Gabriel Garnica
"Four days and seven hours ago, I asked my son Tad how we could end this terrible war"
By Gabriel Garnica
May 12, 2012

Imagine if Abraham Lincoln had started his famous Gettysburg Address this way! Perhaps ten-year-old Tad could have provided our greatest president with pearls of wisdom that would have paved the way to a quicker peace. For that matter, one can only wonder how the wheels of history would have turned had FDR stated, in his famous First Inaugural Speech almost exactly seven decades later, "my teenage son John recently reminded me that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Perhaps our nation would have been moved by this infusion of teen insight to emerge even stronger from those difficult depression days.

Just 28 years later, JFK would deliver an equally memorable Inaugural Address, with an equally memorable line. Yet, one can only meditate in awe of what great things could have been accomplished by a nation leading the world into the latter part of the century had Kennedy stated " ask not what your country can do for you — ask Caroline how we can solve our nation's problems." Oh, how different a world we might live in had each of these leaders, facing difficult times at the helm of this nation, traversing division and debate over major issues, and looking for divine guidance from above, merely opted to seek that guidance, not from above but, rather, from below, in the form of sage advice from their children or teens. After all, who better to provide guidance to the greatest nation on earth than our "first children," so to speak?

Alas, we need not wonder what would happen should our leaders invoke their children's guidance and counsel. After all, Presidents Carter and Obama have mentioned their daughters' advice regarding great national debates and issues. During his now infamous 1980 presidential debate, Carter began his steady slide to election oblivion by informing us that his 13-year-old daughter Amy had identified nuclear disarmament as the most important issue at hand.

Not to be outdone, President Obama has recently mentioned his daughters Malia, aged 13 , and Sasha, aged 10 , on two occasions. First, he informed us that he contacted Sandra Fluke during the Georgetown contraception mess precisely because he thought of his daughters. Then, just days ago, he actually told us that part of the reason he came out in support of same sex marriage was through discussions with his daughters. As Bristol Palin has recently pointed out in her blog such a proclamation should leave any sane, rational adult and voter scratching their head.

In fact, the sheer absurdity of this situation is made even more ludicrous, not to mention arrogant, by the notion that the views of two children can tip the balance regarding issues and causes which impact millions of people and thousands of years of belief, as if everyone, and everything, that existed before was some "un-cool" or "nerdy" thing to be tossed out with the latest pubescent fad. Of course, we know full well that this supposed tipping point, this alleged counsel, by these two girls is as fictitious as that audacity of hope that preceded it. However, it is not that audacity of hope but, rather, the audacity to even pretend that one makes major national and even world decisions based on the views of children, that is ultimately troubling and at issue here.

Given this latest development, we may need to start vetting the views of our presidential candidates' children . After all, many people might not feel comfortable voting for a candidate whose teenage daughter looks to the boy group One Direction for deep philosophical guidance lest "What Makes You Beautiful" be considered a worthy replacement for "God Bless America."

Beyond the sheer absurdity of invoking one's children to determine major policy decisions that involve millions of people, I wonder why Obama thought it helpful to consider how his daughters would feel if they were Sandra Fluke but not Sarah or Bristol Palin listening to Bill Maher viciously mock Sarah's son and Bristol's brother who has Down's Syndrome? I wonder if Obama, who calls himself a Christian almost as often as he says "I," asked his daughters how they would feel if Dan Savage viciously attacked their Christianity and the Bible to their face?

I guess that President Obama only consults his daughters to support the views, causes, and people he already supports and not to chime in regarding causes and people he would just as well leave swinging in the wind. Obama tells us that he wants his daughters to be able to express their views, even ones he does not agree with, yet he himself never moves a finger to defend those very views and people. If, by some miracle, one of his daughters should come out against abortion, one would have to have the intelligence of a doorknob to believe that Obama would be swayed by that daughter's view, much less mention it in a thoughtful, staged, softball interview.

Days before being sworn in, Barack Obama wrote an emotional letter to his daughters which, unlike his school records, was promptly published far and wide.. In that letter, Obama writes that he wants them and every child to "grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who help build that world."

In view of his abortion policy, I guess he forgot to write ".....unless you're seen as more a punishment or inconvenience than a blessing, in which case please ignore the above wish." I find it so ironic that a man so eager to attract the young would be so willing to terminate the youngest of them all

While I cannot believe that any world leader would actually use his children as political props, pretend to consult them on any major decision or, much less, proclaim that fiction as some feather in his or her cap, I understand that this is all part of an elaborate plan to win, and keep, the young vote. This is why Barack Obama can be seen strutting up to college stages all over America. This is why he can be heard pretending to be swayed by his young daughters' views. This is why he would probably win in a landslide if the voting age was lowered to seven and his Obama youth were allowed to chime in on which candidate was the coolest.

Abraham Lincoln, FDR, and JFK clearly missed a golden opportunity on this one. Jimmy Carter's fumbling attempt to use it backfired. How Bill Clinton failed to exploit Chelsea's views on the Middle East is beyond me. Barack Obama, however, is turning this ploy into an art form and, if you cannot see how, I suggest you ask your 12-year-old.

© Gabriel Garnica


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


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