As soon as John Edwards announced he’s running for President, Rich Lowry runs an attack op-ed over at the National Review. As usual, Mr. Lowry shoots and misses. Lowry is arguing that Edwards ducks some sort of marriage issue when Edwards notes the issue of poverty. Before you say that Lowry has lost his mind, let’s take a look at his argument:
Edwards’s anti-poverty proposals aren’t compelling because they fail to acknowledge a basic truth: It is impossible “to grow the middle class,” as he puts it, without spreading middle-class values. Edwards famously talks of “two Americas.” In one America, by and large, women find a suitable mate, marry him and then have a baby. In the other America, by and large, women have the baby first, creating nearly insurmountable difficulties for themselves on the path to the middle class. Edward tiptoes up to this point. In a major speech on poverty last year, he referred to the social ills besetting young mothers who “aren’t married.” But his prescription for this problem is to excoriate teen parenthood and say that people should be expected “to hold off having kids until they’re ready.” He refuses to offer as the obvious solution the M-word that rhymes with carriage. This is because the word “marriage” is something of a taboo in the Democratic party unless it is prefaced by “gay.” But marriage is the crux of the matter, not age or being “ready.” The recent surge of out-of-wedlock births is not taking place among teens, but young adults. Only roughly 14 percent of out-of-wedlock births are to women in high school. The Left wants to address out-of-wedlock births through distributing condoms in high school and collecting more child-support payments from absent fathers. But most of these births are deliberate, so birth control is irrelevant, and child support is no substitute for a father in the home.
Let me see if I understand what Lowry is saying. The problem is not that women are giving birth to kids too early. Oh no – that’s a good thing. The problem is that those they had sex with aren’t forced to marry the mother. So if we had shotgun marriages – poverty in America would be eliminated. Someone call Brad DeLong as I think his contest on Stupidest Man Alive is over. Congratulations to Rich Lowry for winning fist place.