that marriage is an essential institution to keep society strong. Absent such a congressional finding, would marriage still be essential?
Obama already teaches important realities we in the marriage movement have long promoted in our books, classes and programs - awareness and skills.
Good thing Obama teaches us to have healthy marriages. Absent such a lesson, we all would be lost.
Hopefully, the effect of observing this fine marriage model trickles down and encourages couples to strengthen their marriages and gain the benefits that social scientists identify... And there are many. Researchers find that children who live within a healthy marriage succeed more academically, have fewer behavioral problems and are more likely to attend college.
There we go. Trickle-down marriage so that we can justify social science. And that may be the most important benefit of the Obama marriage: Justifying what social scientists do. And by the way, this columnist better be careful. All the harping on the benefits to society of stable marriages with children is not politically correct. Why do you hate single moms?
Married men and women also fare better. Many adult benefits parallel the children's, but two significant ones are that they live longer and are wealthier. Ultimately, when we have a higher percentage of couples in healthy marriages, this trickles down to our communities. Physically and emotionally healthy couples enjoy a higher rate of education, home ownership and property values so communities benefit from lower crime statistics, domestic violence rates, teenage pregnancy and juvenile delinquency. The need for social services decreases.... The best gift you can give your child is a healthy family - like the Obamas!
Now you've gone and done it. You mentioned married "men and women." Please call the nasty right-wing conspiracy. They need a speaker at their next convention.

On reflection, I'm being too harsh on Einstein. Her website is good. She makes sense in a lot of what she says. It's just that the Obama-maniacal twinge taints the point. You can promote healthy marriages without the need to justify what you are saying by crediting Obama for the revelation. But then again, without the Obama-angle, the article probably would not have made it into the newspaper. So maybe Obamamania is just a means to an end.


  1. I'm afraid that Einstein's article, aside from its Obama adoration, sets government (with Obama as a proxy) as a moral compass to judge ourselves by. Moral governemnt is good, but morality determined by government is dangerous. It is one of the reasons for the "free exercise clause."
    I think you're right when you say "without the Obama-angle, the article probably would not have made it into the newspaper" and of course Einstein's article is a minor thing. But the Obama-worshipping by the media often implies the idea that government should determine citizens' morality rather than reflect it.

  2. How does she judge that they have a strong marriage? Because they all smile for the magazine cover shoots? That they don't trash each other in interviews? Because, really, that's as much as it's possible for most of the world to know about them.

    I guess that means the Clintons have a strong marriage too. Who knew it was that easy?

  3. Yes, didn't we once see Bill and Hill dancing on the beach.

  4. See- the thing is, GW Bush was behind all of the funding for marriage education. It may be the thing the two presidents agree the most about. Marriage education is good policy. It is anti-poverty, pro-child, low cost, good for business, lowers health care costs. The high rate of divorce and single parent families in this country is seriously hurting children and costing tax-payers tons of money. I get it if you aren't inspired by the Obama marriage but it is a much more approachable, modern marriage than any recently in D.C. I do not find much to use as an example for young couples in the Clinton marriage but neither do I in either Bush marriage. As a psychologist and a marriage educator, I will use the Obama marriage as a teaching tool.