Kathryn Lopez

Obama has it in him to do as much. I know this because I have read it. In his own best seller, "The Audacity of Hope," he wrote that in black America, "the nuclear family is on the verge of collapse." He felt it worth pointing out that "54 percent of all African-American children live in single-parent households, compared to about 23 percent of all white children." Writing about his own struggles as a dad with a busy schedule, he remembers how he grew up without a father, and with "partial, incomplete" relationships with a grandfather and stepfather: "As I got older I came to recognize how hard it had been for my mother and grandmother to raise us without a strong male presence in the house. I felt as well the mark that a father's absence can leave on a child. I determined that my father's irresponsibility toward his children, my stepfather's remoteness and my grandfather's failures would all become object lessons for me, and that my own children would have a father they could count on."

My problem with Obama's speech is that he didn't go far enough. He could make history in some pretty dramatic, culture-shaking and culture-rebuilding ways. He grew up without a father and had some tough struggles, but he overcame and achieved. He could truly inspire.

Obama and I will never agree, even on the marriage and family issues. He's radically pro-choice, and he wouldn't protect traditional marriage in the face of faux marriage in the courts and legislatures. But he could be an important voice for men and for families; he could find some common ground with social conservatives who fight for the same. And that would be something audaciously hopeful.

Kathryn Lopez

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