Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hey, Mr. President, leave those kids alone

President Reagan spoke to school children when he was in office over two decades ago; so did President Bush the first. Sadly, there's little doubt that many (but not all) of the people screaming about President Barack Obama's nationally broadcast classroom snooze-inducer had, or would have had, no problem with the speeches given by Republican office-holders in educational settings. But beyond partisanship, there's good reason to object to today's presidential eat-your-veggies nag-fest. Frankly, mere government officials have no business bypassing parents and speaking directly to children.

There's something unseemly about the idea of politicians in general eating up valuable school time for a one-on-one with kids. Most of us seem to know that it's wrong to let a city councilman or a state legislator pretend to have any moral high ground on which to stand while addressing tots and teens. "What's that SOB up to?" we ask ourselves. "Is he planning a Senate run ten years out and already stroking future voters?"

But that healthy skepticism seems to evaporate when it comes to whatever ethically challenged work-dodger is currently resident in the White House. For some reason, we've laden the office of the presidency with far more prestige and respect than the founders ever thought appropriate. From an office that George Washington simply described as "chief magistrate," the presidency has mutated into what presidential scholar Gene Healy snarkily refers to as "a soul nourisher, a hope giver, a living American talisman against hurricanes, terrorism, economic downturns, and spiritual malaise."

The presidency has taken on the characteristics of a secular papacy -- an unhealthy quality in a republic where free people are supposed to take responsibility for their own lives.

Remarkably, even after scrubbing the originally worshipful lesson plan (PDF) for President Obama's speech, the Department of Education wants students to ask of themseves, "How will he inspire us?"

Inspire us? He's a politician. At best, we can hope he doesn't put everybody in the classroom into a coma and then steal their iPods.

And all this before we even get to the fact that the Constitution gives the federal government, of which the president is just one part, no authority whatsoever over education. Go ahead and check: war, diplomacy, commerce -- but nothing about education. That's a state, local and family matter. There's no more reason to let President Obama nag children about their futures than there is to hand an hour of classroom time to the head of the plumber's union.

Whether you approve or disapprove of any given president's policies isn't the issue. What's important is that the president is a government official with no authority over schools, and no business speaking directly to kids.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you actually believe the convoluted explanation provide, you are deluded and need to sign up for some training course that will improve your perspective on reality. However, I suspect you are merely another right winger masquerading as a rationalist so as to disguise your ultra critical motives. In general, the believe that the President needs the equivalent of a referendum to offer sound advice to students is as nonsensical as it sounds. And the part about the constitution is actually humorous. You vent your prejudices and throw in the constitution for good measure! Give it up already, McCain and the Republicans lost the election by 10 million votes, more than five times the plurality of Bush in two elections. Sit down, breath the clear air, and let those neurons rest for, say, four years. Yes you can say whatever you want but keep in mind only the lunatic fringe is listening

September 9, 2009 1:03 AM  
Blogger prettypalomino said...

We may be the fringe, but you sir are the lunatic.

September 9, 2009 4:40 AM  
Anonymous The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit said...

Worse. A lunatic with a serious lack of spelling ability. It's no wonder he can't appear to think, either.

I'd say "publik skool grajuate."

September 9, 2009 7:13 AM  
Blogger Debbie H. said...

I really don't get all the controversy. Why would people who send their kids to government schools be afraid of one speech by the president of said government?

Anyone who is really that upset needs to think long and hard about why they even have their kids in that situation. On a daily basis, they are pounded with messages, some overt and some less so, about how great the government is and how we need the government to do things like educate the masses.

If this controversy does nothing else, I hope it wakes up a parent or two to just get their kid the heck out of there.

September 10, 2009 1:41 PM  
Blogger LeDaro said...

If Reagan speaks to children then it is ok. And parents should bus their children miles to listen to ex-Prez Bush then it is ok but listening to Obama is so wrong. Man o Man what a distorted logic. Creepy.

September 11, 2009 8:41 AM  
Blogger J.D. Tuccille said...


I'm just going to assume that your reading comprehension skills are a little ... limited.

For you, here's the simple version:

Presidents Reagan and Bush talked to schoolkids and many conservatives didn't complain. The conservatives who didn't complain then but complain now are hypocritical. In fact, no presidents, no matter their party, should be wasting schoolkids' time.

Is that simple enough?

September 11, 2009 8:55 AM  
Blogger LeDaro said...

Com'n now. All these issues are being raised now because Obama is President. No such issues were so consuming when Bush and Reagan spoke to students.

Any legitimately successful person should speak to children to inspire them to work hard. These very neo-cons who are objecting are bussing their children to some stadium in Texas to listen to moron Bush. The whole argument against Obama now is idiotic.

September 11, 2009 10:02 AM  
Blogger J.D. Tuccille said...


As I remember it, the then opposition was harshly critical, for both partisan and good reasons (the two sometimes coincide) of Bush's school speech. The tables have been turned, but the objections remain valid.

As for neo-cons ...

What in Hell does that have to do with the criticisms here? I was critical of Bush in his day, now I'm critical of Obama, who is currently in power.

Repeat after me: I don't have to declare fealty to either Team Red or Team Blue... I don't have to declare fealty to either Team Red or Team Blue...

September 11, 2009 10:21 AM  
Blogger LeDaro said...

Good for you. Lock up your children if you have any. What right they have to learn? If you're their role model then I feel sorry for them.

September 11, 2009 10:28 AM  
Blogger J.D. Tuccille said...

Enjoy the Kool Aid, LeDaro. It's apparently all you have going for you.

September 11, 2009 10:33 AM  
Blogger LeDaro said...

And you must get rid of T.V., computer, and telephone because your kids, if such poor souls exist in your vicinity, may to try to listen to the president

September 11, 2009 10:40 AM  

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