Politics & Policy

Faith of Our Mothers

The Obama-Biden disconnect.

Denver“Well, this is not a picnic for me either, Buster.”

So Barack Obama recalled his mother saying to him as a child “when I grumbled.”

Obama would go on to explain that “each of us can make what we want for our lives.”

Thanks so very much, Senator Obama, for the permission.

It wasn’t the first time during the Democratic convention that we learned of the innately conservative message of a mother. The night before, vice presidential nominee Joseph Biden relayed:

As a child, I stuttered, and she lovingly would look at me and tell me, “Joey, it’s because you’re so bright you can’t get the thoughts out quickly enough.”

When I was not as well-dressed as the other kids, she’d look at me and say, “Joey, oh, you’re so handsome, honey, you’re so handsome.”

And when I got knocked down by guys bigger than me — and this is the God’s truth — she sent me back out and said, “Bloody their nose so you can walk down the street the next day.” And that’s what I did.

You know — and after the accident, she told me, she said, “Joey, God sends no cross that you cannot bear.” And when I triumphed, my mother was quick to remind me it was because of others.

The problem with these beautiful stories is that the mother-knows-best revelations were antithetical to the overarching message of the convention. It was a convention that trotted out able-bodied men and women who had fallen on hard times. We were supposed to believe that the government of Barack Obama is going to not only remedy their situations, heal their wounds, but magically prevent such misfortune in the first place.

Their litany of Americans with sorrows they paraded in front of the classical columns Thursday night at Mile High Stadium was infuriating. Especially when introduced by Senator Biden, who said that when you get “knocked down, [you] get back up.” That’s exactly the message, he tells us, his mother taught him. That’s exactly what he did when his wife and children died in a car accident.

Perhaps Biden’s mother should run for president (In her nineties, she’d take the age issue off the table for McCain). Both Mrs. Biden and Barack Obama’s mother sound like they both taught their sons the kind of responsibility you build a nation on. Unfortunately, even though their sons seem to have an appreciation for the virtue, they don’t connect the dots when it comes to public policy.

On Thursday night, Barack Obama said:

In Washington, they call this the “Ownership Society,” but what it really means is that you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck, you’re on your own. No health care? The market will fix it. You’re on your own. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, even if you don’t have boots. You are on your own.


Well, it’s time for them to own their failure. It’s time for us to change America. And that’s why I’m running for president of the United States.

A boot for every American! That’s the government’s job, evidently. It’s very far away from the lessons of their mothers.

 – Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of National Review Online.


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