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Playing Politics with the Federal Fatherhood Initiative
June 14, 2006
by Carey Roberts

Last week the Pope issued a wake-up call to persons of all religious persuasions. "Never before in history," the pontiff warned, has the family "been so threatened as in today's culture." As the traditional defender and protector of the family, it's no surprise that fathers and fatherhood have taken the brunt of the Leftist-feminist onslaught.

Fatherhood has come under attack on six fronts:

  1. Smearing dads with the "patriarchal" epithet
  2. Claiming that fathers and mothers are socially interchangeable
  3. Removing fathers' legal say in abortion decisions
  4. Encouraging moms to summarily evict their husbands under the pretext of domestic "abuse"
  5. Allowing inequities in child custody awards
  6. Enacting child support laws that send men to jail for not paying money that they don't have in the first place

No wonder American families are falling apart. And no surprise that so many eligible bachelors avow no interest in marriage.

Back in 1995 president Bill Clinton directed all federal agencies to review their programs with an eye to strengthening fatherhood. With the high-profile backing of vice president Al Gore, the federal Fatherhood Initiative sprang to life. Conferences were held, research agendas were developed, and fathers were on a roll.

But the Lavender Ladies began to fret over the "infiltration" of fathers' rights groups and plotted to throw a monkey-wrench into the operation. Finally someone had a stroke of genius: we'll insert the adjectival "responsible" before the word "fatherhood." Who could ever oppose that?

So in his June 17, 2000 Father's Day radio address, Bill Clinton gave his blessing to the catechism of Responsible Fatherhood, making it clear that responsible dads always make their child support payments on time.

Problem is, that high-sounding phrase is a demeaning affront to fathers. It's like saying mothers need to be taught how to be nurturing, and of course we need a government program to take care of that. What mom in her right mind would ever go to a class called, "Caring Motherhood"?

With the Fatherhood Initiative now under the ideological thumb of the child support zealots, the whole effort quickly lost its momentum.

A few months later George W. Bush was elected on a platform that included shoring up the traditional family. Bush tapped Wade Horn to head up the Administration for Children and Families, a gargantuan $49 billion welfare bureaucracy that covers everything from Head Start, child abuse, homeless youth, and child support enforcement.

A psychologist by training, Dr. Horn had served as president of the National Fatherhood Initiative for eight years. Horn seemed destined to be the go-to guy to re-focus and re-energize the Fatherhood Initiative.

In the religious tradition, confession must precede atonement. Unfortunately, the Administration for Children and Families has never admitted the heinous sin of Great Society welfare programs that made fathers redundant, thus decimating the traditional family in low-income communities.

Wade Horn did not wish to do battle with his own Office for Child Support Enforcement. In fact, he became its vocal proponent. In 2003 Horn wrote in Crisis magazine, "In such cases, are we to simply turn our backs on negligent non-custodial parents who refuse to support their children financially?"

That stinks like a pile of fresh barnyard manure.

Everyone knows that the problem of non-payment of child support is concentrated among low-income fathers. It's not Lexus-driving dads who have "negligently" abandoned their kids. The problem is a scandalous government program that saddles poor men with a debt they can never hope to pay off.

The disinformation continues when we are told that responsible fatherhood also means reducing the "violence committed by men." Shame on the ACF for ignoring the well-known fact that women are just as likely - or even more prone - to engage in domestic violence.

Eventually even well-meaning bureaucrats began to lose interest. Check out the Fatherhood Initiative's "What's New" page, and you'll see its "new" information was last updated one year ago on June 20, 2005.

Guess not much is happening with fatherhood these days.

The Fatherhood Initiative has become an orphan program that the Sisterhood would happily kill off, but the higher-ups know that would be politically embarrassing. So the Initiative now floats in bureaucratic cyberspace with no defined mandate, leadership, operating structure, or budget.

So as we celebrate Father's Day this year, we might reflect on Bill Clinton's disingenuous radio address six years ago, and how the red-fems schemed to leave millions of American boys and girls without their daddies.

One only hopes that God will be merciful.

Carey Roberts has been published frequently in the Washington Times, Townhall.com, LewRockwell.com, ifeminists.net, Intellectual Conservative, and elsewhere. He is a staff reporter for the New Media Alliance.

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