Kathryn Lopez

To watch some media liberals react to fundamental issues involving family life is to be glad that conservatives exist. I think everyone but dyed-in-the-wool liberal ideologues would agree with this -- and nothing better illustrates it than a recent day in my life of TV-news watching.

For my first example, I rewind to a segment of the "Today" show. Co-host Meredith Vieira was interviewing two 20-somethings and one 30-year-old who took pledges to remain abstinent until married. They made these promises because they want to respect themselves and they want others to respect them.

Appearing after a canned reporting piece featuring "virginity vans," these three young people expressed themselves in a logical, sensible way, eloquently talking not about wearing their virginity on their sleeves, but about expecting the best from themselves and others. However, Vieira approached them as if they were aliens -- completely unheard of.

Now, be honest: If your child told you, "I'm not having sex until I'm married," wouldn't you be relieved? Our morning TV guide apparently wouldn't be. Vieira, a mother, seemed anything but welcoming to the idea. She appeared to channel a Planned Parenthood screed. Oppose those backward conservatives who hate sex!

I saw the same kind of illogical left-wing reflex later that day, when the GOP candidates for president participated in a CNN/YouTube debate. One of the questioners appeared with his father and asked about black-on-black crime. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney responded by praising the father for supporting his son and focusing on the need to turn around urban societal breakdown.

Romney continued: "It's time ... that we go back to the kind of values that allow kids to have moms and dads. In the African-American community today, 68 percent of kids born are born out of wedlock. And so we're going to try and once again reinculcate in this country the ... values that have made us so strong: family values."

The host, Anderson Cooper, quickly interrupted: "The question is, what are you going to do about the war in the inner city?" he asked Romney.

Romney is going to emphasize the importance of marriage and fatherhood, Anderson!

Romney stuck to his sensible guns. "Well, one, about the war in the inner city -- number one is to get more moms and dads. That's number one. And thank heavens Bill Cosby said it like it was. That's where the root of crime starts." He then went on to talk about education reform and policing policies.

Analyzing the debate, one liberal commentator on the same network went on a similar rant -- in short, that Republicans do not care about the downtrodden if they are not backing big-government solutions. But Romney knows that personal responsibility changes things. He knows that welfare reform kickstarted a change in urban culture, getting moms working, and getting teen-pregnancy rates down. He knows that, as Kay Hymowitz put it, "the grim fact is that bringing a reliable dad into the home of the 80 percent or so of inner-city children growing up with a single mother is a task of such psychological and sociological complexity as to rival democracy-building in Iraq." That is why Romney has said, "Some of the most important work being done in our country today is the work going on within the four walls of the American home," and praised Cosby during that same debate. After Cosby appeared on "Meet the Press" this fall, talking about the importance of paternal responsibility, Romney said: "America's inner strength, the strength of our families and communities, is just as important as our economic strength and military strength. Strong families form our heart and our culture, and that's what makes America special."

Cosby, who is no conservative Republican activist, reminds us that there are exceptions to mass generalizations about politics. Many sensible Americans lean left, and many nonsensible people are right-wing. However, as Vieira and Cooper reminded me that day in late November, there is something about the left-leaning establishment that absolutely cringes at the idea of good sense, echoing knee-jerk liberal arguments -- and that's not good for anyone, most especially their desire to keep sensible Americans watching.


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.