Untimely thoughts

Several readers commented in response to my note on “The 72% fallacy” that Governor Romney could not challenge the premise of the woman who asked him what he would do “to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn.” The proposition that the statistical disparity in pay between men and women results from employment discrimination, I observed, has been examined and disproved many times over. But, as several commenters reasonably noted, a serious candidate for president can’t say that; it would effectively kill his candidacy.

Which got me thinking: what other home truths have moved beyond the pale of our public discourse? Below I serve up a few for your consideration. I’m not throwing my hat in the ring, so I’ll offer this one of my own untimely thoughts:

I believe to the core of my being in the equality of all men and in the principle of equal treatment without regard to race. I therefore oppose the whole regime of affirmative action that licenses rank racial discrimination as it has grown up in our public institutions since we thought we adopted the principle of equal treatment as the law of the land. Acts of racial discrimination are wrong when committed by any man or woman; when committed by the government or our great public institutions, they are an outrage.

As I say, I’m not running for office, so I’ll dare to submit one more for your consideration. Only a candidate in the grips of a political death wish could say something this outrageous:

I believe that every child needs and deserves both a mother and a father. I understand that life’s circumstances don’t always allow for it, and that many children overcome difficult circumstances, but everyone understands in some sense that kids do best with a loving mom and dad. We should do everything in our power consistent with the principles of good government to encourage such families.

Let’s call on Abraham Lincoln for this thought. It requires a little updating, but if adapted to our present circumstances and said out loud it could kill the career of any ambitious politician:

Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation we began by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes.” Soon it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.” When it comes to this, I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty–to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy [sic].

Our founding principles belie the public pieties that govern our public life. What politician concerned about preserving his viability on the national stage would dare say anything this frankly retrograde today?

It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to [the Declaration of Independence]. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions.

Only a president in his third term would dare say anything this frankly judgmental and expressive of our own spiritual tradition:

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts….And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade….With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy.

Here is one more that readers with a long memory may actually recall having heard:

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem….It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.

We shall see.

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