Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 4, 2009

IT'S COME TO THIS.... In 1988, then-President Reagan spoke to students nationwide via C-SPAN telecast. Among other things, he talked about his positions on political issues of the day. Three years later, then-President Bush addressed school kids in a speech broadcast live to school classrooms nationwide. Among other things, he promoted his own administration's education policies.

President Obama wants to deliver a message to students next week emphasizing hard work, encouraging young people to do their best in school. The temper tantrum the right is throwing in response only helps reinforce how far gone 21st-century conservatives really are.

This is no small, isolated fit, thrown by random nutjobs. The New York Times, Washington Post,LA Times, AP, and others all ran stories this morning about the coordinated national effort to either keep children at home so they can't hear their president's pro-education message, or demanding that local schools block the message altogether.

A Republican state lawmaker in Oklahoma said, "As far as I am concerned, this is not civics education -- it gives the appearance of creating a cult of personality. This is something you'd expect to see in North Korea or in Saddam Hussein's Iraq." Fox News personalities have adopted the same line, calling a stay-in-school message from the president "cultist" and reminiscent of "North Korea and the former Soviet Union."

I can appreciate there's a question of whether the Department of Education erred in the wording of one sentence in the supplementary materials. It's reasonable to think officials should have been more cautious.

But that's not what this is about. The administration not only edited the supplementary materials, but has offered to make the text of the address available in advance, just so everyone can see how innocuous it is. It's made no difference. Conservatives don't want school kids to hear a message from their president. Those who claim superiority on American patriotism have decided to throw yet another tantrum over the idea that the president of the United States might encourage young people to do well in schools.

This is what American politics has come to in 2009.

Michelle Cottle had a good item on this, calling conservatives' behavior "disgraceful."

...Obama is the leader of this entire nation. It doesn't matter if you voted for him -- or even if your head threatens to explode every time you think about him. He is the president, and, as such, it's a big deal that he's speaking directly to students about the importance of education. (Not teachers unions, you hysterics.) And, whatever one's party registration, the idea that any child should be kept home from class purely so their parents can make a political statement about an apolitical speech is appalling. Is the idea that we should shelter children from any contact with or knowledge of any president we personally dislike? Maybe, during the years our preferred party is out of power, we should just pretend that the president doesn't exist. That's a healthy way to run a democracy.

Admittedly, Obama is smooth. But he ain't smooth enough to wipe away an entire childhood of conservative teachings with one quickie speech about (all together now!) working hard in school. Buck up, all you deep-red wingers: Make the kids watch Glenn Beck afterward if it eases your anxiety. Have them genuflect before a poster of Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter. But don't be so paranoid about what might happen if they're briefly exposed to the sinister charms of a liberal president that you drag them down into your foxhole of craziness.

Even Joe Scarborough asked, "Where are all the GOP leaders speaking out against this kind of hysteria?" They are, alas, nowhere to be found. As John Cole explained, "The entire party has been taken over by crazy people."

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (105)

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Idiocracy ...The documentary

Posted by: John R on September 4, 2009 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry
Weakness and indecision brings out this kind of response
Maybe it would have happened anyway
The right has become insidious

But, Barack Obama has shown that he can be rolled
It started with Economic Recovery where he gave away the family cow for 3 Republican Senators

It continues with his pathetic performance on health care

Obama can be rolled

Let's NOT FORGET the town halls
Not one peep, Obama ?
The Secret Service should have wrestled those gun carrying BOZOs to the ground and arrested them
(hopefully, roughing them up in the process)

If you show weakness, the jackals will attack
Obama reaks of weakness

Posted by: MSierra, SF on September 4, 2009 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

I see Kwazy people , Walking around like regular people . They don't see each other . They only see what they want to see . They don't know they're Kwazy . Kwazy people ...
See the film !

Posted by: FRP on September 4, 2009 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

The FEAR exhibited by the bigots and racists that CHILDREN may actually like this black man who is THE PRESIDENT is palpable! This is beyond CRAZY...and then there is Chris Matthews telling Jim Greer (RPOF) that he is a "reasonable man" and saying OK in the background when this piece of excrement continues the "can't let Obama talk about his government takeover" of our country in a talk with children! It's obvious, that once again, Matthews has done NO RESEARCH on the issue before doing what he laughingly calls "interviews"...let's say Chris Wallace type stroking of guests who barely deserve the respect of civil conversation...Not as surprising that newspapers and other media outlets are REPORTING on this - it's a story for God's sake and like all ambulance chasers that's just what they do...it's HOW they do it that should be the issue...the people out there making a fuss about the president's talking with CHILDREN should be laughed out of this country!!!

Posted by: Dancer on September 4, 2009 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

These loving parents are scared to death of losing their kids to rational thought. What is the use of having a brat if they won't parrot your every 'idea'? This is America, you know.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on September 4, 2009 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe that crazy Russian guy predicting the break-up of the US in the near future wasn't so crazy after all?

I don't know, but a significant segment among the Republicans, including some Reps and Senators, sure doesn't seem to mind.

Posted by: SRW1 on September 4, 2009 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

These parents have been telling their kids how evil President Obama is, and they're now afraid if their kids actually get to hear him talking, the kids will realize their parents have been lying.

Posted by: RichH on September 4, 2009 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

Someone commented yesterday, and I quite agree, that a Republican needs to go on right after the president and he should admonish all children of certain demographics to quit school and get ready to mow his lawn.

Posted by: chrenson on September 4, 2009 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

"Those who claim superiority on American patriotism..."

We republicans do not 'claim' superiority on American patriotism, we ARE superior on American patriotism. I personnally know that my patriotism is superior. I have 3 Chinese made 'Support Our Troops' bumper stickers on each of my SUVs!

We republicans do not 'claim' moral superiority, we ARE morally superior. Everyone knows that the democrat party is the party of abortion, gays, and anti-christian beliefs. Everyone knows that Gov. Sanford, Sen. Ensign, and Sen. Vitter were led from the path of righteousness by democrats, yet were able to return to republican moral superiority.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on September 4, 2009 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

This Labor Day, Democrats, bloggers, and TV peronalities should hold a funeral for the once great Republican party.

From this point on, we should all pledge that we will only cover disagreements between the only valid two parties in America - the ConservaDems and the ProgressiveDems.

Posted by: Ohioan on September 4, 2009 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

The best thing to do would be to just laugh them out of town (if it weren't so serious.)

Posted by: Miss on September 4, 2009 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

The current image of America, the greatest democracy on the face of the planet?

A strong burly white man shouting down a woman in a wheelchair in a "town-hall meeting!" The ignorant have been massaged, and we have people who would stand to lose defending the system that does indeed see them as losers!

Above someone offered a funeral for the Republican party. I say times are so dangerous, we may be attending a funeral for the very basic elements of our nation's democracy - civil discourse, reasoned arguments, and recognition of election results.

We are among sad days in our country! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on September 4, 2009 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

Where can I buy me one of those Obama filters?

Have to say once again, there is marketing behind this madness. The big interests are drawing this partisan boundary and creating enemies where none should occur. Part of it is the hate engendered in the threat of tax increases on the rich, just as happened when Clinton increased the tax rates on the wealthy. And a major part of it now is threatening big pharma, big insurance, and big medicine that they are taking way too big a chunk of a shrinking pie. Unfortunately, they are good at churning up enemies to unite the common man with their own selfish interests. We should resist taking the bait. We are all reacting badly.

Posted by: lou on September 4, 2009 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Msierra is an idiot. These racists are against having their kids hear the President tell them to stay in school not because he pursues peaceful negotiations too often but because their fucking racists. They don't want to have the little racists their raising question what they have been feeding them about minorities when they listen to an a black president tell them that education is important.

Posted by: Jay on September 4, 2009 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

"This Labor Day, Democrats, bloggers, and TV peronalities should hold a funeral for the once great Republican party."
Then we need to pick a day for marking the death of the Democratic Party as well. Since they lose on every issue to a minority "dead" party, they must be dead, too.

Posted by: howie on September 4, 2009 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

So it's come down to this:

Liberals are upset that some parents don't want their children to be subjected to the "it takes a village" speech that President Obama next week, right?

Sure, the official spin is that it will be a speech that will emphasize academic excellence, hard work, and responsibility. Riiiight. You socialists can swallow that nice bit of propaganda all you want and run with it. Like that's your journey, man. The rest of us who are not part of the Leftist Borg Collective and who can think for ourselves are not so easily seduced with PR misdirection and guile.

Ultimately, the ones responsible for whatever guidance or values children receive are the parents themselves, and it's offensive to push this "Dear Leader" totalitarian nonsense on everyone. Dial back the Marxism, please.

Posted by: Urban Matrix on September 4, 2009 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

the republicans have always been at total war against a democratic administration. ever since nixon the crook was investigated -- bring ing shame on the whole republican party. they have always "gone to the mattresses -- ever since.

it has just gotten progressively worse (or"insane" as decent people would want to categorize it -- disease rather than ethical hideousness -- after all, they went after, and got, clinton by the balls.

and now they are after obama's admin. in a total war and will use every weapon they have.

(i'd say the repukes are just the tool of corporate america -- which finds the accommodations for their blood-sucking, market worshipping. life-destroying, earth-destroying ways much much more pleasant when repukes rule, but then i'd just be i'm some wacky conspiratorialist of some kind.)

Posted by: neill on September 4, 2009 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

Although this episode is disgraceful, as these kids grow up, many will see and challenge their parents' shielding them from the president.

This is why liberalism will (slowly) prevail - the children of conservatives react against their parents.

Posted by: hortron on September 4, 2009 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

Urban Matrix

My god, your comedy trolling is great. more please.

Posted by: about time on September 4, 2009 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Just another battlefield of the Cold Civil War you're in.

There's only one way of ending it: Decent America has to show up in millions and tell the crazies that they are nothing but a bunch of people off their meds.

But this won't happen. The right-wing already has whipped Joe Normal into fear. That's what they are really good at.

So the last hope is on people like Joe Scarborough: conservatives who aren't willing to be run over by the fringe. Conservatives who still have a sense for decency and are fighting for a center-right party, where reason still has a place. Where are they?

If Joe Scarborough is your last hope, you're in deep trouble...

Posted by: Vokoban on September 4, 2009 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

Funny, how the followers of other strips can herd under their banners and accuse everyone else of following the doctrines of marxism, socialism and nazism. To be blind to one's own tendency to follow vs. having an independent worldview is a hallmark of the true "patriot".

Posted by: lou on September 4, 2009 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not really a big fan of the "Great Leader" style of presidential authority, but it's rich that the creators of the man-god Reagan and the War-President Bush are suddenly aghast at the idea of a presidential personality cult.

Posted by: charles on September 4, 2009 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

"... it's offensive to push this "Dear Leader" totalitarian nonsense on everyone. Dial back the Marxism, please." - Urban Matrix

Guess we now have to conclude that you have officially gone off the rocker.

And you sounded so sophisticated last time when you were so valiantly defending Mrs 'White Hope' Jenkins, with your knowledge of French and all that.

Posted by: SRW1 on September 4, 2009 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Brilliant! What better way to guarantee every kid in America streams it two or three times and hangs on every word!

Posted by: Checkmate! on September 4, 2009 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, where ARE the millions of Americans who voted in Obama last year? And, where ARE the Democratic senators and congressmen speaking out about the Republican lunacies?

Come on. The "accepted" form of the Democratic Party is to turn the other cheek, not defend ourselves. Kerry in 2004 shows how well THAT worked. We must stop that - we must speak out and support Obama. Enough of sitting around and letting the other party "hang itself". This whole news cycle has moved on with the Democrats sitting on their asses and letting Republican loonies control the message.

We did pretty well last year in getting our message out and having the voters accept it. Why has the party and its leaders gone mute?

As you can tell, I am quite frustrated.

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on September 4, 2009 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Your morning aphorism

"Calling socialism" is the last refuge of the bigot.

Posted by: koreyel on September 4, 2009 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

This is just another step in the Right's path toward de-legitimizing President Obama.

President Obama.

They cannot stand those two words. While it's tempting--and arguably true--to think that this hatred is due to race, we can't forget that the Right would undoubtedly try to do this kind of disgusting, unpatriotic thing to any Democrat who holds the office, just because he/she's a Democrat.

Again, most of those who populate these boards detested President Bush. But we remained--with a few, minor exceptions--civil, and certainly did not do even 5% of what the Right has done so far in the scant 6 months that Obama has been in office. Who are the real patriots? Those who accept the President even when he/she is detested, or those who seek to de-legitimize anyone they didn't support?

Posted by: terraformer on September 4, 2009 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

My hunch is that the people leading and participating in this revolt are not radical right wing capitalists, concerned about Obama's Socialist agenda. It's simpler than that - they're racists. I'd wager that most of the people who pull their kids out of school today, when you scratch under the surface patina of right-wing outrage over "leftist" policies, simply do not like black people (or any people other than white people, for that matter.). It has very little to do with the Obama's policies, whcih are by and large quite centrist.

They cannot publicly decry on the horrors of a black president, so they have subverted the argument into unsubstantiated cries against "socialism."

Posted by: JG71 on September 4, 2009 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone see the back-to-school PSA video at whitehouse.gov with the NASCAR drivers?

It's also on YouTube right now.

Interesting that they picked representatives from a sport considered dear to many in the RNC's base.

Next up, I suggest a PSA with the head football coaches from the SEC and Big XII conferences.

Posted by: 2Manchu on September 4, 2009 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think is so odd, really. Americans do not all share the same values, and the idea that the president can say anything that is not political or ideological is a myth. I don't like the idea of any Republican politician talking to impressionable kids, and I don't have trouble understanding why a bunch of right-wing wackos wouldn't want an authority figure exposing their kids to ideas they reject.

The difference, of course, is that conservatives are wrong about everything, and their kids can only benefit from hearing about other ways of thinking. But I don't agree that it's simply nuts to not want the president talking to your kid when the president represents the other side.

Posted by: Mark on September 4, 2009 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

Did you know we have a scary black man in the white house? I don't recognize this Country.

Posted by: Scott F. on September 4, 2009 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

As a republican, I take great umbrage at the denigration of our greatest ever president by Charles. His insults of Ronald Reagan are unforgivable.

Ronald Reagan recognized the need to stimulate our economy by cutting taxes on those who actually create jobs. Unfortunately, it has been the failure of presidents since then to not recognize that we have not reduced taxes enough on our job creators. Trickle down economics would succeed if we cut taxes enough on the wealthiest 0.1% who actually create jobs.

Ronald Reagan recognized the problems with Social Security and with the help of Alan Greenspan raised taxes on the working class to provide funding into the future. It has been the failure of presidents since then to realize that Social Security just needs higher ages before the parasites can draw upon it and higher taxes on those making under $100,000 a year to keep it solvent.

Ronald Reagan recognized that government is the problem and not the solution. It has been the failure of following presidents to fail to recognize that the only role of government is to transfer monies to corporate entities and through them to those who actually create jobs in our country.

Ronald Reagan recognized that health care and education are among the many areas in which the federal government should not be involved. It has been the failure presidents since to not acknowledge that if God wanted people to have education and health care, he would have born them to wealthy families.

It is only the natural modesty of republicans that prevents us from comparing Ronald Reagan to Jesus.

Since Ronald Reagan left the presidency, the only ones who have gotten things correct are those who preach prosperity gospel. They know that the correct teaching of the parable of Jesus is that "It is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a poor man to go to heaven".

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on September 4, 2009 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

I read in those articles that some parents are keeping their children home so they can watch the president. It's beginning to sound as if we want another day for the Labor Day holiday, perhaps to attend a Fox-promoted/ corporate-sponsored rally.

Posted by: Bob Johnson on September 4, 2009 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not really a big fan of the "Great Leader" style of presidential authority, but it's rich that the creators of the man-god Reagan and the War-President Bush are suddenly aghast at the idea of a presidential personality cult.

"How did all of us good God-fearing white Christians end up with a black Muslim for a king?"

Posted by: dr sardonicus on September 4, 2009 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Anybody know if Urban Matrix is a parody or serious? I can't tell.

Posted by: ckelly on September 4, 2009 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

This is why Im not particularly concerned about the long term prospects of the Democratic party. Republicans are already, on the whole, tremendously stupid. Please, please, please keep your kids out of school. I hope Obama will give a speech like this every day if it means the children of Republicans will stay home from school. In 10-20 years, half of the Republican base will be too paranoid to leave their home on election day, and the other half will be too stupid to know how to use the machine.

Posted by: Seitz on September 4, 2009 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe Obama can compromise with them and come up with some sort of trigger that would allow him speak to school children about the benefits of education.

Posted by: doubtful on September 4, 2009 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

SRW1 said:

Guess we now have to conclude that you have officially gone off the rocker.

That's funny. I've already been told something similar in that previous thread you mentioned, the one in which you admired mes mots Franais. I've also been called stupid, lame, idiotic... you get the picture.

The conclusion is obvious. My words have struck home and the painful truth is intolerable. So instead of debating my argument on its merits, you and your fellow leftist travelers fall back on knee-jerk ad hominems that require little in the way of critical thought or analysis.

Color me unsurprised.

Meanwhile, the head-nodding approval for the President's "youth corps" message next week is par for the course among members of the Leftist Borg Collective. I wouldn't have expected anything different. You also shouldn't expect those who are not members of said collective to approve or to wish to have their children exposed to "Dear Leader" socialist propaganda.

Thank you.

~Urban Matrix

Posted by: Matrice Urbaine on September 4, 2009 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

If Cheney were to defend torture to schoolchildren, they would be all for it.

Posted by: Bob M on September 4, 2009 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

People were a lot less worried in those earlier times and the "sentence" that was taken out of the speech, namely "send Obama letters about how to help him," set off alarm bells. For a guy who did a great job as a campaigner, he sure is tone deaf. I would read Charlie Cook's column about independents, if I were you.

Posted by: Mike K on September 4, 2009 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

People were a lot less worried in those earlier times and the "sentence" that was taken out of the speech, namely "send Obama letters about how to help him," set off alarm bells.

If Obama so much as uses a preposition it sets off "alarm bells" for you jackasses.
People were less worried in those "earlier times"? You mean during the cold war or after terrorist attacks? No, they were just as worried, if not more.
Now what's the one thing that's different regarding our president now?

Posted by: Allan Snyder on September 4, 2009 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Kind of funny actually, Obama is speaking about "Stay in school", and what is his opposition doing?

Pulling their kids out of school.

Maybe he should tell the wackjobs that they SHOULDN'T go jump off a bridge!

Posted by: Dave on September 4, 2009 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Good idea Dave--maybe it would also work if he started talking about the "evils of single payer healthcare"--then all the wingnuts would start saying "ooh, Obama doesn't like it, it must be good". Then they would at least listen to the facts and finally realize that it's in their best interest.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on September 4, 2009 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, people, this is what it is come to: they are so far down the rat hole it is actually impossible now to distinguish actual Republican arguments from satire. RepublicanPointofView presents his satire with wit, cleverness and so we know he isn't really a Republican. UrbanMatrix just insults and name calls and asserts conclusions, so thus most of us are unclear if he is just a mediocre satirist or an actual Republican.

Give Tina Fey credit, when she satirized Palin by exactly quoting her, she was on to something.

Posted by: JohnN on September 4, 2009 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

The veneer of this may look crazy, but underneath what you have is time-tested propaganda techniques. The Republicans are trying to whip up a knee-jerk, hysterical approach to the president. They want to create an atmosphere so polarized that "good Americans" won't even bother to listen to the substance of what the president has to say.

In other words, they want to take Obama's greatest strength and turn it into his greatest weakness.

That's why elected leaders are staying quiet. They understand what's going on -- and hope that it works.

Posted by: dr Lemming on September 4, 2009 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

For those school districts refusing to air the President' Message, maybe they should replay Bush's message. It doesn't really matter, nothing seems to penetrate the wingnut fog surrounding the Modern Republican Party. Obama's message wouldn't be heard by most of those people even if they had the volume turned all the way up.

Posted by: bcinaz on September 4, 2009 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

More lock step responses I see. Most people don't care about the speech. They care about the lesson plans being given out to go along with the speech. Yes they did correct the supplementals, but for the administration and his supporters (you guys) to think there was nothing wrong with the old lesson plans is baffling.

Posted by: Mom on September 4, 2009 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

While it's tempting--and arguably true--to think that this hatred is due to race, we can't forget that the Right would undoubtedly try to do this kind of disgusting, unpatriotic thing to any Democrat who holds the office, just because he/she's a Democrat.

True, but the histrionics of the right have ratcheted up a couple notches more because Obama is a "black" man. He's managed to bring out the hidden racist in a lot of people, not because of anything that he's done, but because of his heritage. Welcome to America in the 21st century. Pathetic.

Posted by: josef on September 4, 2009 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

"How did all of us good God-fearing white Christians end up with a black Muslim for a king?"

Punishment for half-a-million dead Iraqis, is my guess.

It's interesting watching the word "republican" slowly become a synonym for "monarchist".

When we had a proper sovereign on the throne, the anointed of the Lord, upon whom the Mandate of Heaven rested, we as much as added lèse majesté to Title 18 of the US Code.

But now, with a usurper on the throne, the same courtiers who profited, and the same peasants who lined up to kiss the whip during the last reign, go all Ché on us.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on September 4, 2009 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK
Yes they did correct the supplementals, but for the administration and his supporters (you guys) to think there was nothing wrong with the old lesson plans is baffling.

Hey, if you never bothered to teach your children critical thinking skills so they now take every word that an authority figure says as gospel, that ain't our problem. Maybe you should have told your children that, no, adults are not always right and don't always have all of the answers. Then you wouldn't have to worry that they'll come home with a copy of the Communist Manifesto or whatever it is you've convinced yourself will happen if -- gasp! -- the president talks to schoolchildren about education! Get out the torches!

If you really think that the president talking to schoolchildren about education is going to turn this country into North Korea, please go see your doctor today and tell him/her that you're suffering from paranoid delusions and need a heavy dose of antipsychotic medication.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on September 4, 2009 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

"The conclusion is obvious. My words have struck home and the painful truth is intolerable. - Matrice Urbaine"

Sad to say, you missed. There is yet another possible conclusion, and it may come to you if you try again. (Hint: It has already been offered to you.)

Posted by: SRW1 on September 4, 2009 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

For UrbanMatrix to say Democrats are the "Leftist Borg Collective" is the ultimate irony, coming from someone who has clearly been absorbed by the crazy right wing conspiracy movement.

Posted by: Matt on September 4, 2009 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

You probably should go back and review the hysteria by the democrat speaker of the house when bush 41 did this.

You are trying to put some deep philosophical spin on partisan politics.

Posted by: dude on September 4, 2009 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

I live in a suburb of Atlanta, GA and this morning we just recieved e-mail from our Elementary School and our Middle School that the speech would not be shown because "Daily instructional time is a precious resource and Findley Oaks has chosen to continue previously planned lessons."

Posted by: Mike on September 4, 2009 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

This is of a piece with the birthers nonsense. The GOP thinks it hilarious to undermine the office of the president.

At this point my disgust with the president over his refusal to allow the Justice Dept to investigate and prosecute Bush admin crimes and his willingness to have health care reform hijacked by those who profit on the life and death of Americans is beyond words.

By his refusal to act on these important issues, the president is making his own administration irrelevant and making the Democratic Party a pathetic joke.

Posted by: karen marie on September 4, 2009 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the Republicans can install their own president in Montgomery.

Posted by: garnash on September 4, 2009 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps if President Obama made his address in white-face, it would be more palatable to those who have such objections to anyone suggesting to their children that staying in school is positive. God forbid that students be asked to write anything or think about how they could contribute to their country. How would THAT help the drop-out rate and play a role in the already pathetic nature of American public education? “How someone could help the President”, hmmm….It is indicative of the ignorance of the opposition group that they don’t realize that an opinion contrary to Obama’s platform can be articulated in response to the question. It strikes me as other-worldly to see people who defend a right to bear loaded firearms in public and who voraciously exercise the right of free speech ( well the right to spit and scream) are protesting a positive message about education by the leader of the country. Put the students whose parents object in another room - they do have that right. Let’s hope child development works as it always has and these kids rebel against the restricted ignorance of their parents.

I agree with the post about Chris Matthews - Greer is about as rational as tits on a boar.

Posted by: DTR on September 4, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

I continue to be astounded at the gullibility and stupidity of people in this country.

Posted by: Jilli on September 4, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Ah the race card. So useful in any and all situations. Well played sir, well played....again.

Posted by: dude on September 4, 2009 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

karen marie - You do little to distinguish yourself from the birthers with your comment, and have obviously let one important issue among hundreds hijack your common sense. If you truly cared about your issue, you would acknowledge that the Obama administration is light years ahead of Bush on this issue, notwithstanding his disappointment of you (and me to some extent) on some of the specifics. He is on your side in the face of some daunting obstacles.

Posted by: Scott F. on September 4, 2009 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Mike @11:29am - I live in Marietta (Cobb Co. schools). Our superintendent decided that it would be left up to the individual schools in the county to show or not show the address. Since Cobb Co. is notoriously conservative (proposed labels on science textbooks claiming that evolution is only a theory), naturally my kids' schools will not be airing the President's message. I sent an email to the superintendent and my daughter's school principal calling them out on their decisions. Haven't heard from the superintendent but I did speak with the principal. Apparently there were fist fights (!) between white and black kids back in January when Obama was inaugurated, so the principal decided it was best not to "alienate" either group. How exactly a benign message about academic achievement and staying in school until you graduate could "alienate" anyone is beyond me.

Sometimes I feel like I'm all alone out here.

Posted by: carolatl on September 4, 2009 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

I should add that our county has a graduation rate of 68%. Pretty impressive, huh? The last thing our kids need is the president encouraging them to take school success seriously.

Posted by: carolatl on September 4, 2009 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

@Carol. It is really disturbing. Instead of the lesson being work hard, focus on school, its important and if you do, one day you too can be President of the United States the lesson becomes, we don't listen or talk to people unless they agree with us and look like "us". Policies aside, children at the very least should be taught to respect the office of the President. Next week they will learn to respect the office only if they voted for the person in it. This is the country we live in.

Posted by: Mike on September 4, 2009 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

No, Beck's Borg Bragade will be keeping their children out of school during President Barack Obama's address so they can get them to put salt in their eyes - there, that should show that man who is living in that white house! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on September 4, 2009 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Just to add one other element here: I woke up this morning to see CNN covering the "controversy". After reporting Gibbs' wholly rational dismissal of this idiocy, the anchor asked, "But does the White House acknowledge they brought this on themselves...?" -- at which point I muted the TV.

I came to this conclusion: the function of CNN at this moment is to launder Fox stories for the general public.

Posted by: demtom on September 4, 2009 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Have any of you good citizens watched the little film "I PLEDGE" that goes along with this speech? The one that says three different times that these kids will pledge to serve Obama? One of the guys saying this kisses each of arms after saying it. Very reministic of a nazi pledge. The lessons that are to go along with this movie also are set up to ridicule any child who questions any of the pledges.Anyone not seeing the danger in this must not be afraid of communism.

Posted by: yeager12 on September 4, 2009 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

MSierra @ 8:11,

It didn't begin with the stimulus package; rather it began much earlier. After Obama told Joe (He's with us on everything but the war) Lieberman that endorsing McCain would have no consequences, who would believe him if he issued an ultimatum?

Posted by: Vadranor on September 4, 2009 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

This is more than controversy. I have read parts of the speech and some of the curriculum materials. This is more than a pep talk. This is idealistic Idol worship of a personality.

George Washington refused to have his picture put on money, because we are an elected republic. He also faught against a Monarch.

Yes, encourage education, encourage patriotism, encourage respect for the White House and the office of the President, but to present a Face and Personality on the person and power (lower case) is stepping over the line. Bully pulpit is harsh, but it is what it is.

If it weren't about politics, why not make this speech as a History Channel documentary and let the people choose to watch it...that is what the previous presidents did with CSPAN.

The last time I read the constitution it read, "We the people" NOT "We the president." Lets wake up, this is our country.

Posted by: Donald Crane on September 4, 2009 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

To carol
Parents who don't want their student to see the President's address should be provided with a place to go, even though that is really extremist conduct. Likewise, if you want your student to see the address, he or she should be able to see it. Where is the ACLU, or some local legal eagles to weigh in with the school district.

Don't know where Cobb Co is but it sounds pretty scary.....

Posted by: DTR on September 4, 2009 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

The last time I read the constitution it read, "We the people"... -Donald Crane

Admit it. That's as far as you got.

Posted by: doubtful on September 4, 2009 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

@yeager12: "have any of you seen the ipledge"

This video does not "go along" with the speech, doesn't come from the White House. It's from Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.

So, as usual, "Repub argument" is a self-cancellation phrase.

Do you do ANY research before you make stuff up? Any at all? It took me 20 seconds to debunk this.

Posted by: JohnN on September 4, 2009 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

@D Craine: "This is more than a pep talk. This is idealistic Idol worship of a personality."

Do you have any, ANY, examples of this from the speech? Any phrases you can point to? Any ideas in the speech? Anything?

Of course not, you're a Republican.

Posted by: JohnN on September 4, 2009 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with you on this one, Steve. Thank GOODNESS for some sane people out there. The Republicans are absolutely throwing a tantrum. I don't usually link to other things, but I think you'll like this post:


Posted by: Lisa Jardo on September 4, 2009 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and this one definitely:


Posted by: Lisa Jardo on September 4, 2009 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Greer: "I don't want my kids looking at niggers as role models."

Posted by: Banana-Eating Jungle Monkey on September 4, 2009 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Greer cont.: "Unless the nigger is being arrested by a white policeman. That puts things in their proper context."

Posted by: Banana-Eating Jungle Monkey on September 4, 2009 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Do you do ANY research before you make stuff up? Any at all?

I don't do research, I have a life. I trust Glenn Beck to tell me the truth about this stuff.

Posted by: yeageri2 on September 4, 2009 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

These republicans only believe in a democracy when they are in charge...anyone else is just taking over the government. Too stupid to see the damage THEY are doing to their own children..."It's only a democracy honey, when our people are in office. After all, Democracy only has one side...our side."

The minority party wants to take it to the streets to regain power. They have been exposed for their intolerance of the majority as no longer credible participants in our democracy. This issue only demonstrates how low they have sunk, and how pathetic they've become.

Posted by: bjobotts on September 4, 2009 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

"...Let's NOT FORGET the town halls

NO HE DIDN'T...Guns were never allowed within the perimeters set by the SS. They were blocks away and surrounded by police detectives. Guns were worn by these goobers just to intimidate the people at the events.
There was no other reason to bring a gun to such an event making those who did so appear even more pathetic. Definitely a police problem...Crazies with guns was always just outside the "spirit" of the right to carry laws... just not inside the zones huh.

Posted by: bjobotrts on September 4, 2009 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

LMAO! The people that Obama needs to be talking to about staying in school is the parents. The very parents of the "under-privileged" he gives all my money to. Not the students, not my child. I have instilled in my child the importance of an education and I am on her case everyday about school work. These 3rd and 4th generation welfare families need this talk, not mine!

Posted by: bpeplins on September 4, 2009 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

I am a Republican. I respect the President. My ten year old will hear his message. It appears to be a message we have talked about dozens of times in our family. How sad some children haven't heard it in their family- and need to have someone address this message from a TV screen.

Maybe this is the real problem?

Posted by: L on September 4, 2009 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Thank God my kids are older, and so I do not have force them to listen to this empty Kumbaya drivel from the sixties from a man that cannot even stand up for his own ideas on stimulus and health care, and, godddamnit, for his own safety.

Posted by: gregor on September 4, 2009 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK
You probably should go back and review the hysteria by the democrat speaker of the house when bush 41 did this.

You are trying to put some deep philosophical spin on partisan politics.

Posted by: dude on September 4, 2009 at 11:22 AM

You probably should provide some reliable sources about what that "democrat speaker of the house" said in order to make your point.

Posted by: PattyP on September 4, 2009 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

that is what the previous presidents did with CSPAN.


Reagan made a politically-biased speech to all school kids via C-SPAN (which I actually remember). That was okay with you, apparently.

When Bush I made a political speech too all school kids about his education policy, that was okay, too, wasn't it?

When Bush II encouraged kids to sign up for the "Freedom Corps" and study the bios of Cheney and Bush, that was okay with you.

When DoJ officials were hired based on how they answered the question, "Why do you want to serve George Bush?", that was okay with you.

But having Obama encourage kids to stay in school, set goals, work hard, and be held accountable, IT'S A CULT OF TOTAL SOCIALISTICFASCISTNAZISM!!!!!!!

Seriously -- you're clinically fucking stupid. Hell, 20 second with Google is all it takes to debunk your entire post.

And that's the thing, isn't it: You all just don't even care about any facts that conflict with whatever reality you've constructed.

You said nothing the previous 8 years as Bush and Cheney shat all over the Constitution via signing statements and the "Unitary Executive" theory of governance.

Guess it's only fascism/socialism/monarchy when the other guy is in charge, eh?

Posted by: Mark D on September 4, 2009 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Mike @11:29am - I live in Marietta (Cobb Co. schools). Our superintendent decided that it would be left up to the individual schools in the county to show or not show the address...."-carolati

The point is: IT SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN AN ISSUE IN THE FIRST PLACE. My God, give me a break. How shallow, stupid and petty. Mountains out of Molehills...these people are just pathetic in their desire to put monsters under the beds of their children. Just pathetic.

Posted by: bjobotts on September 4, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK
.these people are just pathetic in their desire to put monsters under the beds of their children. Just pathetic.

posted by bjobotts


As I noted yesterday, that's the thing these parents will never admit: That they're afraid of having their children hear a positive message.

Think about it for a second.

These folks control everything -- their children, their politicians, themselves -- through fear.

Fear of the Devil. Fear of communism. Fear of terrorism. Fear of gays. Fear of health care. Fear of the government (when not controlled by the GOP). Fear of liberals. Fear of The Other.

To have someone -- especially someone Not Like Them -- give their kids a message of hard work, perseverance, and hope, that whole fear-based control is gone. Kaput. Blown away.

Worse yet, their kids may actually wind up liking Obama as well.

Don't get me wrong here: As a parent, I sure as hell wouldn't want my kid listening to, say, Dick Cheney's thoughts on ... well, anything.

But I sure as hell wouldn't prevent him from doing so. In fact, I'd encourage him to listen, and then have him ask me questions about it, discuss it, dissect it.

After all, the best way to turn someone into a liberal is to have them actually dig into what a conservative has to say and check the facts.


Posted by: Mark D on September 4, 2009 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Here's what I want to know- how do the people who are freaking out about this even KNOW what he's going to say in the first place?

Whack-jobs, all of them. If Repugnantcans are going to keep their kids out of school, I'm all for PRESIDENT Obama giving speeches every day of the week for the rest of his term.

Posted by: Matt on September 4, 2009 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Benen (or anyone else),

Thank you for the article. I'm wondering if you can point me to where the administration has offered an advance copy of what the president will say next week. I'm not a nutter, but there's one in my family, and he's all agog about this. His paranoia is making him suspect what Obama will say. I read your post above and want to point him to the fact that the speech is not a big secret or secret plot to ... well, to do anything other than try to inspire kids to do well in school and life.

Posted by: Jeff on September 4, 2009 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

The insane rightists attacks on Obama are endless.

I supported HIM and HIS agenda...but now, I've changed my mind after I saw his servitude and love for the biggest thieves of the world: bankers, financiers, health care, pharma CEOs. No accountability, instead rewarding failure, scammers,liers and illegal wall st. ponzi schemers.

What can He tell our children?

Be smart, finish HS and get a college degree,( meanwhile bankrupt your parents, get yourself in debt for the rest of your life) and than look at wall st stealling your savings, your hope , your disappearing jobs, and finnally , after you struggled an entire lifetime,get sick and loose your home , all you earned to pay the big bill that the medical system will send it, on a procedure that disabled you, but would have required a simple medication treatment, not a surgical procedure that pocketed the doctor 50k, the insurer 100k and put you in a wheelchair for the rest of your life.

Please, Mr. President,

Address A SPEECH TO THE ONES THAT DESTROY THE NATION, tell them that 30 times incomes of what the average earns is plentyfull, doctors should be salary paid, because health care is a RIGHT(we don't choose to be sick but could make choises to healthier living habits).

I knew an immigrant doctor(he liked to drink, was among the lowest graders at graduation)who came here just to make MONEY, because he was recognized as a doctor here...?!

So, dear students, learn how to lie, how to steal, get connected in the name of capitalism , and you'll find prosperity.

Posted by: oligarch_student on September 4, 2009 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

I am a voting American and there is no need to provide for quotes on the following.

I don't support President Obama on this issue. I also would not have supported President Reagan or Presidents Bush (either one). My response to many of you - your ignorance has gone to seed. I send my apologies to our Grandchildren in 35 years.

Posted by: Donald Crane on September 4, 2009 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Aside from the facts that these people are nuts, consider this: Part of education is teaching kids to think, to discuss, to undertake analysis and critical thinking and to ask questions. A big part of education is listening to differnet points of view and learning discernment. Discussions, debates, and new ideas are part of education. Even if the President were to say something mildly controversial (and it is unlikely), what would be the harm? It would be subject matter for exploring an idea. Kids need to be exposed to all kinds of ideas to mature and develop into good thinkers and problem solvers. Sheltering kids from ideas and drowning them in one idealogy produces inept and ignorant adults. More than likely this is racial and political, but if it is more than that, than it is even more telling of the inadaquacy of the complainers.

Posted by: xargaw on September 4, 2009 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

Obama Rules

Posted by: jou on September 4, 2009 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

MSierra, what the hell are you talking about> Obama's behavior has absolutely nothing to do with the flatulent effusion of rabid hate produced by the right wing. Rejoin relaity, will you? Before it's too late ...

Posted by: Mandy on September 5, 2009 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

I really think that both sides of this controversy are heavily using propaganda techniques. The devices of persuasion and deception are hardly the monopoly of any sector of the political spectrum, although liberals generally have better verbal skills and I would think they are better at it.

Posted by: Laird Wilcox on September 5, 2009 at 4:21 AM | PERMALINK

It is time to state the obvious: Anyone who keeps their kid out of school to avoid Obama's speech is not doing it for political or moral reasons. They are doing for one reason and solely one reason: RACISM.

Now we will know what our neighbours really think!!!

Posted by: Big Brother on September 5, 2009 at 7:29 AM | PERMALINK

Obama was raised and taught Islamic and Muslum values, he attended Rev Wrights Church of "Hate America" and befriended William Ayres a known radical. His wife just barley likes the USA just recently accepting it. Obama had stated " My kids are Off Limits" well I'll take that same stance, My Kids are OFFLIMITS as well. When Obama proves he is eligable of the office, I miight reconsider listing to his Radical positions. I am not a Democrat, nor am I a Republican--I do however LOVE AMERICA,, thats something he has never stated.

Posted by: Big Jim on September 5, 2009 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Big Jim and the likes of him are the problem with this country. This troglodyte needs to go back under the bridge and comfort himself with his paranoid fantasies.

Posted by: Lewis Allen on September 5, 2009 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

My, it was ok for the liberals to shriek every other day about Bush, but when parents decide that they don't want a liberal president to speak to their children, suddenly, they're deranged?

And most noted, Obama DIDN'T provide the text of the presentation before it was scheduled, only AFTER the anger erupted.

Look, they shrieked when HW Bush did it, and they shouldn't expect ANYTHING DIFFERENT now just becaue it's a DEMOCRAT. If they didn't like it when Bush did it, they shold expect the same response about a democrat president.

And more importantly, that's how angry the nation is. Not just "right wingers" as you would like to assume.

The entire NATION is angry at the democrats. For what they've done, and what they're doing. The nation is saying STOP and go back to the drawing board. No one wants what the democrats are trying to ram through.

77% of the ENTIRE NATION sees Obama as politically liberal. In a nation that 41% now SELF classify themselves as conservative, and only 21% liberal.

Take a look at what he and the democrats have done. Auto bailouts, bank bailouts, a demonstrably stupid stimulus plan, ALL OF WHICH NO ONE WANTED.

And now, as the nation says NO to what the liberals are pushing for HC reform, the liberals do nothing but call a MAJORITY of the nation "fringe" or "mobs."

Wake up. And you think this is just "right wingers?" 53% of ALL INDEPENDENTS give OBAMA A NEGATIVE JOB APPROVAL. . .that's not right wingers.

Obama shouldn't be interested in speaking to the kids, he should drop the HC and get to the economy, like poll after poll after poll have said from DAY 1. "It's the economy, stupid."

Tom Kelly said: "Sometimes Rahm Emanual, it is better to solve the crisis than to take advantage of it."

Remember, those that govern do so only with the CONSENT of those they govern, and when they lose that CONSENT, is when you have heightened anger in the nation.

Think about that.

Posted by: No One Important on September 5, 2009 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

OMG, I am so irritated by the ignorance of these stupid parents. Do parents today not understand the importance of education? Do they want their children to suffer hardships in their lives? Think about it people, no education equals no money equals sucky life. Really, maybe these parents need to go back to school. I believe it is the President's responsibility to encourage children to do good in school and stay in school. Obviously their parents don't. Why would we want to discourage children from doing good in school and staying school, so they are not a burden to society in the future. Come one people, use your heads.

Posted by: CNA on September 5, 2009 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

No one important: All this administration has done is prevent the total collapse of the economy. Considering what he was faced with upon taking office, Obama's done an excellent job. And while a few democratic senators and reps did indeed shriek when Bush and Reagan tried to peddle their agendas to our kids, there was nothing like the hysterics you hear now. Indoctrinated, indeed, is the right, by the dimwitted likes of Limbaugh, Beck, and Co. Not everyone is mad at the democrats. I, for one, am pissed as hell that Obama's enemies won't even give him a fighting chance to succeed. The vitriol he's facing now is way, way, off the charts, and far greater than anything any other president has ever dealt with. If you disagree, consider that Obama has nearly 3 times the death threats that Bush II had. I say one against ANY president is one too many.

Posted by: Lewis Allen on September 5, 2009 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Whine al you want the problem was the creepy and cultish "lesson plans"...

Oh and Democrats raised hell about Bush's speech to kids.

Posted by: John Smart on September 5, 2009 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

So what's next, letting Van Jones cozy up to the kiddies and explain to them what's "wrong" about America? I wouldn't expose a child of mine to these ideological perverts.

Posted by: Flint on September 5, 2009 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder why people are worried about a cult of personality, and that the US presidency is starting to look a bit too much like what goes on in the undemocratic nations of the planet...



Keep telling yourselves that opponents of Obama are all racist extremist nuts, you Open Minded Tolerant Lefties

Posted by: Al on September 5, 2009 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

Let the fundies hold their kids back. My kids are going to have enough competition when they hit the job market. If they don't have to compete with the spawn of inbred crackers, fine by me.

Posted by: Realist on September 5, 2009 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

People don't get it. He's not talking to the articulate people reading this website, he's talking to the kids who have parents who can't. You can hold all the conversations you want with your kids, and it won't change the fact that working hard and staying in school are good things. Many kids are in situations where they do not understand that.

If it's politicking for the leader of the most powerful country on the planet to deliver a message to work hard and stay in school, then we can all use a little more politicking. Doesn't learnin' keep people off of wellfare? Isn't that a conservative value? Get over it, he won. Don't sabatoge everything he does, and then wonder why nothing gets done. Where was Rush when Reagan told me how he was going to trickle on me?

While I'm on my rant, I love business owners who bitch about their healthcare premiums going up by 20% a year, and then suggest that governmental healthcare is the worst idea in the world. I haven't heard any seniors complaining about Medicare. How about making some constructive feedback and working across the isle. Oh, I'm sorry our last president made the grammatically sound slogan "uniter not divider", and we all saw how that worked. I can understand the cynicism.

Posted by: MT_Dan on September 6, 2009 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK



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