This president has squandered a great opportunity. As the country's first African-American president, Barack Obama had the chance to lead poor African-Americans out of poverty by encouraging them to embrace the principles that would allow them to become self-reliant instead of stoking envy of the successful. He had that responsibility. He has failed to live up to it. That is a tragedy, not only for him, but for those he left behind.
Envy has never created a single job, put a family back together, encouraged a man to provide for his children or endowed young women with the kind of self-regard that would encourage them not to create children they too often neglect. The state of many poor African-Americans remains how it has been for years -- too many fatherless children, too many uneducated, hopeless women and too many men in prison. President Obama might have done something about that beyond more government programs and handouts. Tuesday night, he spoke of no more government handouts. Which ones will he cut?
Optimism, self-regard and the economic, social and spiritual principles that built and sustained America, offering opportunity, not guaranteed outcome, are what the president should be stressing. Government is not our keeper. We are our own and our neighbor's keepers. Addicting more and more people to government and the view that others owe them a living is the worst form of covetousness. In case the president missed it in Jeremiah Wright's church, there's a commandment against coveting your neighbor's property.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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