"You can judge the character of a man by the way he treats his women, his children, and his animals," according to author and gender expert Dr. Pat Allen. By these criteria, our president stands head and shoulders above his GOP challengers.
Obama Respects Women: Obama fell in love with, courted, and won the heart of Michelle Robinson -- a smart, beautiful, professional woman who undoubtedly had her pick of suitors (or who could have chosen to stay happily single if she'd wanted to). Obama invited his mother-in-law, Marian Robinson (another strong woman) to live with him and his family in the White House. He clearly loves and cherishes the strong women in his family and isn't intimidated or put off by their brains, accomplishments, or powerful personalities. Obama was undoubtedly influenced by his own mother -- a well-educated, courageous woman who followed her professional interests to exotic countries around the world -- and his mother's mother, a confident, self-made woman who helped raise him.
Obama is Committed to Children: As the father of two daughters, Sasha and Malia, Obama is especially concerned with the future of women in America -- and the world. He is committed to education because he knows from personal experience that a good education is the ticket to a promising future. He provides a good education for his own kids, and he wants the same for others' kids, too, because he knows that more education leads to better health, longer life, and higher lifetime income. Obama understands that even if a woman chooses to be a stay-at-home mom, she will be a better mom for her having an education. Moms who know how to read, write, think, and speak will raise smart, capable, creative children -- the future of our country.
Obama Cares about Animals: Our president understands that having a pet is a big responsibility -- he did not capitulate to his girls' desire for a dog until he was sure that they were mature enough and ready to be good dog owners. He and his family did their research on various breeds, considering Malia's allergies, before agreeing to accept the gift of a sweet dog from a family friend, Ted Kennedy. When Bo the family dog travels, he rides in the car with the family -- not locked in a kennel on top of the presidential limo.
These are but a handful of reasons why Obama is the right man for the job of president. Obama takes good care of his women, his children, and his animals. He is a man of character -- he is a real mensch. Women can trust him... and men can trust him, too.
But trust is based on more than character -- trust requires competence as well as character. Can we trust Obama's competence? Well, let's see...
Political Skills and Strategic Alliances: Four years ago he ran against a strong, articulate, powerful women, Hillary Clinton. In that hard-fought campaign, he never resorted to sexist innuendos, derogatory put-downs, or condescending tones of voice. He handled the competition in a professional, dignified manner, showing his respect for Clinton even when he disagreed with her. After he prevailed in the primary campaign, he promptly enlisted her as his ally, and together they have been a powerful pair on the world stage.
Women's Health: Obama stands fast in his support of women's health. His recent defense of Planned Parenthood is simply one example. He defends a woman's right to control her own body and make personal choices in consultation with her own doctor and her family. Republican candidates may preach the gospel of personal freedom and limited government but their rhetoric doesn't match the reality of their actions -- draconian legislation forcing women to undergo invasive medical procedures they neither want nor need. Obama stands with women in asserting our right to control our own bodies, our own sex lives, and our own family size.
American Jobs and Family Values: Obama saved the American auto industry while his chief GOP challenger asserted that the Big Three should have been allowed to go under. Where are the famed Republican "family values" when they're willing to let hundreds of thousands -- perhaps millions -- of working class and middle class families go under along with their automotive employers?
National Defense: Obama has proven to be a superb Commander in Chief -- taking out dozens of terrorist leaders, including Osama bin Laden. Obama inherited Bush's folly -- a bad war in Iraq -- and he got us out of there as fast and effectively as he could under extremely difficult circumstances. The president has moved to extricate us from the quagmire in Afghanistan -- an intractable, unwinnable, expensive conflict. Obama is no lightweight when it comes to defending America's interests. As a student of theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, our Commander in Chief understands that evil exists in the world and even peace-loving Christians must sometimes take up arms to defend themselves, and their friends and allies.
Peace Leader: War is hell -- it is an option that should only be used a last resort, after all other options have failed. As a conscientious, compassionate leader, Obama is rightly reluctant to send our young people off to fight and die on foreign soil. He exercises appropriate restraint in dealing with international problems. As a father, as a Christian, and as the Leader of the Free World, Obama understands that we will have peace in the world only when all nations love their children more than they hate their enemies.
Defender of the Middle Class: Obama is committed to helping the middle class, so badly hurt in the Great Recession inherited from his predecessor. His mortgage relief programs, his tax proposals, his extension of unemployment benefits, and myriad of other initiatives speak volumes about his commitment to our economic well-being. Middle class families, middle class women, middle class kids, and yes, middle class men -- all have a champion in Barack Obama.
As a child of divorce, as a latch-key kid with a working single mom, raised by his grandmother, Obama knows all too well what's on women's minds and what's in their hearts. He cares about women; he's committed to women; and yes, I think he loves women. He is our champion. He is our defender. He is our hero.
BJ Gallagher is the coauthor of " Women's Declaration of Interdependence."
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