- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 20, 2012

Just say no. Remember when Nancy Reagan deployed that simple, declarative statement in the war on drugs during the Reagan administration?

Well, while it did not produce the highest of possible marks, President Obama is right to redeploy it in the battles against teen pregnancy and school dropouts, and the war on syphilis, chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV/AIDS.

It’s a healing approach, even though it is viewed by many as contradictory to Mr. Obama’s newly evolved stance on same-sex marriage.

But really, folks. Please think about it for a minute.

The president did not endorse abstinence-only as a wholesale program.

What he did was prove his sex-education and women’s rights positions were also evolving, and he illustrated that by adding abstinence-only funding to comprehensive sex-education programs already in place.

Earlier in his presidency, Mr. Obama defunded abstinence-only programs, and places like the District of Columbia followed his lead.

Understand this as well: If there is no abstinence component, then the programs are not - I repeat, not - comprehensive but mere safe-sex approaches to educating youths and young adults about indulging in risky sexual behavior.

And that addressing such behavior, like it or not, should include arming youths and adults with the right to say “no.”

By no means is the evolution of Mr. Obama a panacea, since federal intervention rarely is.

Perhaps the president is looking for reinforcement as daughters Malia, who is 13, and Sasha, who turns 11 in a few weeks, inch closer to the ages when parental messages are often short-circuited by peer pressure and pleas like “But Dad, everybody’s … .”

Besides, Mr. Obama is probably keenly aware of the fact that when it comes to life-threatening choices of a sexual nature, the most effective prophylactic for both sexes is to “just say no” and let your actions back up those words.

Harry Thomas Jr. speaks

The results of the Ward 5 special election to replace Thomas have yet to be certified, but it looks as if Democrat Kenyan McDuffie will be seated on the D.C. Council before lawmakers cast their next vote on the fiscal 2013 budget, and that’s good timing for stakeholders, Thomas told me.

There’s much at stake in the ward, primarily economic-development projects, including Costco, Wal-Mart and small businesses, homeownership, new education opportunities such as a Hebrew-English immersion school and expanded middle-school facilities.

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