Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Obama+Speech = Obvious Communism

It is the oldest mathematical equation known to humankind, much like the book that I never really understood "Sideways Math from Wayside School" or called something like that. What I'm saying is I have absolutely no idea why parents and some educators objected to President Obama's "Welcome Back to School" speech that was presented to select students across the country earlier today.

The thing that absolutely bothers me the most about this non-issue is that adults were objecting to the prospect that President Obama would include beliefs and concepts in his speech that may not 100% agree with the parents' point of view. This is annoying for two reasons. First, people objected without even having a clue what the president was going to say - without any sort of idea about anything specific, people had a huge problem with this speech. Second, and the bigger issue I have, is the belief that your children are somehow better off if they are only exposed to ideas that agree with those of their parents. How are the kids supposed to learn to cope with adversity, disagreement, or challenges to their beliefs if they are insulated from things as simple as a speech from the overwhelmingly elected President of the United States of America (who, again, may or may not be saying anything disagreeable in the first place) who is more or less telling the kids "Thanks for coming, stay in school, don't do drugs, and please worship Karl Marx (now corrected because Charlie made me feel highly uneducated when he noted that Karl is spelled with a K not C. The worst part is that I totally know this one, too) and I'll give you candy".


Jeff Caminsky said...

I think most objections can be traced to the same roots that caused such an uproar in 1991, when Bush I made a similar, though more modest, speech to a bunch of schoolkids. Then, it was the Dems who were going ballistic; today, it's again the "other party." This suggest that the main cause for objecting is "This guy is from the OTHER party!"

For myself...I think it would be nice if every president said something like: "Study hard, obey the rules, and make us proud of you"...and if people accepted it as something nice that public officials could do from time to time to help us feel more connected as a country. But then, I always have unrealistic about some things.

BobA said...

This is rather late, and rather long. Perhaps you would prefer it as a guest commentary.

I have been upset about the reaction that predated President Obama's wish to communicate with school children on the first day of school. In retrospect is was much ado about nothing. The message was almost universally praised.

But this is a bigger issue than Jeff's comment that the democrats did this to George H.W. Bush and so it is only political payback.

This is so much more than what happened so long ago, because it is part of a much bigger pattern, a pattern of hate, a pattern of questioning President Obama's very legitimacy. Add this event to the birther movement, to the name calling that began with the Sara Palin rallies and continue to this day--fascism, socialism, being a nazi. Add this to the name calling before the world on the House floor when an elected representative had the temerity to call the President a lier (not just that he is wrong, but that he is a lier).

And despite the accusation that we always had a liberal press, we now have a conservative media--led by Limbaugh, Rove, Hannity, Beck, and Cheney, who have huge followings and who have no compuction to denounce the President in the most personal of tones.

What is wrong with the Conservative movement, when it is so moved by hate? What is wrong with the Republican Party? Are they so arrogant as to believe they, and only they, have the legitimate right to power?

There is now so much ugliness in the political process. There seems to be little concern with promoting the general welfare. It is so much easier to convince the gullible public with slogans than it is with reasoned ideas.

I just hope there still are some profiles in courage in our government.

Jeff Caminsky said...

Actually, Bob...I agree with most of what you said. I fear, though, that most of the "profiles in courage" we're likely to see in the halls of government are just shadows from the statutes of leaders from the past.

But I think the lack of civility has been a long time growing, and there were too few voices to denounce the screamers. As always, it's tempting to hold your tongue when it's someone from "my side" hurling insults at "the other side." Calling the President a "liar" in public is almost always a cheap shot by a politician seeking to rouse the rabble; but few liberals were trying to calm down those --- including some elected officials in Congress --- who were calling Obama's predecessor a liar once it was discovered that there were no "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq, after all.

In the end, I think we largely get the kind of government we deserve. And until the American public gets good and disgusted by what passes for modern-day political discourse (and I think that may be happening), I'm not holding my breath. The venom will continue...and people will keep talking past each other, rather than to one another.

On the other hand...I'm not so sure it's all that much worse today than in years past. I remember some of the insults and smears directed at candidates in days gone by (eg, "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa?" and assorted other favorite campaign slogans). And while things may not have gotten much better, at least we have places...like Ken's blog...where the discourse can be civil,and disagreements among friends don't degenerate into name-calling.