A must-read: Michelle Obama’s dad & America’s crisis—Rich Lowry – NYPOST.com

I commend to your attention this moving piece by National Review editor Rich Lowry praising FLOTUS Michelle Obama’s DNC speech praising her father, Fraser Robinson. Mr. Lowry set aside partisan politics to recognize the character and self-sacrifice of Mr. Robinson.

Lowry correctly points out that Mr. Robinson’s fine qualities are lacking in many of today’s “baby daddy” in our neighborhoods. The OpEd in its entirety follows below.

In one moving sentence, she opened a vista on a life of self-sacrifice.

The narrative arc of her rendition of his life bent upward, and understandably so. He was a working-class father who raised two Princeton University graduates. But she could just as easily have invoked a sense of the country’s loss.

Because we don’t really make Fraser Robinsons anymore. He was a high-school-educated man who married and stayed married, who worked and kept working despite considerable adversity. Whatever his relative lack of education and skills, he was a hero of character, shaped by mores that have been eroding for decades.

According to Michelle’s convention speech and to published accounts, her father was a pump operator at the city water plant in Chicago. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis as a young man, and still got up to work every day.

The first lady described how she watched him “grab his walker, prop himself against the sink and slowly shave and button his uniform.” When he came home, he’d reach down to lift one leg after another to make it up the stairs and greet his kids.

It’s difficult to imagine a more affecting depiction of everyday dutifulness than that. With his wife of 31 years, Marian, Robinson built a family deeply invested in his children’s future.

Too few men in his position now do the same. The 2010 study “When Marriage Disappears,” a publication of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and the Institute for American Values, tells the story. In the 1970s, 73 percent of adults with a high-school degree or some college were in intact first marriages. In the 2000s, 45 percent were. In the 1970s, 50 percent of blacks at that level of education were in intact first marriages. In the 2000s, 33 percent were.

As recently as 1982, just 13 percent of births to people with this level of education were out-of-wedlock. In the late 2000s, 44 percent were. Among blacks with a high-school degree or some college, the figure was 75 percent.

Males with a high-school education have been dropping out of the labor force for decades. One flip side is a drastic increase in the rolls of Social Security Disability Insurance, despite better medical care and less-strenuous jobs. Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute points out that many of the additions are for vague conditions like mood disorders.

Forty years ago, Fraser Robinson left for work in pain every day — walking on two canes — and now a small army of his fellow Americans schemes to get paid for doing nothing.

Through his faithfulness, Fraser Robinson gave Michelle and her brother an incalculable gift. “The parental characteristics that employers value and are willing to pay for, such as skills, diligence, honesty, good health, and reliability, also improve children’s life chances, independent of their effect on parents’ income,” Susan Mayer writes in her book “What Money Can’t Buy.” “Children of parents with these attributes do well even when their parents do not have much income.”

The tectonic plates of the culture and economy shifted since the 1960s to squeeze the likes of Fraser Robinson, at the same time the government has been subsidizing a version of the family (single-mother households) that makes him superfluous. The new norm that dispenses with duty-bound fathers is not good for families, and it is not good for men.

Michelle Obama powerfully described her father’s pride. For him, to be a man was to be responsible, day after day. His quotidian courage was her windfall; that it is becoming increasingly rare is our tragedy.


Read more: Michelle Obama’s dad & America’s crisis—Rich Lowry – NYPOST.com.

Contact Rich Lowry and congratulate  him for recognizing the significance of First Lady Michelle Obama’s remarks about the character of her father — and what modern fatherhood should be.

About SquarePegDem

A former state legislator turned NY Post editorial board member, thought-leader, public affairs consultant and commentator, columnist and blogger. Michael has appeared on Al Jazeera America Tonight, NY1/Inside City Hall, FoxNews.com LIVE, YNN/Capital Tonight, The Brian Lehrer Show, The Fred Dicker Show, The Capitol Press Room, and The Daily Show. His op-eds have appeared in the NY Post, City and State, The Legislative Gazette, Bronx Times, The Troy Record, Buffalo News, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. To schedule speaking engagements, email FOMB08@GMAIL.COM.
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2 Responses to A must-read: Michelle Obama’s dad & America’s crisis—Rich Lowry – NYPOST.com

  1. Geoffrey L. Garfield says:

    I refuse to applaud yet another “well thought out” diatribe against black male parenting without the more sensible addition of the many complex factors that are the cause it. The USA power structure from the precinct to the nation’s capitol, government and its business allies at every level, join in a grand understanding to keep the urban poor in their place at the bottom. After “redlining” urban neighborhoods denying much needed banking, education, and other vital services over decades, black males (and females) have been losing the education and jobs battle that determines the quality of life they may lead into the future. I’d rather read this same analysis of white male marriage and job rates and the dwindling number of two-parent households in that America of which black statistics are a harbinger of what is to come in the “mainstream” (just look at the higher rates of white teenage out-of-wedlock pregnancies). While Mr. Robinson was indeed a remarkable man, his story instantly reminded me of my father and uncles who were just as moral, dedicated and wonderful family men as him. It may be a “greatest generation” quality that has been lost on succeeding generations but most certainly the entire village of America is to blame, not just the African-American community alone.


    • Rich Lowry has written about the always present but now increasing dysfunction in White America. Charles Murray’s latest pseudo-analysis of the decline of white families addresses this issue. Murray points out that there are two white Americas emerging and diverging. The elites marriage and college rates (as is their net wealth) are increasing while lower class whites have growing rates of out-of-wedlock birth, single-parent households, and falling rates of marriage formation and college graduation.

      Despite the racism in Chicago, Mr. Robinson still managed to take care of family. Bad schools have never kept determined people from making a life for themselves. Poor blacks and whites have a choice they can either wallow in their poverty, ignorance and low self-esteem or get out of the mud with the daily determination to improve themselves. That’s what Lowry was suggesting. And I endorse that view.


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