Ever since Barack Obama was elected president, conservatives have been crying and bellyaching over one thing or another. I guess that’s normal in a two-party system. Democrats complained a lot when George W. Bush was president. But then so did many Republicans. After all, Bush was a blithering idiot.
Obama is an intellectual and is very charismatic. Outwardly, he is a lot more like Ronald Reagan, although with much different policies. But regardless of his charisma, or maybe partly because of it, reactionaries are faulting him for everything from the economy to the swine flu.
But over the past week, a new controversy has arisen. As off the wall and silly as some of his detractors have been up until now, this latest controversy has to be one of the most outlandish non-issues ever brought up in the name of partisan politics.
The president wants to speak to schoolchildren at a time when they have started classes again following their summer break. He wants to tell them that education is important to their future and to tell them it would be best for them to stay in school and try hard. He wants to tell them that it is possible to rise above hardship as he did to become whatever they want to be.
It is not the first time a president has addressed an audience of schoolchildren. Ronald Reagan did it. He talked about taxes for whatever reason. George H.W. Bush did it, too. And as we all know, George W. Bush was reading to kindergarteners at the moment of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. After being told of the attack, he just continued to read.
But now, Obama’s plan to speak to the kiddies has drawn fire from the conservatives who claim he only wants to indoctrinate them into some socialist agenda. Normally, such far-right propaganda would be ignored by all except their own kind. But for a reason that is beyond my comprehension, the extreme right seems to have the ear of the moderate audience these days.
The moderates have started to believe the wing nuts on the right when they make far-fetched claims about Obama’s health care plan or his economic recovery plan. And now, the claim that Obama is trying to brainwash the nation’s children and turn them into socialists or communists has gone viral.
Parents are threatening to keep their kids home on Tuesday after Labor Day instead of sending them to school to listen to their president tell them to get a good education. Even some school administrators have said they would screen, delay, or even edit the broadcast.
This is craziness gone amok. Who would have believed that a simple address by the president directed at school kids and on the topic of getting a better education would be the target of so much controversy? Some have said the speech comes with lesson plans. Well, so what? It’s a speech about education. Lesson plans seems like a logical inclusion. Teachers are not under any obligation to actually use them. But providing supplemental materials is a good idea.
Whether you agree with the president’s policies or not, whether you like Obama as a person or not, doesn’t change the fact that he is the elected president of this country, and as such, he has every right to address whatever audience he chooses. He did not obtain his position as leader of the free world through a coup. He was duly elected to the office by a popular majority and a sizeable electoral majority, larger than either of George W. Bush’s margins. In fact, Bush lost the popular vote in 2000.
It is a fact, not an opinion, that conservatives tend to have less formal education than those on the progressive end of the political spectrum. And it is these same conservatives who want to keep their kids out of school so they won’t be exposed to a speech by their duly-elected leader. Could it be that conservatives are afraid that if their kids listen to Obama, stay in school, and become more educated than their parents, that they will jump ship and become Democrats?
It sounds logical, which is probably why it isn’t true. After all, a logical conservative is an oxymoron. Most of the far-right nut jobs wouldn’t know logic if it crawled up their pant legs and bit them in the ass.