Monday, September 7, 2009

The "Socialist" President Tells Kids to Stay in School -- Just Like Other Presidents Before Him

I doubt that many of the people seen at rallies wailing about President Obama being a "socialist" even have a working definition of the word (or perhaps even the ability to spell it). Holding aside that gratuitous insult based on reality, their recent panic attack over Obama's fictional effort to bring his nonexistent socialist/fascist/radical/Nazist message to school children was exposed as (yet another) disparate reaction to Obama (as compared to other presidents).

Obama Leads to Panic Attack, But Other Presidents Did Not
The White House released a document which shows that several other presidents have delivered "back-to-school" speeches to students, without causing a severe clinically paranoid reaction among either the Right or Left. The document shows that George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan addressed school children in order to inspire academic achievement. I suppose it's one of those cheesy things that presidents do.

"First Ladies" have done this as well. Laura Bush, for example, had a literacy campaign for kids, and Nancy Reagan went around telling kids about the perils of drug use. Hillary Clinton said she was not going to sit around baking cookies, and conservatives treated the comment as treasonous behavior. I guess people expect "ladies" to nurture kids and give them warm cookies. When a man does it, perhaps he's up to something. Well, apparently, just some men.....

Content of Speech Also Released; Makes Critics Look Looney
The White House also released the content of the speech. Reading it makes the critics look "looney" (for lack of a nicer -- yet accurate -- word). Here is some of the socialist propaganda Obama is communicating to students:

[A]t the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed. . . .

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

Isn't this exactly the stuff that conservatives say they want (poor) kids to hear? I certainly wish that I had heard this type of message from an authority figure when I was in school. And I am sure that some other kids from low-income backgrounds like myself will find inspiration in Obama's words. So: Let this go, people. An apology would be nice as well. But I will settle for a simple "We were wrong."


Annie said...

Yes but it wasn't just the speech that started the upsettedness surrounding the speech. It was the pre-speech itinerary in general,

and specifically some, inartful at best, language; some of which was removed. And that memo, coming from a guy who clearly runs wholly on propaganda, same guy who okay'd THIS website,

could make just about anyone a little more than wary. And seeing how many surprises us stupidly bitter gun clinging folks Obama has so carefully referred to us as, it's no wonder people don't trust him to teach their kids.

Having read tmrw's speech, i think it's great, but whoever Obama has writing memo's to schools asking students what they can do for obama, need to grow the hell up, which says a lot about the man who is supposed to be running the show.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

The fact is: No one even knows what was in the content of other presidents' speeches to children -- and probably did not even realize that they even spoke to kids.

Also, as an educator, I can definitely say with certainty that seeing a question in a lesson plan divorced from the content of the lecture tells you very little (if anything). So, the "offending" question said "What can you do to help the president"? An absolutely appropriate answer (given the topic of the actual -- rather than imagined speech) could be: I will help the president by staying in school, obeying my teachers and parents, and trying my best to learn. Is that really the advent of fascism? Not at all. People who are predisposed to believing that Obama is not a US citizen and that he is a socialist (who, remarkably, gives trillions of dollars to banks and automakers) are simply looking for potentially bad things to amplify and condemn.

Also, I thought the "bitter" comment was ridiculous, but that does not mean that he is a menace to society. Bush led thousands to their deaths unnecessarily, but I am pretty certain that the same people who prepared for Armageddon over Obama's speech to kids would happily welcome Dubya in the classroom. Why is he trustworhty around kids, but Obama is not?

Also, why did people believe his speech would be anything other than a typical feel-good formal statement by a head of state? Finally, given the way that many of his critics have blatantly (and proudly) lied ("death panels," "socialized medicine," etc.), they really don't have standing to complain about not being able to "trust" others.

Anonymous said...

Nice job, Prof. Darren. :)

But I hope you're not holding your breath waiting for "We were wrong." It is more reasonable to expect a flock of flying pigs, IM(cynical)O.

I do have a question, though: If an insult is based on reality, is it still an insult? (Or gratuitous, for that matter?)

It does not seem to me that your opinion above is either -- you are stating the obvious. If asked what socialism is, I'd bet the majority of folks who scream their heads off against it (and against the "socialist" Obama) would at best come up with some garbled bits of wingnut propaganda, combining Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and perhaps Pol Pot for good measure, plus a horde of lazy bums who their hard-worked for money would come to support if the "socialist" Obama had his way with us.

So, IMO, it's neither gratuitous, nor an insult to tell it like it is (but then you are much nicer and diplomatic person than I am :).

Anonymous said...

Should have written:

you are a much nicer and more diplomatic person than I am.

Your English is better, too.

Anonymous said...

BTW, listen to this:

(...) our modern age presents vast challenges to children, and they need to learn lessons quickly in order to prosper. And who better to teach them than the President of the United States?

Those words were written by the old commie, Bill O'Reilly, in an article,

What President Obama Can Teach America's Kids

published just last month.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Annie: Another point -- the Website you linked ( is not "ok'd" by Obama! That is non-candidate website. It clearly states this on the homepage. Again, this is more MISINFORMATION. Undoubtedly, this is probably viral among conservative webpages. But the fact that something is popular does not mean it is true!

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Elizabeth: THANKS! People are so pathetic. Consistency is irrelevant.

barkerc said...

The fact that the "What can I do to help the president?" question was removed either means that "they were right", or the Obama team has no backbone and will give in even when they did nothing wrong. Either way, no one should hold their breath for an apology--removing the question made those complaining feel that they were justified, not that they were wrong.

Sue said...

I agree with barkerc, dems seem to cave in way to much, yup no backbone! They need to stand up to the ridiculous rants from the right, NO WAY should they think they are right in their obvious stupid arguments! I wonder if they know this and they are just laughing at the pussy left??

repsac3 said...

Because the education folks in the White House left it vague enough to be misinterpreted, that line about "helping the president" in the suggested post-speech activities had to go. (While the more nutty argument obviously could be made, all the folks I know read that line in the context of the whole event, as being about helping the president achieve the goals he was to set out in the speech (which were goals for the kids, not partisan political goals for Obama or for the Democratic Party.)

While I guess it's threatening to conservatives, I have no objection to kids reading books about the presidency or about this or any other president. I also don't object to kids knowing what the current president has said about education in previous speeches. (The whole "put up quotes" issue.) I believe it's important to know what one's president is saying about issues important to you, and the whole point of the thing is to say that education should be important to kids. Besides, conservatives probably quote Obama more often than liberals do in the first place, so it's a little odd that they wouldn't want their kids to be at least as informed as they themselves are. And, there's no saying that a class has to stop there... Rather than whining about Obama quotes, how about suggesting quotes about education from past presidents and other elected officials, past and present, &/or entertainment & sports figures that kids look up to? Rather arguing against the Obama quotes (& the Obama speech, and all else Obama), in effect giving the kids less information and inspiration, why not expand on the idea, and give them more?

I don't recall what other things conservatives were up in arms about as far as the suggested pre- & post- speech activities were concerned, but it would probably help to remember that they are just suggestions. No one passed a statute saying that any school MUST follow any of the suggestions, either as written, or at all.

Contrary to the claims of some on the right who I suspect began to realize how foolish they looked, some of the argument has been about the speech itself. There were scary theories about what he was going to say, & questions about the propriety or need for him to be doing this at all ("aren't there IMPORTANT things he should be doing?" as though the education of kids isn't all that big a deal). Sorry, Malkintents, but for many of your contemporaries, this wasn't just about the "subtext," whatever that was supposed to mean.

You don't have to like or agree with the guy, but he is the president, and like all the presidents before him, he should be afforded the respect that comes with the office. Yes, a good deal of what libs had to say about Bush & other presidents on the right was over the top as well, including those times when they whined about similar speeches to kids about the importance of education by presidents from the other major party. But if it was wrong then, it's wrong now, too. Like it or not, he's going to toss out first pitches and attend ceremonial events, just like those who came before him. And just like them, he's going to encourage kids to work toward getting the best education they can, along with whatever other "bully pulpit" &/or "inspirational" type speeches he feels are necessary. That's what presidents--all presidents--do.

It's fine to criticize, but it helps if you're reasonable about it, and wait until the remarks or whatever have been published, rather than launching into "preemptive fear of the unknown" mode before there's actually anything to criticize. That's the kinda thing that just makes you look unhinged...

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Repsac3: Great response! I am trying to understand a principled explanation for all of the hatred. I have heard several attempts, but these are so devoid of merit that they seem like pretextual arguments for some unprincipled explanation (like pure partisanship, etc.).

They harangue him for "increasing the deficit," but most of these people did not make nearly as much noise about Bush. Also, BUSH advocated the bailout and authorized a portion of it to bailout auto companies. He also advocated a couple of stimulus packages during his presidency. And his monetary policy was responsible for the "free money" that contributed to the housing bubble that landed us in this mess. Also, on top of all of this, he drastically increased spending while cutting taxes. That is a recipe for disaster - which is what we now have. Yet, given the size of their marches and the volume of their protests, you would think Obama inherited and squandered a budget surplus.

I have also heard many of the anti-Obama crowd argue that he has taken away "our" rights. But this is a preposterous argument. I have not seen one right infringed by the president. Presumably, if this were the case, people would be suing. The only people who have a valid complaint about the Obama administration are the same folks who had a complaint against the Bush administration: terrorism suspects. But the anti-Obama crowd loves the liberty-restricting anti-terrorism policies of Bush/Obama. Therefore, it seems ironic that they are complaining so loudly about the (nonexistent) infringement of rights.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Bakerc: Obama removed the question for the same reason he had beer with Gates and the cop: He hates controversy. Conservatives know that their screeching caused this to happen. Ultimately, there was nothing legitimate about their screeching.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Sue: I agree that Obama "caved"; I do not believe this implies that the right was right.

Sue said...

Of course the right wasn't right, but they believe their screaming caused the changes to occur, just like their screaming was the reason Van Jones resigned, Their self-righteous smugness makes my skin crawl!!

Annie said...

The kids for obama was obama's campaign's site. After the general it became ofa, which now has the disclaimer.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Annie: You're going to have to come up with some proof of that. The website itself disclaims any association with Obama or any candidate. Also, I did a google search for "kids for obama," and there are tons of sites. Each one that I checked, however, was not not connected to the campaign. If you can provide a link showing official sponsorship by the Obama campaign of any of the numerous kids for Obama groups, please do so. This sounds like "death panels" and "weapons of mass destruction."

Annie said...

The reason the website now has a disclaimer is that it was taken over by OFA. was obama's campaign website. That link was taken directly from barack obama's campaign site during the primary election. Deathpanels? A bit of a reach. You may support the man, but not everything he does is okay, or not his fault and not every criticism is someone out to misinform. Type in, his former campaign website, and it now leads to OFA, that disclaimer is new because his campaign is no longer responsible for the site. But clearly the kids for obama is from the election and not new.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

You assume that I "support the man."

Annie said...

Lol. Anyone who defends The Precious' disgusting kids for obama site sounds like a suppoerter to me. Even to go so far as to say people who bring it up are going the death panel route? Spreading "MISINFORMATION" about the o-holy one? Lol. I was beginning to thinks DU'ers had found a new home.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

I did not defend any website for Obama. Instead, I said that you have not shown that it was linked to the Obama campaign -- and you still have not done so.

Also, although seem to be enjoying your fictional victory against an Obama worshipper, if you actually took the time to read some of my articles, rather than equating your assumptions with reality, you would get a different assessment. Start here: RUN: FACTS!

repsac3 said...

Man, if you're not a partisan idealogue, then I'm just going to have to go somewhere else for my socialist indoctrination. (That schoolkid stuff Chairman Obama used yesterday was far too tame for the likes o' me.)

How dare you apply the same standards to both the left and the right, and be able to prove it, on demand. Haven't you *read* other blogs?

Because, judging by most of 'em, you're doing it wrong...

Keep screwing up, sir. (But maybe not so often or so well... You're makin' the rest of us look bad.)

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

It's not true that there was no outcry when other Presidents spoke to schools.
When Bush1 did it, the Democrats actually squawked pretty loudly- so loudly, they held hearings on it.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Repsac3: LOL. Some conservatives said I was wrong for making the list in response to their repeated assertions that I have never criticized liberals.

Headmistress: Thanks for posting the link. I would say to those people: BAD. I would also say that the reactions were certainly incongruent. It is one thing to say "keep the nasty socialist away from our children" (while making up things that he was supposedly saying) versus investigating the cost of the visit. I would actually welcome an examination of the cost of Obama's speech, but that's not what happened. In any event, it Democrats engaged in partisan games over an innocent Bush speech to kids -- shame on them!

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