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COLUMN

What do a spoiled brat, Barbie, food stamps and 'racists' have in common?

They're symbols of how America is changing, and not for the better

Saturday, March 8, 2014 - 12:01 am

Information is supposed to produce enlightenment. And yet, for those who still bother to pay attention, the hypocrisy that too often passes for news seems to generate mostly an amusing sort of puzzlement.

Is Girl Scouts USA trying to prematurely sexualize its young members by entering into a partnership with Mattel, maker of the iconic Barbie doll, who recently strutted her stuff in Sports Illustrated's famed swimsuit edition?

Two advocacy groups apparently think so, complaining this week that the national organization's $2 million sponsorship deal with Mattel “idealizes an impossible body type and undermines the Girl Scouts' vital mission to build 'girls of courage, confidence and character.' ”

As if character can't look good in a bikini. In her 55 years of existence, Barbie has pursued something like 150 different careers, and perhaps the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for a New American Dream would feel better had she done so while hiding her figure beneath an olive-drab military uniform. Then again, a recent survey showed that fewer than 8 percent of Army women want to serve in combat despite suggestions to the contrary.

I might have missed it, but I don't think the groups complained about prematurely sexualizing girls when the organization recently honored late-term abortion defenders such as Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Meanwhile, Morristown N.J., teen-ager Rachel Canning was widely and correctly perceived as a spoiled brat this week after a judge refused to order her parents to pay her $650 a week in support and future college tuition. Her parents had argued the 18-year-old had moved out on her own, refusing to follow their rules.

I might have missed it, but aren't people entitled to a certain lifestyle regardless of whether they follow the rules – or even the laws?

In Indiana, lawmakers have been criticized for suggesting that food stamp recipients submit to drug tests and be restricted to purchasing only healthy food.

I might have missed it, but I does the ACLU object when people who actually earn their paychecks are required to take a pre-employment drug test? Was there an outcry when First Lady Michelle Obama last year announced new school nutrition guidelines, or last month when she announced new rules for limiting junk-food ads in schools?

This very week, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa was labeled a racist by some after he cut off the microphone of an irate Rep. Elija Cummings following a hearing on the IRS' alleged targeting of conservative groups.

I might have missed it, but I haven't heard anyone accuse Rutgers University professors and students who are demanding that the university rescind its speaking invitation to Condoleeza Rice, who served under Republican President George W. Bush as the nation's first black Secretary of State.

It is all very confusing, but perhaps the critics would find Barbie less threatening if she would put on a few pounds, quit all those stereotypical jobs and go on food stamps or ditch that white-bread Ken for an edgy lesbian lover. For now, though, both she and Canning are fitting icons of the nation we are allowing America to become: a politically and personally unprincipled place in which honest achievement is viewed less as something to be admired and pursued with imagination and effort, and more as something to fear, resent and diminish for personal gain -- through the courts and government if necessary.

Where's Judge or President Barbie when you really need her? I bet she would really fill out a black robe . .

Three heads better than one?

After working as a reporter in Fort Wayne for nearly 35 years, I've seen the truth of the adage, “personnel is policy”: The structure of government is less important than the integrity, intelligence and skill of the people who do the governing.

So it's surprising – and maybe even a little disappointing -- to see Greater Fort Wayne Inc. make a bill that would allow voters to replace the three Allen County Commissioners with a single executive and to expand County Council one of its top priorities. Making county government more like the city may or may not be a good idea, but surely the county's leading economic development group knows better than to expect a relatively minor change in bureaucracy to yield big real-world results.

Because a single executive would have more power, that person could be more effective -- or less -- than the system we have now, depending on who it is. Only an election can determine that, but the Founders knew that the separation of powers can be a good thing.

Too bad the one president they gave us doesn't believe that.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Kevin Leininger at kleininger@news-sentinel.com or call him at 461-8355