Octomom: A Symbol of Obama’s America

Symbolism played an important part in the elevation of Barack Obama to the presidency. He became a blank canvas to his supporters for their hopes and dreams while evoking men who transcended the office of the presidency to become symbols in the past – Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. It’s ironic that a month into his presidency we find a symbol that accurately portrays what Obama’s America is becoming under his administration: mother of 14, Nadya Suleman.

Like many on the left, Suleman takes an ala carte view of parenthood. In this Politically Correct view no man is necessary. Suleman even went to the extreme by avoiding a relationship with a man who would sire and help raise her children.

Since Dan Quayle was pilloried by the Left for his comments regarding Candice Bergen’s portrayal of Murphy Brown’s single motherhood, liberals have railed against marriage for anyone who isn’t gay. This is partly due to feminist Marxist literature which views marriage as institutionalized slavery of women. While the value of marriage versus cohabitation may be debated (I argue here that the government has no role to play in marriage), this view against marriage has evolved into broader misandry that assumes children can be raised as well by women alone as by men and women together. Unfortunately statistics do not bear this view out. A University of Chicago study found that “living with a single mother or living in a cohabiting arrangement is associated with poorer child development outcomes relative to living in married mother arrangements.”

Feminists have vehemently argued that as a woman, Suleyman has an absolute right to control her own body. However this “right” is almost always invoked regarding  the aborting of children, not birthing an entire baseball team in one shot. But with rights also come responsibilities: I may have a right to bear arms, but I will be held responsible if I shoot and kill my neighbor’s dog. Suleman has avoided these responsibilities while choosing her “right” to bear children. The outcome of her “rights” – her children -  are borne by her mother and society.

In a similar way in Obama’s America the CEOs who ruined companies like AIG, Merril Lynch, and Lehman Brothers walk away with golden parachutes. Banks that speculated during boom times in derivatives and exotic mortgage instruments, raking in huge windfalls are now deemed “too big to fail” and taxpayers are left to pay for the cleanup. Homeowners who bought homes they couldn’t afford are bailed out by those who lived within their means and purchased smaller homes or rented. This rewarding of selfish concerns – “what she wants” vs “what is best for everyone differs little in spirit from the “greed is good” credo that drove Wall Street to bribe legislators like Chris Dodd and Charlie Rangel to remove the guard rails preventing it from driving off a cliff.

Even the most hard-hearted conservative will not let any of her 14 children starve – in a similar way that most politicians argue that they must rescue GM, Chrysler and other firms deemed “too big to fail.”There is no way to punish Suleman without harming her children, just as there is no way to punish the CEOs of bailed out firms without hurting innocent workers, businesses and creditors.

This creates a moral hazard. If the gov’t is going to take away the pain, what’s to stop anyone from avoiding risky behavior? But the gov’t can’t afford to bail everyone out. This transfer of wealth from the prudent to the irresponsible will eventually ruin the prudent since the appetite of the irresponsible is without limit.

The problem is that government help always rewards one group at the expense of another. Suleman gets money from the state. This money doesn’t appear from a magician’s hat; it comes from the pockets of the childless or working parents.She gets a lip job with money taken from a working mother who could have used the extra cash to take the kids out to dinner, forcing her to cook after a long day at work. Suleman buys clothes for herself with tax money taken from a husband working two jobs to keep his own wife and kids in clothing. Suleman isn’t paying the medical bills for her latest brood – which are estimated to top $1 million - anyone hit by an $8 charge for a Tylenol at the hospital is the one paying.

Similarly the government bails out GM and Chrysler for making cars that 16 out of the 18 Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and assisting aides don’t drive themselves. They probably don’t drive them for the same reason I don’t: because they are overpriced and poorer quality than cars from companies headquartered abroad.

By assisting GM, Chrysler the government penalizes Ford, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, BMW- many of which own factories here and employ Americans. So the Americans working at the Honda plant in Lincoln Alabama will have to pay for the mistakes made by GM and Chrysler in Deerborne Michegan.

For the banks, the outcome is more dubious: nationalization. Both Bank of America and Citigroup are in danger of collapsing as investors pull their money out of them, fearful that Sen. Chris Dodd’s Friday remark on Bloomberg TV about their impending nationalization was coming to fruition.

But back to Suleman, her mother – who appears to be playing the role of responsible codependent for the excesses of her daughter – seems overwhelmed by the doubling of her burden. Suleman herself seems oblivious to her predicament and incapable of making the changes necessary in her lifestyle to make a decent home for her 14 children.

If we are asking ourselves whether Citibank and Bank of America can survive the financial crisis and thrive on their own, shouldn’t we ask the same of Suleman? If we do we come to a similar conclusion:

We must nationalize Suleman’s children.

Are her 14 children better off with her than with a dozen or more pairs of foster and adopted parents? DSS/Children’s Services makes these types of decisions everyday. While their track records aren’t perfect, they are the only instrument Society has at its disposal.

We cannot force Suleman to have a hysterectomy, but we can investigate the doctors who performed these procedures. Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, told NPR “I don’t know any case where some of the children were not severely disabled,” and said the procedures raised a slew of ethical questions.

Does this mean that the government needs to regulate in vitro fertilization? If the idiots who performed these procedures on Suleman ignore medical ethics, and the AMA does not strip away their licenses, then perhaps it must.

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  4. MikeDevx:

    We should provide progressively gradually less welfare/ADC money for each child past the second. Parents are supposed to provide for their children. Responsible parents do so.

  5. kaiser.com:

    These high-multiple births, caused by assisted reproduction technology or otherwise, always result in severe (and expensive, natch) health problems and handicaps for a high proportion of the infants (those that survive). To GUARANTEE that outcome for the sake of producing MORE kids for a woman who ALREADY had six is the height of unethical professional behavior on the part of the doctors involved. It’s a kind of malpractice.

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  8. Scott Kirwin:

    I completely agree – and I’m pretty anti-malpractice myself. There is simply no excuse for what the doctor did at the clinic. None.

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  10. pa:

    I agree with the post, but I would like to focus on a single erroneous detail that does not take away from the point you want to make. Dan Quayle made an error in his Murphy Brown analogy. I was surprised that no one corrected him at the time, on either side of the discussion. The metaphor continues to have a vigorous life to this day, but still with the persistent error, of course. The nature of the error has nothing to do with The Razor’s post, but I would like to see the story corrected somewhere, and this post is just as good a place as any!

    Quayle criticized Murphy Brown for deciding that fathers were unnecessary to the raising of a child. He criticized her for choosing single motherhood over a traditional mom-and-dad family for her child. HOWEVER, the actual storyline on the show was quite different from Quayle’s interpretation. Murphy considered long and hard whether to keep the baby at all and, commendably, decided against having an abortion. An entire episode was devoted to this wrenching decision; this was no throw-away plot point for the Murphy character or for the scriptwriters. Murphy then spoke with the baby’s father, having made a thoughtful decision to marry him and give their baby a traditional family. The father, however, shocked her by immediately rejecting this option. He walked out without a backward glance. I believe they were engaged at the time, so it wasn’t marriage to Murphy that he rejected—it was the baby and only the baby that spooked him. Quayle put the onus for single motherhood solely on Murphy, when the real failure belonged to the man who refused to have anything to do with his own child. At the time Quayle spoke, I believe that the deliberate choice of single motherhood was still a fairly new phenomenon (thus making it an edgy topic for a sitcom—and rich fodder for a politician looking for a memorable sound bite), but the problem of dads who skip out on their responsibility was, and remains, an all-too-common one. Quayle’s error was in pinning the blame for single motherhood on the wrong party. Murphy was 100% committed to a family choice that she had never seriously considered before. The father is the stinker, and Quayle should have focused on the role of fathers in assuring stable families.

    If Murphy Brown is to continue to be used as an example of something detrimental to society, can’t we please assure that the correct lesson is being made?

  11. Scott Kirwin:

    Thanks for the correction. I hadn’t realized that.

  12. pa:

    Scott: Thanks for letting me use your space to make this correction. I have not seen anyone anywhere explain the true storyline used on Murphy Brown. I believe your blog is now the first publication anywhere to air this issue!

  13. pa:

    Just one more thought, if you don’t mind indulging me. Murphy Brown is a poor example of single motherhood as her circumstances were quite different from those of the typical “unwed mother.” Murphy was a highly paid televsion news anchor, not an ill-educated young person with little or no income who would require financial support from the government. Murphy’s baby would have had all the best that money can buy, at no expense to taxpayers and with no sacrifice in living standards for Murphy. She also had strong male support to provide a fatherly role in her baby’s life. First, her very good friend offered to step in and make up for the missing father (not by marriage, just as a reliable presence). And, of course, the unforgettable Eldon the housepainter became the baby’s nanny. So this child had more than adequate financial support and strong male bonding, two key needs that many children of single mothers don’t have. Last, Murphy didn’t have a house full of illegitimate children, with different fathers for most of them. Quayle chose a poor example, indeed, when he set up Murphy Brown as the emblem of all that’s wrong with single motherhood.

  14. Scott Kirwin:

    Single motherhood isn’t the worst outcome. For example I would rather see children raised by a single mother than by a woman and her alcoholic or physically abusive husband/spouse.

    As for Murphy Brown, I never watched it and was out of the country when the debate happened.

    Thanks for clarifying that for me.

  15. bruce:

    this is a golden country ,all our poor can be fed , america face should be RED, THEY RUN AROUN AROUND AND THEY FLIRT WITH DISASTER NEVER REALL CAREING JUST WHAT COMES AFTER

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