Here are all these things
The problem with going over to National Review’s blog The Corner for quick material, as I did last night, is that one tends to run across at least two or three other things that also need addressing. Online editor Kathryn Jean Lopez will inevitably be responsible for one of these things; in this case, it was the following post:
Fred Davis says that if the president wants to turn things around for his party, Barack Obama has to come clean and admit: “I was wrong.”
I trust no one is holding his breath waiting for that to happen.
To be fair to Lopez, Bush merely refrained from admitting he was a wrong about a war, whereas Obama has had the gall to not come out and say he was wrong about, I guess, politics.
Down the page, NRO’s editors have apparently decided that the following monologue from Charles Krauthammer on a court decision deeming DADT to be unconstitutional needed a wider audience:
And the federal government under Obama, I think in a principled way, went and tries to get a stay of that ruling and essentially to overturn it on the theory, and I think it’s a correct one, that you don’t make major changes in the mores of a country through the judges and not through the legislatures.
First of all, this country has no comprehensive set of “mores” holding that gays should not serve in the military. Secondly, we have here a professed constitutionalist suddenly deciding that the courts ought not do their job as spelled out in the Constitution if it can be described as potentially resulting in “major changes in the mores of a country.” Third, this contradicts Krauthammer’s own alleged and stated views on the criteria for legitimate court rulings:
In our current, corrupted debates about the judges, you hear only about results. Priscilla Owen, we were told (by the Alliance for Justice), “routinely backs corporations against worker and consumer protections.” Well, in what circumstances? In adjudicating what claims? Under what constitutional doctrine?
The real question is never what judges decide but how they decide it.
Or, you know, whatever.
Most egregiously, the editors of National Review are now trying to convince their readers to purchase the new book by contributor Stanley Kurtz, whom they have long tried to pass off as some sort of conservative scholar when in fact he is not even capable of making a cogent written argument, as I first noticed upon fisking his attempt at refuting the idea that gay marriage has not had some terrible impact upon heterosexual marriage in Scandinavia. Any liberal pundits who may be thinking of going so far as to read Kurtz’s book in order to refute it should save themselves the trouble and just read my examination of his attempt to write a magazine article:
A few years ago, Kurtz wrote a highly influential essay which set out to refute the work of William N. Eskridge, Jr., the John A. Garver professor of jurisprudence at Yale University, and Darren Spedale, a New York investment banker, who together had recently written a book called Gay Marriage: For Better or For Worse? What We’ve Learned From the Evidence. The authors discussed their preliminary findings in a Wall Street Journal op-ed before their work was more formally published (in fact, Kurtz weirdly dismisses it as “unpublished” several times in his article, as if it were somehow unseemly for a paper to exist between the time it is written and the time it is published).
Denmark, the authors noted, began allowing for gay civil unions in 1989. Ten years later, the heterosexual marriage rate had increased by 10.7 percent. Norway did the same in 1993. Ten years later, the heterosexual marriage rate had increased by 12.7 percent. Sweden followed suite in 1995. Ten years later, the heterosexual marriage rate had increased by 28.7 percent. And these marriages were actually lasting; during the same time frame, the divorce rate dropped by 13.9 percent in Denmark, 6 percent in Norway, and 13.7 percent in Sweden.
Confronted with statistics indicating that marriage in Scandinavia is in fine shape, Kurtz instead proclaimed that “Scandinavian marriage is now so weak that statistics on marriage and divorce no longer mean what they used to.”
Brushing aside numbers showing that Danish marriage was up ten percent from 1990 to 1996, Kurtz counters that “just-released marriage rates for 2001 show declines in Sweden and Denmark.” He didn’t bother to note that marriage rates they were down in 2001 for quite a few places, including the United States, which of course had no civil unions anywhere in 2001; presumably this was left out due to space constraints. In all seriousness, though, I’m not accusing Kurtz of being dishonest; it’s evident that he is simply unable to anticipate very obvious objections to his muddled, demonstrably incorrect analysis even despite having spent some years at Harvard obtaining a degree in social anthropology, a degree which is apparently worthless.
I will defend Kurtz further. Having not yet had access to the figures, he couldn’t have known that both American and Scandinavian marriage rates had gone back up in 2002, a year after the dip he deemed to be apocalyptic in gay-friendly Scandinavia while completely ignoring it in gay-adverse America. As for Norway, he says, the higher marriage rate “has more to do with the institution’s decline than with any renaissance. Much of the increase in Norway’s marriage rate is driven by older couples ‘catching up.'” It’s unclear exactly how old these “older couples” may be, but Kurtz thinks their marriages simply don’t count, and in fact constitute a sign of “the institution’s decline.” And of course, it’s clear from his phrasing that only a portion of the increase is attributable to these older citizens. So Kurtz’s position is that Norwegian marriage is in decline because not only are younger people getting married at a higher rate, but older people are as well. I don’t know what Kurtz makes per word, but I’m sure it would piss me off to find out.
Kurtz also wanted us to take divorce. “Take divorce,” Kurtz wrote. “It’s true that in Denmark, as elsewhere in Scandinavia, divorce numbers looked better in the nineties. But that’s because the pool of married people has been shrinking for some time. You can’t divorce without first getting married.” This is true. It’s also true that Denmark has a much lower divorce rate than the United States as a percentage of married couples, a method of calculation that makes the size of the married people pool irrelevant. Denmark’s percentage is 44.5, while the United States is at 54.8. Incidentally, those numbers come from the Heritage Foundation, which also sponsors reports on the danger that gay marriage poses to the heterosexual marriage rate.
Still, Kurtz is upset that many Scandinavian children are born out of wedlock. “About 60 percent of first-born children in Denmark now have unmarried parents,” he says. He doesn’t give us the percentage of second-born children who have unmarried parents, because that percentage is lower and would thus indicate that Scandinavian parents often marry after having their first child, as Kurtz himself later notes in the course of predicting that this will no longer be the case as gay civil unions continue to take their non-existent toll on Scandinavian marriage.
Since the rate by which Scandinavian couples have a child or two before getting married has been rising for decades, it’s hard to see what this has to do with gay marriage – unless, of course, you happen to be Stanley Kurtz. “Scandinavia’s out-of-wedlock birthrates may have risen more rapidly in the seventies, when marriage began its slide. But the push of that rate past the 50 percent mark during the nineties was in many ways more disturbing.” More disturbing indeed; by the mid-’90s, the Scandinavian republics had all instituted civil unions, and thus even the clear, long-established trajectory of such a trend as premature baby-bearing can be laid at the feet of the homos simply by establishing some arbitrary numerical benchmark that was obviously going to be reached anyway, calling this milestone “in many ways more disturbing,” and hinting that all of this is somehow the fault of the gays. By the same token, I can prove that the establishment of the Weekly Standard in 1995 has contributed to rampant world population growth. Sure, population growth has been increasing steadily for decades, but the push of that number past the 6 billion mark in 2000 was “in many ways more disturbing” to me for some weird reason that I can’t quite pin down because I’m all Kurtzing out over here. Of course, I’m being a little disingenuous – by virtue of its unparalleled support for the invasion of Iraq, the Weekly Standard has actually done more than its part to keep world population down.
Why is Kurtz so disturbed about out-of-wedlock rates? Personally, I think it would be preferable for a couple to have a child and then get married, as is more often the case in Scandinavia, rather than for a couple to have a child and then get divorced, as is more often the case in the United States. Kurtz doesn’t seem to feel this way, though, as it isn’t convenient for him to feel this way at this particular time. Here are all of these couples, he tells us, having babies without first filling out the proper baby-making paperwork with the proper bureaucratic agencies. What will become of the babies? Perhaps they’ll all die. Or perhaps they’ll continue to outperform their American counterparts in math and science.
Incidentally, Kurt is also a fellow at the Hudson Institute. So before you write your annual check to the Hudson Institute this year, I suggest you stop and think! Seriously, though, I’m going to steal his car.