Good Friday Morning! One of my favorite writers, political or otherwise, has always been Jonah Goldberg. And I always laughed at his stories of what it was like trying to write on the road. I find myself doing that this week, writing from a hotel room in Memphis, and enjoying amenities like internet connections powered by half-asleep hamsters.
I’m a millennial, so of course, the sketchy internet signal is the most severe setback I’ve faced on this trip. That’s saying something because I also forgot to bring a pair of non-dress socks (I do have plenty of underwear — hi mom!). But back getting this train on the tracks, I wanted to expand on some observations I had this week watching the outpouring for Kobe Bryant. Links to follow.
Where you can find me this week
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This week on the show, host Daniel Vaughan the life of Kobe Bryant, what he meant, and why the media is nothing but vultures when a major person in our culture dies. He also talks about whether or not impeachment by the minority party is our new political normal.
We’re at the part of Democrats’ process of realizing impeachment is going to fail that they’re making up wild theories that John Roberts will swoop in and save the day.
I had sat down to write a column on another topic the moment I saw the tragic news of Kobe Bryant’s passing. It caused me to pause and write down some thoughts on what I liked so much about Kobe.
Kobe Bryant: Death of a father
I’m not going to lie. The death of Kobe Bryant hit me harder than any other celebrity death in recent memory. Admittedly, he was my favorite player growing up. I watched Jordan as a kid and enjoyed Space Jam, but Kobe was my guy. I saw every single one of Kobe’s titles, I’ve watched all the highlight videos, and for the longest, I’d argue he was better than LeBron. I’ve experienced plenty of celebrity deaths, from movies or music that I enjoyed a lot, but none of them his me like Kobe.
Kobe hit differently. And I was trying to put my finger on what made that impact hit so much harder, and what I came up to was that it hurt more because we didn’t lose Kobe, the basketball player — he was already retired. We lost Kobe Bryant, the father; the guy who had shifted his life into a second career where he was doing a lot of exciting things, but at the forefront was his status as a dad to his daughters.
Kobe died not as a basketball player, not as a businessman, but as a dad, taking his daughter to basketball practice. In an interview, Kobe laid out that the reason he started using helicopters was that it gave him more time to spend with his family.
“But then, traffic started getting really, really bad, right? And I was sitting in traffic and I wind up missing like a school play because I was sitting in traffic. This thing just kept mounting. I had to figure out a way where I could still train and focus on the craft but still not compromise family time. So that’s when I looked into helicopters and be able to get down and back in 15 minutes. And that’s when it started. And so my routine was always the same. Weights early in the morning, kids to school, fly down, practice like crazy, do my extra work, media, everything I needed to do, fly back, get back in carpool line, pick the kids up. And my wife was like, ‘Listen, I can pick them up.’ I’m like, ‘No, no, no. I want to do that.’ Because like you have road trips and times where you don’t see your kids, man. So every chance I get to see them and spend time with them — even if it’s 20 minutes in your car — like, I want that.”
Emphasizing this point was the fact that his daughter, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant, died in the crash too. It was a tragedy multiplied several times over.
And then, the tributes to Kobe brought out fatherhood even more. Whether it was the viral clip of him talking to his daughter about the game, the clip of him happily talking about his family on Kimmel, or the viral clip of an ESPN anchor Elle Duncan talking about how Kobe’s joy of being a “girl dad,” was infectious.
From Shaq talking about how he was reaching out to talk to and connect to loved ones around him, to the #GirlDad viral hashtag from Elle Duncan’s story, the fallout of Kobe’s death is one of placing preeminence on family and fatherhood.
The cultural problem of fatherlessness
Cultural conservatives have long pointed to the problem of a lack of fathers in the home. In the 80s and 90s, the lack of black fathers around was a common retort to issues in black communities. But fatherlessness isn’t a problem of race — it’s a problem everywhere.
There is a father absence crisis in America. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 19.7 million children, more than 1 in 4, live without a father in the home. Consequently, there is a father factor in nearly all social ills facing America today.
There’s a lack of dads everywhere. And it’s a growing trend.
- Among children who were part of the “post-war generation,” 87.7% grew up with two biological parents who were married to each other. Today only 68.1% will spend their entire childhood in an intact family.
- With the increasing number of premarital births and a continuing high divorce rate, the proportion of children living with just one parent rose from 9.1% in 1960 to 20.7% in 2012. Currently, 55.1% of all black children, 31.1% of all Hispanic children, and 20.7% of all white children are living in single-parent homes.
- White children born in the 1950-1954 period spent only 8% of their childhood with just one parent; black children spent 22%. Of those born in 1980, by one estimate, white children can be expected to spend 31% of their childhood years with one parent, and black children 59%.
White households are where black homes were just a few decades ago — when whites pointed to fatherlessness as the problem. It’s not a race problem. It’s a cultural problem.
This is one of those times where I don’t have any concrete policy solutions to the real issue. Watching the tributes flow in for Kobe, it struck me how much we celebrate his fatherhood, what he lost as a father in death, and how we need a world with more men like that around.
I hope his death is a catalyst for change on that front, and we don’t easily forget it.
Links of the week
Women at the March for Life Reject the Pro-Choice Feminist Narrative – Katie Yoder, National Review
It’s Jussie Smollett Day – Kyle Smith, National Review
CBO estimates $1 trillion deficits indefinitely – Tiana Lowe, The Washington Examiner
Running Bernie Sanders Against Trump Would Be an Act of Insanity – Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine
The Kobe I Knew Became a Champion for Others: The Lakers legend was fearless, driven, and excellent. – Jemele Hill, The Atlantic
Palestinians must wake up to new reality in Mideast – John Podhoretz, NYPost
The flu is much deadlier than the Chinese coronavirus. Why we panic about coronavirus, but not the flu: If you’re freaking out about coronavirus but you didn’t get a flu shot, you’ve got it backwards. – Bob Herman, Axios
State Department warns against travel to China amid coronavirus outbreak: There are nearly 9,700 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in China, with 213 deaths, Chinese health officials said. – NBCNews
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire piece of the week
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Democratic leaders in the House called on their Republican colleagues in the Senate to run a fair and thorough impeachment trial instead of a farce as they did when they held impeachment hearings.
“We demand Republicans take this seriously and not make this into a circus as we did,” Pelosi said sternly. “I would hope the Senate would carry out their solemn duty and not make this a big charade, you know, as we did in the House.”
“This is a very solemn occasion, and Senate Republicans have a duty to treat it as such.”
She then handed out big, commemorative foam fingers reading “IMPEACH 45.”
Thanks for reading!