Let Them Eat Soup
"Books Invite All: They Constrain None"

Among School Children

Obama Question Othority

The President is scheduled to address America's public school students on Tuesday, in advance of his Big Health Care Speech to a joint session of the Student Council Congress on Wednesday.  The former has turned into an overblown kerfuffle in which opponents of the administration, unfortunately and most loudly including the zany-maniac crowd of which I was complaining just the other day, shout that the speech is a sinister exercise in political indoctrination -- in which argument they were aided by the fabulously tin-eared lesson plan initially circulated by the Department of Education, since sheepishly withdrawn, urging students to reflect upon how they can "help the President."  

The prepared text has been released now and it is, as expected, not a sinister exercise in indoctrination.  It is aggravating all the same, even though it delivers little more than the standard time-worn and unobjectionable message that can be paraphrased as: 

"Kids, you ought to stay in [public] school and work hard to advance yourselves, and you'll thank me for telling you so someday."

This is another in the decades-long line of Presidential pronouncements raising the nagging question of why this President, or any other President, should get the idea that the job of being President necessarily includes taking time away from the work of actual governance for the sake of saying to students what is already being said, every blessed day, by a squizillion other blessed adults who are neither more nor less credible on the subject than is the aforementioned blessed President or any other President who has been or ever shall be.  The proper ground for objection to this sort of thing is not the risk that the young people will be led down the primrose path to Communism, but that these sorts of helpful lectures by public figures high and low rarely amount to anything more than displays of self-importance and sentimental tommyrot. 

When I went to the White House site this morning to look for the text of the speech, I was again astounded by the extent to which the Executive Branch has become one enormous advertising agency.  The Media Resources page relating to the speech, for example, features not only links to the hastily re-drawn "classroom engagement resources" but also embeddable banner ads to include on your blog or website (in the unlikely event your readers include K-12 public school students) and even a "coming attractions" video in which the President's message -- "Kids, you ought to stay in school and work hard to advance yourselves, and you'll thank me for telling you so someday." -- is pre-delivered for him by a collection of NASCAR drivers:
 

Though the NASCAR drivers don't go so far as the President does in laying a "don't let us down" guilt trip on the kids, this is still self-important, sentimental tommyrot.  On your nickel, too, and mine, since the care and feeding of the White House media apparatus is a taxpayer responsibility.  

Can we possibly arrange the appointment of a Healthy Skepticism Czar to teach the kids to test and to question most anything they hear from those who come clothed with authority of any stripe?  

Think for yourselves, kids, think for yourselves.

P.S., Your country is counting on you.

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Illustration: Custom Obamicon by the author.

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Comments

Lisa

Students should be able to listen to the President's speech

Rima

I think this kind of thing harkens back to the day when our President was a role model, not a punching bag for both sides of the aisle.

I do think THIS president is an important role model for at least part of our population, who have rarely seen someone at that level who looked remotely like them, and even pretended to give a rat's ass about them. No small thing.

LOVE your blog! MOST entertaining... Seriously.

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