Sunday, September 6, 2009

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid

Stupidity abounds.

The president is broadcasting a nationally televised speech on Tuesday to school children in Arlington, VA, urging children "to set goals, work hard, and stay in school." The White House is hoping that schools around the country will show the speech, and the Department of Education has prepared a "menu of classroom activities" to encourage student engagement.

That's not the stupid part. The stupid part comes in with the reactionaries getting their shorts in a bunch because they fear the president will be indoctrinating their children into socialism and recruiting them to liberal thinking.

"As the father of four children," Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer said, "I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama's socialist ideology." It is an "infuriating...invasive abuse of power."

Seriously, Mr. Greer? What part of "stay in school" and "set goals" is socialistic, I wonder?

It's remarks like that one from Republican leadership that makes me think that the party is going off its rocker. I also heard a commenter on WGN Radio (can't find a link) suggest that Obama addressing schoolchildren reminded him of how Fidel Castro indoctrinated school children when he first took power in Cuba. I guess he's forgetting that the first President Bush did the same thing in 1991; and Ronald Reagan broadcast a Q&A with high school students in 1986, according to, a political fact-checking website.

I think if President Obama said he was planning to buy his daughter a teddy bear, the Far Right would somehow connect it with socialism. If he said he was naming his new dog Clifford, they'd say, "Oooo, Clifford--the big RED dog! He's a communist!" If he said he liked to read the book before seeing the movie, they'd say, "AHA! He discriminates against film-makers!"

People like Mr. Greer should realize that it does not help their cause to make much ado about nothing. Disagree about the health care bill; argue about how to handle the war in the Middle East; criticize him for his handling of the economy with the stimulus package. But going on the attack because the President wants to encourage kids to do well in school?

It's just stupid and desperate.

UPDATE: Here is the text of the speech that President Obama will be giving tomorrow. Go ahead. Try and find something in there about socialism or promoting liberal values.


Hpaul said...

I will wait to hear the speech. But, have to tell you when I hear suggestions like 'write Obama quotes about education and put them on the walls" Although he protests, it really does seem that it is "about him"[Obama]. And the reality is, that it is not about him, or about him being black. It is about him being into BIG government.
I think, what if Bush was as self promoting as Obama? Bush would be skewered (as he was for many things) if he put himself in the forefront like Obama has. Think about it, just replace Obama with Bush...
I am just not with the focus on Obama that many have, like the pledge allegiance to Obama that included Demi Moore. That was over the top to me.
Luv ya Cuz... but I don't trust government.

E. Peevie said...

HPaul--I posted an update with a link to the speech.

I don't know what you mean by half the things you are referencing in your comment.

I think it's probably pretty difficult to not appear to be self-promoting when you're the POTUS, but I don't think that's the point of the ridiculousness about his speech to schoolchildren, anyway.

I'd want my kids to listen to a speech directed to them from any sitting president, and think about it, and talk about it. I just don't see how this is in any way a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

I was fine with the speech, but I had a problem with the lesson plan that was originally put out. Originally, the Department of Education wanted the kids to "write letters to themselves about how they could help the president" then those letters were to be redistributed at a later date, and the students would be "held accountable" for whether or not they did those things. Once the DOE changed that language, I was fine with it.
However, it was amusing to hear people hold up the first Bush's speech held up by so many Obama supporters as an example of presidents giving speeches to children. People seem to forget that after Bush gave that speech the Democratically controlled congress held hearings for weeks on whether the president misused his office.

Dave Haynes said...

That last comment was me...

E. Peevie said...

Dave--the GAO concluded that Bush had not acted improperly, which should have made Obama's speech a non-issue.

Dave Haynes said...

You are correct about the GAO, and that the speech itself should have been a non-issue. But only insofar as people remember history. When I made the same statements to people about Bush's speech no one remembered the uproar and the hearings. No one said "hey we already had hearings about this and it's ok." I don't care about the speech, per se, I just have a problem with giving kids the idea that they serve the president, any president. The original lesson plan and the creepy I Pledge video worry me a little.

E. Peevie said...

Your link to the video is bad, Dave. But yes, I think I agree with you (and HPaul) that there were some dumb things in the "lesson plans" as originally crafted.

I don't think they're nefarious, just misguided.

And you're right, technically, about "serving the president." I think what they were getting at was trying to nurture engagement in the political process--but the word choice was unfortunate.

I think Obama's team would be really smart to get some die-hard Republicans to read through their materials before hitting "send"--just to gauge the reaction from non-worshippers. Then they can change them, or not--but they would at least have an idea of what kind of objections the materials would raise.

Boy George said...

E., your last point above was excellent.

I think one problem with the Obama administration is that they aren't too very coordinated. There needs to be more communication between entities within the administration itself. (While the lack of goose-stepping after the Bush administration is refreshing, it's possible to become too lax...)