“Natalie Portman’s life is living, breathing, dancing proof of human potential.”
by Seth Eisenberg
Mike Huckabee is off Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied’s guest list for the engaged couple’s anticipated nuptials.
A day after the 29-year-old Harvard psychology graduate won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as Nina in Black Swan, the Republican presidential hopeful is making her out-of-wedlock pregnancy a political issue.
The longtime Arkansas governor and father of four who celebrates his 37th wedding anniversary this year, sat down with radio host Michael Medved this week to highlight what he believes are the real challenges facing America.
“One of the things that’s troubling is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, ‘Hey look, you know, we’re having children, we’re not married, but we’re having these children, and they’re doing just fine.’”
Never mind that Natalie Portman, born Natalie Hershlag in Jerusalem the day after Israeli warplanes took out the Iraqi nuclear site in Ossirac, grew up to a generation that overcame the horrors of the Holocaust to rebuild a thriving nation and contribute to communities throughout the world.
Never mind that as her father’s ancestors were marched to their death in Auschwitz at a time when few thought the Jewish People would survive Nazi genocide and the deafening silence of much of the free world, she is a symbol of humanity’s greatest potential against the backdrop of the ultimate expression of inhumanity.
Natalie Portman’s life is living, breathing, dancing proof of human potential. Instead of surrendering to the cruelties of history, her family passionately embraced life on their own terms, raising a daughter who could graduate from one of the world’s finest colleges and channel her great talents into becoming a celebrated artist.
Governor Huckabee’s point about creating a future in which children have the greatest opportunities to fulfill their potential is important. He’s right when he says:
“There aren’t really a lot of single moms out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie … Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can’t get a job, and if it weren’t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care. And that’s the story that we’re not seeing, and it’s unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out of children wedlock.”
But making Natalie Portman the poster child for out-of-wedlock pregnancies is a poor choice. It’s more likely Governor Huckabee was talking about the challenges facing young people and families of Arkansas in particular. A year after he left office, the state where he served as chief executive from 1996 to 2007 was dead last in the percentage of people under 25 who complete graduate school and second only to West Virginia for the lowest percentage of people earning a bachelor’s degree. Just four states have a lower level of high school graduation.
Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied’s joyful anticipation of their first child this summer, a son, is not the problem. With all due respect, making Natalie Portman the issue seems like a lousy way to provide the kind of leadership desperately needed to improve the lives of children and families.
While it’s hard to imagine that was Governor Huckabee’s intention, his comments to Michael Medved came across as more of what leads many people to get their news from Comedy Central’s John Stewart and Stephan Colbert instead of FOX, CNN, MSNBC, and other 24/7 news channels.
Criticizing a successful Harvard graduate and Academy Award winning actress is far from the real work needed to help America’s children have the best chance of growing up healthy, happy, and able to pursue their dreams and potential.
If Mike Huckabee’s comments are a hint of more of what we can expect as the 2012 Presidential elections approach, it’s tough to imagine any of it bodes well for tackling the very real challenges facing America’s children and families.