used to be that Republicans scolded Democrats
by saying, "All you do is throw money at a problem
-- that won't fix it."
week, however, the President George W. Bush and
his administration were ready to throw lots of
money -- $1.5 billion -- at a problem all the
therapists in the world can't fix: marriage.
they just ask Britney Spears to stay home?
you recall, recently visited a Las Vegas wedding
chapel in a pique of 1) boredom, 2) intoxication,
3) a need to stay in the headlines or 4) stupidity,
and married a childhood friend for about a minute
and a half. The marriage was quickly annulled,
and Spears laughed it off as if she'd just tried
on a goofy hat.
kids got a quickie course in quickie marriage:
no harm, no foul, lots of publicity. Hey. Cool.
is but a shred of what the Bush administration
is up against when politics meets pop culture:
$1.5 billion to "promote marriage?"
exactly does a government that can't get people
to conserve gas, save water, stop using drugs
or put away the pornography get its citizens to
put rings on their fingers?
can't. It doesn't. And it won't.
I am all for marriage. I believe it is a cornerstone
of society. I believe children are better raised,
schools are better committed, and communities
are better served when marriages are stable.
the government doesn't know the first thing about
mind that if you took all the divorces and extra-marital
affairs out of Washington, you couldn't get a
majority vote on anything. And never mind that
government programs traditionally get bogged down
in red tape, paperwork and inefficiencies.
mind these four words: "Say No To Drugs."
That one worked wonders.
even the most well-meaning program can't fight
the cultural messages being sent every day.
example: Last week, USA Today ran a fawning article
about the newest celebrity couples, called "Hollywood's
Hooking Up." It featured a half-dozen beautiful
pairings -- none of them married.
Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie, it wrote: "The
randy Dubliner has a son, 4-month-old James, with
model Kim Bordenave. Jolie and then-hubby Billy
Bob Thornton adopted Maddox, 2, in 2001, then
critical. Nothing harsh. These two beautiful people
were not taken to task for turning their backs
on infants in favor of turning their lips to one
another. On the contrary: They were celebrated
as a new, hot couple.
is that way across America. Athletes, super-models,
TV stars can talk about how excited they are to
be having a baby with one person while clubbing
with a new squeeze.
you know how it works: If the cool people can
do it, why can't we?
fighting that with a pamphlet.
your history. Why is it that when marriage was
its strongest, the government didn't have silly
programs to teach it? I'll tell you why. Because
parents did it. Grandparents did it. Husbands
and wives did it by staying together. They set
-- here's a forgotten word -- an example.
and unless that happens in families, no amount
of government suggestion will lead to it.
why is the Bush administration -- Republicans
who traditionally stood for fiscal prudence --
willing to throw $1.5 billion into the air?
get re-elected. Bush's tea-leaf reader, Karl Rove,
feels he must have the arch conservative base
this November in order to ensure his man a victory.
Those folks love "traditional values." So our
tax money gets wrapped in a fuzzy ball and thrown
at the altar of zealous lobbying groups that,
ironically, don't care as much about pushing marriage
as they do making sure it stays heterosexual.
work. Can't work. But hey, how can you fault a
president in favor of weddings? Next we can spend
$1.5 billion to promote apple pie.
Bush administration should harken to a couple
of rules that truly do make a good marriage: First,
always tell the truth. And second, don't throw
your money away.
MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted: January 20, 2004