I've got a pledge I'd like all the 2012 presidential aspirants to make, says Frank Bruni in The New York Times: "How about everyone's agreeing to shut up about their kids?" President Obama recently trotted out his daughters to shame Republicans over their debt-limit brinksmanship. And on the GOP side, there's a virtual "reproductive arms race." At a recent debate, Rick Santorum mentioned his seven kids, Michele Bachmann plugged her five children and 23 foster kids, and Mitt Romney "ticked off five sons, five daughters-in-law and, lest he let Bachmann lap him, 16 grandchildren. This unfortunate surge in politicians' use of their kids as political props doesn't say anything worthwhile about how Candidate Parent would govern — and it doesn't do the kids any good, either. Here, an excerpt:
A big part of what all of these Republican candidates are doing is trying to appeal to anti-abortion voters. But they and other politicians, including both the Democratic and Republican members of Congress who brought up their offspring during last week's fiscal wrangling, are also sending the message that they can be trusted to whittle down the debt, shore up the country and otherwise safeguard the future precisely because they have a direct biological stake in it. If they breed, they lead, or so their self-promotion holds.
That's ludicrous. Progeny aren't proof of caring and farsightedness, qualities manifest in politicians who never procreated — George Washington, for example. This Founding Father fathered none. He nonetheless proved eminently capable of the long view.... Having kids isn't the same as doing right by them, and candidates who seek credit for parenthood are also asking to be judged by the results. That may be the best reason of all to keep them far from the trail.
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