June 20, 2010

IRA STOLL: Fatherhood.Gov.

President Obama interrupted my Father’s Day with an e-mail announcing the launch of “The President’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative” and an associated Web site, Fatherhood.gov, which honestly I could have mistaken for an elaborate prank undertaken by some libertarian group trying to make the point that the next thing you know, Big Government and President Obama are going to try to insert themselves into the father-son or father-daughter relationship. Except that, sure enough, at the bottom of the Web site is language announcing, “This is an official U.S. Government Web site managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.”

So I ignored my children for a few minutes of Father’s Day and did what the president asked which was to check out the Web site, and especially the government’s “Tips for Parents.” They were infuriating. . . . The current federal government can barely do the tasks that it is assigned in the Constitution, such as keeping us safe from foreign invaders and regulating the value of money. I’d be happy if the government could just win Iraq and Afghanistan, secure the border, live roughly within its means, and make sure the beaches of Florida aren’t covered with petroleum products. If the government is going to beyond that and assign itself, unbidden, the all-new task of improving the nation’s fathers, it’s going to have to do better than telling people to filter their water, mute the television commercials, use more expensive lightbulbs, and check the Halloween candy for tampering, if President Obama wants to avoid spawning more of the very cynicism he went to Washington vowing to defeat.

Do tell.

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