Barack Obama assumed the presidency determined not just to promote certain policies but to tidy up our minds as well. Some things we'd been saving, like conservative ideas on national defense and such, would have to go. Those were "the failed policies of the past," and he would not tolerate people clinging to them. Obama enthusiast and New York Times editor Sam Tanenhaus thought he was writing an epitaph when he published "The Death of Conservatism" six months ago.
But we have not cooperated. More to the point, the facts have not cooperated. That $787 billion stimulus that was guaranteed to keep unemployment at 8 percent or less is now regarded by 75 percent of Americans as a corrupt flop. Seventy-one percent say underwear bomber Abdulmutallab should have been handed over to the military. And 58 percent say he should have been waterboarded.
Now we learn, from a study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine end ital that another prematurely buried conservative idea, abstinence education, works very well indeed.
The Obama administration had disdained and defunded abstinence education in favor of "evidence-based" programs to prevent teen pregnancy. (Note the assumption that liberal ideas are founded on evidence whereas conservative ideas spring from prejudice, ignorance or downright orneriness.) No one study settles things, but this one, conducted by an African-American professor from the University of Pennsylvania, will be hard to ignore.
Between 2001 and 2004, John B. Jemmott III and his colleagues studied 662 African-American sixth- and seventh-graders (average age 12). The kids were randomly assigned to one of four programs. The first emphasized abstinence and included role-playing methods to avoid sex. The second combined an abstinence message with information about condoms. The third focused solely on condom use, and the fourth (the control group) was taught general health information.