Free Markets, Free People


Why Obama’s Kiddie Speech Is “Creepy”

In all honesty, I don’t have a big problem with Obama’s impending speech, primarily for tactical reasons. If he gives the speech that the right is worrying about (i.e. indoctrination towards his policy preferences such as universal health care, cap and trade, etc.) then his political world will crumble. Obama is smart enough to realize this. And I, as I expect are most American parents, am vigilant enough not to let such a message get too far with my kids. However, it’s the fact that any of us have to be on guard to such a speech that makes it creepy. Well, that and the President’s track record of seeking to use children to advance his own goals.

However, there is a current of thought that thinks it’s hypocritical to challenge Obama’s address to the nation’s children while ignoring others:

All this over a video address to kids telling them to stay in school.

I’ve got to wonder how these people felt twenty years ago when a Republican did it:

President Bush pleaded with young people around the nation today to stop using drugs and ”not to look the other way” when others do.

In a 15-minute nationally televised plea from the White House library, the President presented the latest round of an anti-drug campaign that began a week ago with another nationally broadcast message announcing a $7.9 billion package.

(…)

In the speech, Mr. Bush said that saying no to drugs ”won’t make you a nerd.”

”Presidents don’t often get the chance to talk directly to students,” Mr. Bush said. ”So today, for each of you sitting in a classroom or assembly hall, this message goes straight to you.

”Most of you are doing the right thing. But for those of you who let drugs make their decisions for them, you can almost hear the doors slamming shut.”

Equating drugs with death and displaying the badge of a slain 22-year-old rookie policeman, Mr. Bush said, ”I keep this badge in a drawer in my desk to remind me of that.”

Yea, I’m guessing they were pretty quiet back then when Bush 41 was advancing his ideological agenda and fighting the War On (Some) Drugs.

While I understand Doug’s disaffection with the Republican Party and its die-hard adherents (with good reason), I really don’t understand this line of attack. Is it really the same thing for a president to encourage kids to stay off of drugs as it is for a president to encourage school children to contemplate the many ways that they can fulfill the government’s wishes?

When Bush 41 was delivering his speech to the nation’s youth, he was at least spreading a message that had individual importance. There’s no question that avoiding recreational drugs is healthy way to live one’s life. It doesn’t justify the War on (Some) Drugs, but it’s not necessarily a message advocating fealty to government authority. In fact, the quotes above speak more to individual responsibility rather than respecting the president’s wishes: i.e eschewing drugs won’t make you a nerd, don’t let drugs make your decision for you, etc.

Again, I’m not trying to condone the destructive policy pursued by the federal government with respect to certain drugs. But when a president encourages our children to stay off them, I’m hard pressed to see that as some sort of intrusion into the realm of the parent or individual, much less a blatant call for nation’s kids to ponder what it is they can do to further the president’s goals.

Therein lies the rub.

President Obama has already shown that he’s not above using children to advance his political agenda, so it’s not surprising that those opposed to his aims would be a bit skeptical of his speech. Adding to the wariness is the fact that he only seems to make these speeches when he needs help with bolstering his political capital (e.g. the “race speech” after Jeremiah Wright blew up in his face). After the battering his health care insurance reform plans took in August, it almost seems too convenient that he would suddenly want to address all the school kids in the nation, right about when he’s planning to try and save the one program he truly wants to enact.

On top of all these legitimate worries is the fact that Obama’s administration has prepared lesson plans for the kiddies to absorb in the afterglow. Surely it’s not the first time that a president has done so, but have any other post-speech plans been so blatantly pro-subservience? I mean, look at these suggested lessons:

What do you think the President wants us to do?
Does the speech make you want to do anything?
Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?

What, no questions such as “do you agree with the President’s position? Why/Why not?” Or how about, “Why should you do anything the President says?”, or “What are the pros and cons of the President’s proposals?”

Some of these wouldn’t make any sense if all Obama is going to do is encourage kids to stay in school and try theor best. But, then again, neither do the administration’s lesson plans. Nor the fact that Obama intends to do a live address rather than a taped PSA of some sort. All of which, again, provides plenty of reason to be skeptical of Obama’s speech.

In light of all the above, and regardless of whether anyone is being hypocritical or not, shouldn’t we all be a bit skeptical when the President of the United States decides to address our children when, at the same time, he is politically vulnerable and seeking some means of righting his listing ship? Maybe Republicans who are complaining now should have had more to say 20 years ago (if they were even politically aware back then), but that doesn’t mean they are wrong now. Charging hypocrisy does not negate the potential ill that may result from being less vigilant to government indoctrination. It only make that ill more possible

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18 Responses to Why Obama’s Kiddie Speech Is “Creepy”

  • “Well, that and the President’s track record of seeking to use children to advance his own goals.”

    Here is another more recent example.

  • What I love about all of this is all the back and forth “they did it back then so what’s the big deal?” between the self-appointed voices of the left and right. At what point do they all stop and say “well then, we’re all just a bunch of losers; maybe we should all grow the f*ck up.”

  • Hmm. This is actually annoying other people more than me. I mean, I think the questions are stupid because yes, obviously at no point are they asking the kids *if* they should do what he says. But, you know, presidents visit schools and stuff. So whatever.

    I guess I just *expect* ridiculous indoctrination at schools. That’s reason #87 why I homeschool. Whatever the president says is 99% likely to be less damaging than half the stuff these kids hear from their teachers. :D

  • MichaelWMaybe Republicans who are complaining now should have had more to say 20 years ago…

    I understand that you personally are not making it, but this is about the most bizarre tu quoque argument I think I’ve ever heard. So, Bush Classic asks kids to (A) avoid a self-destructive habit and (B) obey the law, and this is equivalent to TAO asking kids to “help” him???

    Once again, TAO shows what I think are totalitarian colors. Had he confined himself to merely making a pitch to school kids about the importance of education, that would be OK. But the lesson plan that the Dept. of Education prepared… Good heavens! What sort of sycophantic loser WROTE that drivel??? Cwissy Matthews???

    MichaelWWhat, no questions such as “do you agree with the President’s position? Why/Why not?” Or how about, “Why should you do anything the President says?”, or “What are the pros and cons of the President’s proposals?”

    The second question is the best of the bunch. I don’t espouse revolution or anarchy, but every American should always be suspicious of the government and remember that it serves him and his fellow citizens, NOT the other way ’round.

  • I see your point Michael and it is all about content and direction, in my humble opinion.

    Obama, is a troubling man, his constant use of the first person singular in matters of State is what makes him “creepy” to those who embrace individual freedom. However, to those who are conditioned to fear freedom, e.g. children, this creepiness can turn into visions of security, a protector, who will love and protect them while guiding them through the hazards of life. Indeed, children at an elementary level, children from single parented dwellings, or some of the older troubled children can find a “Superman” in a President who not only cares but invites them into his family, as a role player involved in a higher cause. Especially, a cause in service to the great “I am”.

    There’s a commercial often heard on the radio where a narrator is explaining, to us adults, the seemingly nonsensical talk between an obviously skilled adult authoritative figure and a very young child. The bottom line to this commercial is that the child “gets it”, even if you don’t.

  • Although I don’t have children, I’m more worried about the lessons the kids will receive from the teachers after this speech, then the speech itself.

    Will they HAVE TO join a writing campaign on one side of an issue? As has been done in the past.

    Is this just an attempt at using the children to further a political agenda?

    Seeing what this administration, it’s allies, apologists, and psycophants, are doing with other avenues of support (unions, churches, media,) this event should give everyone some pause.

    • Yeah, I’m more creeped out by the lesson plan than the idea of a speech. I too don’t understand why it’s supposed to be live, though. Surely during school hours the Prez has better things to do?

      My 11 year old wants to join the Speech and Debate club and asked me to point her toward examples of good speeches. I told her to listen to Barack Obama’s speeches, among others. My husband caught her listening and got upset, and I had to remind him that she was learning about giving good speeches, and Obama’s speeches were good, even if his policies sucked eggs.

      My daughter’s smart enough not to believe a word Obama says. I don’t know if her school is participating in this live speech, but I’m pretty sure if he tells any whoppers, she’ll set her classmates straight. If we’ve taught our children well, they’ll have learned to think critically about anything they’re told, and hearing Obama speak won’t hurt them.

  • Yeah, the attempt to use the Bush speech as a counterpoint is pretty weak. There may be other speeches or outreach programs that tried to push a ‘support big brother’ approach from Republicans, but a speech asking kids to avoid taking illegal drugs doesn’t seem to fit that mold.

    I recall that at the time, Bush was criticized for politicizing the death of a young police officer, not for any concerns over indoctrinating children or attempting to influence their political outlook.

  • When they have these discussions about politics , in school, don’t you think little John or little Jane will be afraid to correct the teacher or other classmates if they don’t agree. The adult in charge of them is telling them how much they respect Obama are they going to tell that adult they are full of it?

    Politics does not belong in classrooms short of political science or what ever in college.

  • In 1991, House Majority leader, Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.), said “The Department of Education should not be producing paid political advertising for the president, it should be helping us to produce smarter students.

  • I think perhaps a ‘scene’ description is in order for the opening of the Presidential ‘talk’.

    In a glowing, and flowing white robe, leaving only His hands and feet and messiah’s visage uncloaked, a beam of light from on high follows His every move. He enters the room, a lamb gambols at His side, a halo ringed round His head; holding His outstretched hands, many children, of all nations, flock about Him, leading Him in to bring His lesson and vision to those not fortunate enough to be blessed with His actual presence for this discussion of His views on eduction. Celestial choirs sing softly in the background. As he makes His way to the lectern the music swells to a crescendo, signaling all His word is soon to come. With a beatific smile He gazes across the audience as the music slowly fades. All is calm, the silence nearly deafening as the educational world waits for the benefit of His words. His ‘talk’ begins…

    Suggested lesson plans once the talk is completed –
    1) Discuss with each child how they can dedicate their lives to fulfilling His desires.
    2) Ask the children to write a song or prayer to Him expressing their willingness to help Him.
    3) Give each child an assignment to discuss His wishes with their parents and siblings at home.
    4) Have the children identify others who seem uncomfortable with His ideas and confide the names of those people with their teachers.

  • The real shame here is that everybody, both supporter and critics, believe in their hearts that the President of the United States will use this speech to pitch a political agenda to school children.

    Has the office been debased that much in a mere 7 months ?

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