Yet in the midst of all the reverberations, not even the paper that broke the
story acknowledged the contributions by (and subsequent vindication of) the
nation’s leading proponent of abstinence funding — former President George W.
It’s not as if The Washington Post wasn’t aware of Bush’s policies on abstinence. In April 2007, the paper ran a story questioning the effectiveness of the practice, beginning the piece with this critical refrain:
“A long-awaited national study has concluded that abstinence-only sex education, a cornerstone of the Bush administration's social agenda, does not keep teenagers from having sex. Neither does it increase or decrease the likelihood that if they do have sex, they will use a condom.”
Can a brother get some credit when it’s rightfully due him? If such a policy was the “cornerstone” of a president’s entire social agenda, and it was later discovered to contain some kernels of benefit and true policy impact, then why wouldn’t the Post want to acknowledge that? Is the former president no longer relevant? I don’t think so.
Apparently, the Obama administration doesn’t think so, either, as they incessantly lay the blame for all their policy woes on Bush’s doorstep.
In a blog post earlier this week by Focus on the Family, the organization highlighted four key discoveries on why this report should change the way abstinence programs are viewed and utilized. Students receiving abstinence-centered education:
- initiated sex less;
- had fewer sexual partners;
- did not reduce their use of condoms among the sexually active;
- had more pronounced risk reductions than those receiving safe-sex and comprehensive sex education.
Some longtime critics of abstinence programs did the right thing and embraced the study’s findings, even if it meant eating a little crow. In that same 2007 Post story, a spokeswoman for the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States dismissed Bush’s policy as too narrow. “Abstinence-only was an experiment and it failed,” said council spokeswoman Martha Kempner at the time. Then on Feb. 2, the Post quoted Monica Rodriguez of the council calling the study’s findings “exciting” and saying, “[W]e have a new tool to add to our repertoire.” Good for her, and for all those science-based academics interested in facts first, while leaving the hand-wringing rhetoric to the liberals who thought Jocelyn Elders belonged on Sesame Street.
Was any of this covered with the level of depth and attention it deserved, given its radioactive nature and the policy lines abstinence-only programs draw? Is the media’s hatred of Bush so visceral that should they acknowledge his role in this they may eventually be forced to acquiesce that (null!) he had something to do with preventing another terrorist attack on U.S. soil?!
I guess I’m not surprised by the short shrift President Bush received when this new study was released, but we all should be as a country. For when the media starts believing it has the omniscience to pick and choose what gets written in the annals of history, history suffers.
Williams can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Power 169 from 9 to 10 p.m. and from 5 to 6 a.m.