By Neil Munro
President Barack Obama has set aside time Tuesday to personally endorse a new feminist agenda backed by noted Democratic policy experts Beyoncé, Jada Pinkett Smith, LeBron James and Eva Longoria.
They’re listed as contributors to the 391-page apocalyptic-sounding report entitled “A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink,” drafted by lead author Maria Shriver, a member of the Kennedy clan and ex-wife of former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Shriver’s progressive analysis and government-centered recommendations aren’t nearly as important as the document’s ability for Democrats to boost women’s turnout in the 2014 election.
Obama and his political allies will use the report “as a club… to beat conservatives, make us look heartless and make us look as if we’re part of a ‘War on Women,’” said Carrie Lukas, the managing director at the centrist Independent Women’s Forum and co-author of “Liberty is No War on Women,” in an interview with The Daily Caller
“The ‘War on Women’ is just about the only tool in the Democratic arsenal for 2014,” IWF director of cultural programs Charlotte Hays told TheDC, because the crash of Obamacare and Obama’s lousy economy has done so much damage to women, men and families.
“Women should be mad at getting such a lousy pitch, they should be thinking ‘Unemployment is very high and they think I want to read about Beyoncé?’” said Hays, who noted that women are doing better than men and boys in college and the economy.
The report also includes a chapter from Sen. Hillary Clinton, aiding her likely use of the “War on Women” catapult during the 2016 campaign.
Obama is scheduled to accept the report at a late-afternoon White House event that likely will be used for campaign footage.
“The report focuses on the millions of women who are working hard, but are consistently on the brink of poverty; and highlights the need for the nation to address women’s dual roles as caregivers and breadwinners and the specific challenges they face,” said the White House schedule, released Monday.
In 2012, Obama racked up big majorities among single women, but lost among married women. Unless the GOP leadership tries to split the party by pushing through a bill to increase immigration and guest workers, Obama will need to repeat that success in November if he wants to keep the Senate from turning GOP.
Shriver has produced versions of the report since 2009, in cooperation with the Center for American Progress, which pushes for laws and regulations that place American politics and civic life under the guidance of university-trained progressives in local, state and federal government.
The report calls for government to become a caregiver for women, by providing employer-paid leave for women, paid sick days for minimum-wage workers, uniform pay for men and women in similar jobs, and free child-care so that fatherless mothers can work minimum-wage jobs at $7.25 per hour instead of taking care of their children.
The report offers only a marginal role for men and boys, no support for marriage, and little or no role for the independent family that can birth and raise new Americans with minimal government participation.
The report begins by dismissing men; “In August 2012, my marriage ended suddenly after 25 years. It was a shock, but also a relief, because my husband had been angry for years. After he left, it was amazing how there was peace in our house again,” says the opening anecdote, which is followed by repeated demands that society be organized around the needs of women.
“This nation cannot have sustained economic prosperity and well-being until women’s new, central role is recognized and women’s economic health is used as a measure—perhaps it should be the measure—to shape common-sense policies and priorities for the 21st century,” says a chapter written by Shriver.
Later the report cites a survey of mothers and kids, but not fathers. it even recommends to female readers that they tip waitresses. It says nothing about tipping waiters.
“We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality. It isn’t a reality yet,” says the opening sentence of the chapter attributed to Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.
Boys must be taught their place, Beyoncé insists. “We have to teach our boys the rules of equality and respect… and we have to teach our girls that they can reach as high as humanly possible,” says the very wealthy and successful female singer, who seems unaware that more women graduate from college than men.
“Women are more than 50 percent of the population and more than 50 percent of voters. We must demand that we all receive 100 percent of the opportunities,” says Beyoncé, who can sing better than 99.9999 percent of the population.
But the women-can-do-it-all pitch doesn’t cover up reality.
Eva Longoria’s story focuses on boosting Latin women, who make up a growing slice of the Democratic base. But she doesn’t exclude men or boys; “My foundation supports a nine-week parent-engagement program, which teaches parents the basics of what their kids need to make it to college,” she writes, as she acknowledges that the quality of parenting has an enormous impact on children’s opportunities.
LeBron James’s short chapter in the feminist tract is even more subversive — he includes a shout-out to his stand-in dad, who raised him when his single mother realized she couldn’t do the job. “So she sent me to live with my pee-wee football team coach, ‘Big Frankie’ Walker, and his family… I stayed with the Walkers for a year, and what a gift that was! I was in the same school all year, slept in the same bed all year, played on the same football team all year, and Big Frankie put me on my first basketball team.”
The book’s feminist tone is also contradicted by a few chapters from expert authors.
Ron Haskins, a D.C.-based expert, writes that “there is now near-universal agreement that the best rearing environment for children is a married-couple family.”
Haskins doesn’t dare say “married mother and father.” But he does rub the point home; “Children in female-headed families are four to five times as likely to be poor as children in married-couple families.”
Researcher Kathryn Edin notes practical problems facing young men — lousy education in broken families, terrible job prospects, and women’s ability to find alternative support, including from Uncle Sam.
“It’s fascinating to see the ways the [feminist] contributors dance around the fact that single motherhood is a pathway to poverty,” said Janice Shaw Crouse, executive director at Concerned Women for America. “The feminists still promote the myth that a woman doesn’t need a man, but it’s fine to substitute taxpayer entitlements for a husband and father.”
The report’s government-centered recommendations “are so outdated… we’ve been trying those top-down programs for almost 100 years and they’ve failed women and their families… [yet progressives] are asking for another vote of confidence,” in November, said Sabrina Schaeffer, the executive director of the IWF, and author of “Liberty is No War on Women.”
“It is sad and unproductive,” she told TheDC.
The report is transparently wrong about many claims, such as women’s wages and the “phony issue” of ‘War on Women,’ Hays said
The progressives even argue that the economy is a mess, and they should be voted back into power to continue their policies, says Hays. “I shrank the economy honey, put me back in charge,” Hays mocked.
During elections, the progressives’ media allies “try to convince women that conservatives are mean and bad but surely this report is so thin, so badly argued, and so transparently political — Beyoncé and Longoria? — that the game looks like it might be up” this year, Hays said.
The Shriver document “is a slickly produced rehash of leftist shibboleths from an eclectic mix of celebrities, politicians, gurus and other friends of Maria who advocate government dependency for women and children,” said Crouse. It is “the same old feminist themes and ‘women’s rights’ grievances.”
The book include numerous sections that highlight the contradictory demand by university-trained feminists for autonomy, power, status and money, even as it acknowledges and sidelines most women’s preference for husbands, daughters and sons.
“We are the solution. The real power is in us. We are the heart of the families that are the heart of America,” Shriver the feminist declares, shortly after the report states up front that “two out of three families depend on the wages of working moms who are struggling to balance caregiving and breadwinning.”
“Be an architect of change. We can push back from the brink,” says the document’s concluding directive.
“Shriver must be desperate to come out with arguments so awful,” Hays concluded.