Obama's Speech to School Kids

Sadly, this weekend brought more evidence that there are some people in this great nation of ours who have lost their faith in democracy. The furor over President Obama’s speech to schoolchildren is ridiculous, of course. But, it is more pernicious than that, too.

The chairman of the Republican Party in Florida threw out the charge that the President intended to "indoctrinate America’s children to his socialist agenda." Mr. Glenn Beck, who is a walking example of how you can be educated and yet still be dumb with a capital "B," repeated the charge of "indoctrination" but added this warning: "They are capturing your kids….Stand guard America. Your republic is under attack."


The speech, the text of which was released a day early at the White House website so that any concerned parents could see for themselves what the President will say, could scarcely be less partisan, unless you belong to the "School Slouches Party." The President says, "We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country. really important for everyone to respect the president of the United States." Conservatives: Police Your Own. And, someone at Fox should do the nation a favor and pull Glenn Beck off the air. He is a disgrace.

Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork." Wow. That’s some attack on the republic.

Not all Republicans are bonkers, of course. Former First Lady Laura Bush, who made education a focus of her time in the White House, applauded the President and chastised his critics. Matthew Dowd, who was chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney campaign, said on George Stephanopoulos’s show yesterday that it is a sad day in America when the President of the United States cannot give a non-partisan speech encouraging students to do well in school.

Nor is political idiocy limited to the right. Michael Moore and the Moveon.org crowd cross the line with equal abandon. It is as offensive to say that President Bush was guilty of treason as it is to suggest that Obama is trying to indoctrinate our kids. Still, I do not recall people showing up with assault rifles to events where President Bush was speaking and the GOP did not have an entire network, Fox, whose sole purpose was to distort the news and bring down the President. And, the "birthers" seem to be the twenty-first century equivalent of the Birchers, members of the paranoid John Birch Society which saw communism behind every tree and treason in every heart.

Foolishness is one thing, but Mrs. Bush was correct to point out that we should teach our children that it is "really important for everyone to respect the president of the United States."


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9 years 4 months ago
I have three children and no objections to the presidential school speech.
Fundamentally, however, such speeches, whether by Bush senior or Obama, are not part of the American political tradition.  This goes double for "recommended" follow on activities. I hope that these sheeches and follow on activities remain very rare and are not part of a budding pattern.
9 years 4 months ago
Here we go!  "Conservatives: Police Your Own," coming from the man who said his hand would fall off if he ever voted for a republican.  Just few questions for anyone interested in Ignation thought.  1.  Does anyone remember 2001,when Mr Bush gave a similiar speech,the outrage (including a official protest from the NEA) and congressional hearings, if so what's the differnece?  2.  What does police your own mean?  This is a free country and while partisan feelings may tend to gravitate toward one side of a spectrum should we be forced to comply or die?  I believe "liberal Catholics when they say they're pro life!  Who is policing you?  To police means to force, to force means to deny freedom and dignity, and to deny freedom and dignity robs human beings their full capicity to love God and each other, no matter what side of the spectrum your on.
9 years 4 months ago
It can only be one thing: racism
9 years 4 months ago
"Not all Republicans are bonkers"?  Is this what passes for "civilized" commentary from America?  Way to lower the level of the conversation, Mr. Winters.
As for the president's speech, the surpassing majority of the criticism was over the bizarre background material for teachers, which prodded young students to ask "What can I do for Obama?"  Nothing Reagan or Bush said ever came close to this kind of "Dear Leader" nonsense.  And the White House deleted these questions after the initial uproar - - a fact conveniently missing from the author's post.
9 years 4 months ago
There seem to be some problems with this post that are peculiar.  Words are out of order.  Did the President really say that children should respect the President??!!  And since when was Maureen Dowd cheif strategist for Bush-Cheney campaign?  Is this a joke?
9 years 4 months ago
Holy smokes! A sensibly-written article that doesn't inflame the issue by accusing Obama's critics of racism. That's pretty much unheard of these days. Keep this up and I just might subscribe :-)
9 years 4 months ago
I see now that I misread "Matthew Dowd" as "Maureen Dowd" ... but the other wording problems are still there.  Maybe it's my computer that is messing the words up?
The words of Laura Bush are printed at the end of the President's words, making it look like he said them.  The last 3 lines of the article are repeated at the end of the 3rd paragraph.
If there were a way to point this out this editting problem without publicly commenting, I would.
9 years 4 months ago
@beth cioffolettti - reread what MSW wrote more carefully - first, Matthew (not Maureen) Dowd was in fact a strategist for the Bush/Cheney campaign, and second, Laura Bush (not Obama) said that children should respect the President.
@Jack Ryan - Bonkers is as bonkers does.  A few examples: claiming that the proposed reforms will lead to ''death panels'', claming Obama is a Nazi, whipping up fear and loathing about illegal immigrants because the *might* be able to buy health insurance, and insisting that an innocuous request that students write about ''how to help the President'' is something sinister or reflects a ''dear leader'' culture.  It makes me laugh that you could even claim that MSW's comments ''lower the level of the conversation''.  Bonkers is putting it mildly.
9 years 4 months ago

John A is similarly addicted to name-calling, obviously.  It's so sad it's funny.  
Let's go back in time to the Reagan presidency, the Bush 41 presidency, or the Bush 43, presidency.  Let's say Reagan's speech was accompanies by leftist "teaching manuals" telling students to ask themselves, "How can I help Reagan?"  Or more recently,"How can I help Bush?"  John A and Mr. Winters don't want to answer these questions, because they know full well that they would have had nose bleeds if this had happened during a republican presidency.

9 years 4 months ago
I live in Texas, otherwise known as "wingnuttiaville."  (I moved here in 1982 when I was 33.)  Texas public schools rank dead last or near dead last year after year in nationwide surveys of academic achievement.  One would think that parents here would be thrilled for anyone who could walk and chew gum at the same time to give their kids a "stay in school and excel" pep talk.  Wrong!  Keep in mind that 76% of the people born in Texas never ever live outside of Texas during their entire lifetimes.  As a result, Texas is furtile ground for inbred non-thinking about President Obama being a socialist/fascist/communist, etc., etc.  People here eat that stuff up. 
I'm hoping that some non-partisan polling organization will take a look around the country at how school districts handled access to President Obama's speech.  I suspect that, like Texas, many of the states who wallow in the lowest quartile academically severely restricted access to the president's speech.
As for Texas, the president's speech conflicted with the scheduled time for Creationism 101.
9 years 4 months ago
     Somewhere in all the loathing that is given such prominence by the media, there is still a little bit of awe at what was accomplished when this nation was founded.  This is what makes it important when a President addresses anyone. 
     The President represents our better selves even when the particular individual in the role of President is not necessarily of the highest intelligence or moral character. (not speaking of Obama, of course)  The institutions of government, the President, Congress, and the Court, work pretty much they way they were intended by our nation's Founding Fathers, making every citizen of this large nation part of its government while also protecting each individual from oppression by preferences of the majority. 
    It is a good thing when school children are made aware of their importance to the nation by having the nation's President speak to them directly.  Just as this approach works for dictatorships as a way of brainwashing the children into supporting their leader, it serves as a way for our children to learn that they are part of our form of government. 


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