Many many years ago, when I was a mere infant, it seems, a columnist for my paper took offense at Hillary Clinton’s oft-used African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” This has always, always seemed to me to be a simple, even banal, bit of common sense. We look out for one another and especially for children. You don’t learn every single thing from your parents; no family is an island. We all watch a movie about it every year at Christmastime. D’ya know me, Bert? My mouth’s bleedin’!
Anyway, this writer wrote a column with the headline “The village won’t raise my kid,” and oh, the love poured in, fists shaking at that non-cookie baker, Hillary Clinton. Parents raise children, not villages! And so on.
Again, I never understood why this was seen as some big deal. Hillary wasn’t advocating for institutional care or re-education camps or anything else, only decent schools and health care and a functional society that looks after its most helpless members. But my mind doesn’t work the way some do.
Gail Collins recently wrote a column about a chapter in history I knew nothing about — the attempt, by Walter Mondale, to pass a national program of preschool education.
Mondale’s Comprehensive Child Development Act was a bipartisan bill, which passed 63 to 17 in the Senate. It was an entitlement, and, if it had become law, it would have been one entitlement for little children in a world where most of the money goes to the elderly.
…The destruction of his bill was one of the earliest victories of the new right. “The federal government should not be in the business of raising America’s children. It was a political and ideological ideal of great importance,” Pat Buchanan once told me. He was working at the White House when the bill reached Nixon’s desk, and he helped write the veto message. He spoke about this achievement with great pride.
This is preschool we’re talking about. Preschool.
I don’t follow political news as obsessively as some people do, but this story did catch my eye, about an MSNBC personality who said much the same thing. Headline: “Why caring for children is not just a parent’s job.” Fightin’ words!
Of course, common sense tells us we do this every day — entrust our children to others. Relatives, babysitters, scoutmasters, etc. The headline said not just a parent’s job, not not ever. But that didn’t stop the backlash; Rich Lowry’s response is typical, and typically dumb:
As the ultimate private institution, the family is a stubborn obstacle to the great collective effort. Insofar as people invest in their own families, they are holding out on the state and unacceptably privileging their own kids over the children of others. These parents are selfish, small-minded, and backward. “Once it’s everybody’s responsibility,” Harris-Perry said of child-rearing, “and not just the households, then we start making better investments.”
I just sprained by eyeballs, rolling them. Does everything have to be culture war? Can’t we agree on anything as simple as “kids should be looked after by everyone.” You’d think.
Well, let’s hop to the bloggage and I’ll watch “Southland.”
I’m growing weary of the Roger Ebert stories, but a few gems are still coming down the sluice. This one, by the author of the story that Ebert “hated, hated, hated, hated, hated,” is pretty good.
For you “Mad Men” fans, the complete quips of Roger Sterling.
Bedtime approaches. Let’s have a good Thursday.