Star Parker

Coverage by the mainstream media of the Larry Craig scandal confirms again that liberals love the sin and hate the sinner. They've got both the Idaho senator and the conservative values that he has supported in their crosshairs.

Perhaps it's relevant to take a moment and recall that the need for biblical guidance comes from the proclivity to sin. You don't need a map if you're hardwired to know where you're going.

But, for those on the left, a map isn't necessary because it doesn't matter where we are going. For them, a man going astray is proof that having a destination, and rules for getting there, is hypocrisy. The problem is not the fallen man but having rules to begin with.

Typical is Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, who writes with ironic sanctimony about GOP claims to moral superiority. Alter can hardly contain his glee at the prospect that the Craig scandal will undermine the family-values agenda of conservative Republicans. He goes on, with great haste, to write its obituary.

"In the long term, though, the end of the family-values agenda may be a blessing in disguise for the GOP. It has tied its fortunes too closely to evangelical Christians ..."

But what does Craig's personal behavior have to do with the validity and relevance of traditional values?

Might we recall a basic rule of logic that points to the fallacy of the ad hominem argument? The issue is the substance and truth of the argument and not the person making it.

Let's consider the relevance of traditional values as a practical matter and see where the most damaging hypocrisy lies.

Democratic politicians, who now are quietly luxuriating in the Craig scandal and Republican Party woes, will tell us that what they're about is fairness, income gaps, two Americas and the poor.

Now suppose that the family values that they are so anxious to usher out the door are key to addressing these very issues that Democrats claim to be their concern.

In fact, they are.

The Census Bureau has just released its latest data on poverty in America. The intimate connection between family structure and poverty is undeniable.

Five percent of homes headed by married couples are poor. Over 35 percent of homes, seven times as many, headed by single mothers are poor.

Data, as reported by Douglas Besharov of the American Enterprise Institute, show that, in 2005, the average income for all American families with children under age 18 was $56,793. For those households headed by a married couple, the average income was $71,010. For those households headed by single women, the average income was $26,705.

The most healthy and prosperous American families are those in which traditional values are intact.

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?

Star Parker

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do About It.