I didn't intend to comment on President Obama's speech to students yesterday. My overall reaction to both Obama's speech and the conservatives' reaction has been something along the lines of "whatever" -but reading the Tennessean today and stumbling across yet another example of misguided editorializing on the matter has been the final straw for me.
Before he gave what turned out to be an innocuous education speech to schoolchildren around the country on Tuesday, critics accused him of trying to indoctrinate children to support him. In the end, Obama's message — do your homework and be responsible for yourself — was similar to the messages that students heard from Republicans Ronald Reagan in 1988 and George H. W. Bush in 1991.
Would everybody please shut-up about George Bush's speech to school children in 1991? As the Cato Institute notes, giving that speech landed him a Congressional investigation:
But when President George H.W. Bush delivered a similar speech on October 1, 1991, from Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington DC, the controversy was just beginning. Democrats, then the majority party in Congress, not only denounced Bush's speech -- they also ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate its production and later summoned top Bush administration officials to Capitol Hill for an extensive hearing on the issue.
Clear enough? I'm a little more than annoyed that a columnist for Tennessee's newspaper of record can't bother to look into the context of the facts that he presents to avoid publishing them in a way that leaves readers less- not more- informed (I certainly hope it was not his purpose to intentionally mislead).
And was the speech innocuous? That's what everyone's saying. I haven't bothered to read or hear it. I'll take everyone's word for it. But are commentators just being intentionally thick when they ignore the fact that the speech released Monday and given Tuesday was most definitely edited after the controversy broke?
Are they also deliberately ignoring the scrapped lesson plans released by the Obama Administration for schools to use after the speech? These included an assignment asking students to "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president." How isn't that politically charged?
Would Democrats want George W. Bush's White House to have sent lesson plans to schools asking students how they can "help the president?" What if they or their parents wouldn't have wanted to help the president wage his war in Iraq? Or pass his Patriot Act? Wouldn't Democrats have been outraged? And shouldn't they have been?
And why shouldn't conservatives be outraged when Obama has tried to deceive the American people over health care (seriously, Mr. President, you cannot maintain with a straight face that this is a badly needed, revolutionary reform AND that we can keep our health insurance just the way we like it if we don't want it to change), and now wants to talk to their children.
Why shouldn't they want to keep their kids away when Obama and his followers have ridiculed and marginalized them for participating in the process and making their voices heard on the health care debate? He's going to tell them to shut up and sit down, his allies in Congress are going to call their grassroots efforts "astroturf," and then he's going to wonder why they don't want him talking to their kids?
Frankly I'm getting tired of him talking to me.