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Why Did the President Agree to Debate on His 20th Anniversary?

October 10, 2012

We all remember the President beginning his introductory statement acknowledging his anniversary that day and promising his wife that next year they would not be having a debate on that day.   But why did he agree to have the debate on their 20th anniversary in the first place?  Americans like round numbers.  It’s a big deal when we finally become 10 years old, or leave our teens and become 20.   Definite congratulations are in order to spouses who weather the trials of marriage and make it to 20 years — a most substantial number.  In a way they can say they are more married than others junior to them because they have 20 years under their marital belt and bedcovers.   The 20th anniversary is a milestone in marriage and important gifts are associated with that year.  The traditional gift is China.  The modern gift is platinum.  Yes, that’s right.  You may have thought platinum was something like the 75th anniversary way after silver and gold, but there has been quite alot of what I will call marriage commitment deflation these days.  With one in every two marriages in America ending in divorce, making it to 20 years is considered quite the task, and so platinum, because of its enduring nature, has been chosen by the arbiters of modern marriage symbols.  And for a p0litical power couple such as the Obamas to reach this milestone is even more impressive given the undoubted substantial demands on their time as a couple. 

Can’t the leader of the free world decide to put the debate on hold for a day or two so he can celebrate an incredible milestone with his wife?  Or why not put it a day before?  Do you really think the Obamas had a leisurely romantic dinner or lunch sometime that day or even a wonderful breakfast with friends and family?  No doubt they exchanged words, but over all hung the tension and drama of the debate making for a very memorable anniversary but not by virtue of resting in the memories and joys of 20 years of marriage. Despite reports downplaying the importance of the debates overall, no real politician or advisor worth his salt would ignore what could provide an opportunity for either side to score a TKO.  (I suppose it is possible that the Obamas, assured in the husband’s overwhelming victory planned to celebrate both afterwards.  If that is true, they were in for quite the punctured balloon.

We know that the President’s father, Barack Sr., disparaged the institution of marriage.  He married the President’s mother while being married to a Kenyan woman.  The first wife eventually divorced the cheating father.  The second wife, Ann Dunham, astonishingly, did not set much store by the institution either.  According to D’Souza’s 2016, she continually pined for the man who used her and left her.  Her second marriage to Lolo Soetero ended in divorce apparently in part because of dramatic political differences between Dunham, a soldier for “New Deal, Peace Corps, position-paper liberalism” according to her son, and Soetero, a devoted, and apparently successful, capitalist.  Dunham was seemingly enamored of Barack Sr.’s ideology, which according to 2016 was decidely anti-West, over the institution of marriage.   

Modern feminism stops just short of calling marriage an evil institution invented by patriarchal societies to shackle women.  Its political aspirations though are so directed to the idea of fundamentally transforming the notion of a lifelong commitment of husband and wife that its effects have witnessed destruction of the institution itself.

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