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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.