In an article in the latest issue of Commentary Magazine, Lawrence Mead, a professor of politics at New York University and author of seven books on poverty and welfare reform, surveys thinking over the last 50 years about the causes of poverty and concludes:
"Although impediments to working may still affect some people, poverty is overwhelmingly a result of dysfunctional patterns of life. Families are poor in America in 2007 typically because unmarried parents have children and then do not work regularly to support them. ... It has become difficult to avoid the conclusion that serious poverty in America is rooted in the culture of the poor."
It's not news that poverty is disproportionately high among blacks. At 25 percent, the incidence of black poverty is double the national average.
Corresponding with this are disproportionately high black out-of-wedlock births and homes headed by single women.
When Daniel Moynihan wrote his famous report in 1965 identifying the warning signs of the breakdown of the black family, black out-of-wedlock births were a third of what they are today.
Do family values matter? You bet they do.
They may be a matter of principle for conservative Republicans. But they are a matter of life and death to America's poor and particularly to America's poor blacks.
Whatever Larry Craig was doing in a men's room in the Minneapolis airport has little to do with the relevance of these truths and their importance in our country today.
Democrats and the left may enjoy exploiting Craig's misfortunes and using this incident to try and undermine the traditional-values agenda that he supported for 20 years in the U.S. Senate.
But by so doing, they hurt this country and the very communities that they claim to want to help. So, then, where does the most damaging hypocrisy really lie?