Obama: “As the Father of 2 Daughters” I Want the Government to Ignore Science

Barack Obama, who was educated in the country’s most esteemed universities, has implied that having daughters has convinced him the government should ignore science.

His anti-science justification came in response to questions about HHS’ decision to override the FDA’s recommendation that Plan B be made available over-the-counter. He justified his support for the decision on the fact that he has daughters.

President Obama said today that “as the father of two daughters,” he supports his health secretary’s decision to block over-the-counter sales of the Plan B “morning after” birth control pill to girls under 17 years of age.

He also appealed to that classic anti-science “wisdom”–common sense–as rationale to ignore science.

“I think it is important for us to make sure that we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine,” Obama said during an impromptu news conference at the White House.

I find it troubling not just that Obama wouldn’t see the wisdom of making it possible for young girls to avoid unplanned pregnancies that might otherwise present a much bigger health risk to them. But I find the appeal to fatherhood as justification for ignoring science even more troubling.

Because, of course, Obama has ignored the scientists before, most notably when he decided to let his and everyone else’s daughters breathe dangerous levels of ozone for several more years so as to appease big business. It’s science that shows Obama ought to reject the Keystone pipeline for the good of his daughters. It’s science that shows if we don’t take climate change more seriously immediately, Obama’s daughters’ and the rest of their generation will face a calamitous future.

Obama’s daughters are not my business, and in any case they seem well-able to see past the bullshit of their father’s job.

But when a highly educated person decides all of us should put aside science out of the pretense that his daughters will be safer because of it–that’s highly dangerous. It’s precisely because he has children that Obama ought to make sure all government decisions are governed first and foremost by the science.

Update: Emily Douglas makes almost the same point here.

Update: See also this excellent post from Kaili Joy Gray.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

29 replies
  1. Arbusto says:

    Being the perpetual election season, of course Obama comes out against the Morning After Pill. What’s conscience, science or intellect got to do with the hope of winning 2 or 3 conservative voters.

  2. BoxTurtle says:

    Obama is a republican. republican’s don’t like science.

    Even given that, this suprised me. Obama is all about re-election and nobody who approves of this move is likely to vote for him anyway. And he’s pissed off a bunch of the “moderates” whose votes I thought he really wanted.

    Boxturtle (I think he forgot to whom he was trying to pander)

  3. emptywheel says:

    @bmaz: Are you a crotchety guy who’s unwilling to pander because you only have one daughter? Cause that seems to be what’s really going on with Obama.

  4. Tim says:

    Politics and prejudice prevails. There is no more justification to keeping the morning after pill from being available over the counter than there is to allow condoms, spermicides, lubicants and vibrators from also being available over the counter. As a father, the president says he is uncomfortable with the thought that such a pill might be available to his daughters. No, what he is really unconfortable with is the thought that one of his daughters might NEED that pill.

    Peace,

    Tim

  5. Petrocelli says:

    I can understand why Obama trusts religion over facts … it’s the only way he’ll get a second term.

  6. dSquib says:

    As a rule, whenever some draconian measure or policy is being discussed and someone offers an argument in support beginning “As a mother/father”, expect a really bad argument to follow.

    With the apparent intuitive wisdom that is often claimed with the advent of parenthood, it’s a wonder every parent on Earth does not agree with each other on everything, always.

  7. emptywheel says:

    @Petrocelli: Oh, I dunno, the religion of the GOP firebreathers is making sure that only nuts can be nominated. So it’s not just Obama’s religion that’s helping him out here.

  8. MaryCh says:

    @bmaz: Nice Trailblazers dogwhistle you got there.

    Also too, our dear POTUS can rely on FLOTUS, FM-I-LOTUS and the Secret Service so…no worries!

  9. Mary says:

    “‘I think it is important for us to make sure that we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine,’ Obama said during an impromptu news conference at the White House.”
    WHat the hell does that mean? You have a scientifically proven safe OTC medicine. What is the “common sense” that you apply to that? Given the number of incest victims in the US, I’m not sure I follow the “common sense” that he’s bringing to bear. Was there any follow up on that FS (BS given imprimatur with finger steepling)?

  10. Mary says:

    @2 – he doesn’t even win them, and he knows that. What he does is give them another reason to distrust science, since “not even the godless commie sob in the WH believes in letting his daughter take that crap without him knowing about it”

    Just like he supported them all in their determinations that freezing a man to death and arranging for others to be buried alive or have their genitals razored are really just the “good faith” actions of “dedicated interrogators”

  11. phred says:

    Billion Dollar Obama is a fraud from start to finish. He has never been pro-choice and has demonstrated that fact over and over again from the Stupak/Nelson debacle to rolling over on denying funding for abortions in DC to this asinine decision on Plan B.

    Of course, he isn’t an environmentalist either (take that, EPA! and hello Keystone baby pull up a chair right next to our deep water chums here) nor is he a pro-constitution kind of guy (lets just leave out the whole “scholar” bit shall we) nor does he much care for trade deals that are good for American workers…

    Nothing that miserable lying sociopath said on the campaign trail was true. Too bad Dems don’t care enough about their damn platform to primary the worthless s.o.b.

    Not that I’m bitter… ; )

  12. Jim White says:

    @bmaz: Well, I do have two daughters, and I still choose to stick with science.

    He says from the Atlanta airport, on the way to Cancun with his wife, while praying those two daughters behave while home alone…

  13. Jeff Kaye says:

    How many children will be born to overwhelmed young women, and then brought up either unloved, or with depressed or traumatized young women, and what will their lives look like? Oh, never mind. It’s only politics, after all.

  14. Jim White says:

    OT: The border crossings in Pakistan have not yet been re-opened, and today men on motorcycles were able to fire rockets at a group of parked tankers, with lots of fuel going up in flames:

    At least 42 Nato oil tankers and containers were torched after armed men fired two rockets at them in the Kharotabad area of Quetta on Thursday.
    As many as 32 oil tankers and 10 containers, carrying fuel and military hardware for Nato forces in Afghanistan, were parked in a terminal on Airport Road when a group of armed men fired two rockets, followed by intense firing.
    Initially a few oil tankers caught fire that eventually engulfed nearby oil tankers and containers too.
    “At least 32 oil tankers and 10 containers carrying necessary supply for NATO forces were destroyed in the attack,” Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Mehbob Ehsan told The Express Tribune.

    This is not a good sign. As I suggested in a previous post, one thing to look for while the crossings are closed is whether Pakistan maintains security for the blocked tankers. While it’s not that uncommon for isolated tankers to be attacked, it’s hard to understand how such a large collection of them could be attacked in this way. As we see later in the article:

    According to reports, the armed men managed to flee from the scene after carrying out the attack.

    For that many tankers in one spot, security should have been incredibly tight. The fact that these tankers were attacked with the perpetrators getting away is pretty strong presumptive evidence that Pakistan has backed down on the level of security it provides. Look for more attacks like this until the crossings open.

  15. Carl Weetabix says:

    One man’s common sense is another’s complete and utter stupidity.

    Anyway, as I wasn’t sleeping when I should be, I actually thought, “I bet you this has to do with Obama’s daughters.”

    Then again it could be just political cover.

  16. Carl Weetabix says:

    BTW – I am a little dubious of saying “science” should be the only consideration for decisions. Science might say (obviously not, but just for argument), that it would be ok to fill in something like the Florida Everglades, but it wouldn’t be taking into account a huge number of other factors.

    While I disagree with Obama, it isn’t strictly a question of whether “plan B” is safe, effective, or even understood by the people who use it. There are other social factors that are related that not only haven’t been looked at, aren’t really plausible to look at in any truly objective or comprehensive way. For instance, how it effects families, promiscuity, etc. – those aren’t I am sure “scientific” questions that have been addressed and even if they have, they are generally too complicated to get consistent answers on (that is, I wouldn’t trust anyone who said they could “scientifically” prove it say, wouldn’t increase, or even maybe decrease, promiscuity).

    Again, my “intuition” or “common sense” sense says that it’s better to allow “plan B” than not, however I am a giant bundle of biases like anyone else.

    I think it is fair to be pissed, and I am, that he didn’t stick to his campaign promises and felt completely at liberty to stomp on women’s rights (while yet again sticking it to his base), but I’m not sure that science is the only metric in these conversations (on either side).

  17. GulfCoastPirate says:

    I have two daughters. I trust them more than Obama. Why won’t he simply let them make their own choice?

  18. P J Evans says:

    @BoxTurtle:
    I think he forgot which party he was running from about a day after then election in 2008. And he hasn’t really remembered it since then, even when loudly reminded.

    He seems to be trying really hard to lose the Democratic base, while trying to appeal to the GOP base. Really RONG.

  19. Andre says:

    I would like to ask Mr. Obama if, as a father, he really would prefer his very young daughter to have a child or get an abortion to her using a medicin that might cause problems if used incorrectly. That’s not the outcome I get when using my common sense.

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