It is simply a fact that our social problems are increasingly connected to the depravity of the poor. If an American works hard, completes their education, gets married, and stays married, then they will rarely — very rarely — be poor. At the same time, poverty is the handmaiden of illegitimacy, divorce, ignorance, and addiction. As we have poured money into welfare, we’ve done nothing to address the behaviors that lead to poverty while doing all we can to make that poverty more comfortable and sustainable.French here is committing the sadly common sin of assuming a correlation indicates a causation, and he's doing so in a way that conveniently reinforces his worldview. It is certainly true that people who complete an education and stay married are less likely to be poor. But it is not obvious that the former leads to the latter. Note that the second sentence quoted above:
If an American works hard, completes their education, gets married, and stays married, then they will rarely — very rarely — be poor.can easily be reversed to say the following:
If an American has money, they will complete their education, get married, stay married, and find meaningful employment.while still staying faithful to the correlation.
After all, these key things -- education, a successful marriage, and a job -- are a lot easier to come by if you're not poor. What's more, they're a lot easier to come by if your parents weren't poor. But just being born into a poor home means a person is going to have a much harder time coming by these key things that keep him or her out of poverty. That doesn't make the person depraved. It makes the person a victim of circumstances.
Some of that can be remedied, of course, or at least mitigated, through job training programs, a better public education system, and other things. But those generally fall under the category of government, and French doesn't want to cede a space for that. It's far easier to say that the poor are poor because there's something wrong with them.