I think the White House and Obama fouled this up from the beginning, making it look much more political than necessary, and gave their critics a boatload of ammunition with which to attack them. The speech, included in its entirety below, turned out to be entirely innocuous. But by asking teachers to impress upon children the need to “help President Obama,” they made it look blatantly political. They seem to have forgotten that they’re the public servants, and that the people do not live to serve political masters. As Frank Wilson puts it in another context, Americans see themselves as citizens, not subjects, with the President only of a higher rank for the temporary period of time that we put him there. This has been incompetently handled from beginning to end, including the highly embarrassing scheduling that inadvertently excluded millions of students from the speech.
Update II: I’ve run the speech through a word frequency counter and found the following results:
56 iterations of “I”
19 iterations of “school”
10 iterations of “education”
8 iterations of “responsibility”
7 iterations of “country”
5 iterations each of “parents”, “teachers”
3 iterations of “nation”
In other words, Barack Obama referenced himself more than school, education, responsibility, country/nation, parents, and teachers combined. And to think that people accused Obama of self-promotion!
That’s outrageous! I want Congressional hearings:
The controversy over President Obama’s speech to the nation’s schoolchildren will likely be over shortly after Obama speaks today at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. But when President George H.W. Bush delivered a similar speech on October 1, 1991, from Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington DC, the controversy was just beginning. Democrats, then the majority party in Congress, not only denounced Bush’s speech — they also ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate its production and later summoned top Bush administration officials to Capitol Hill for an extensive hearing on the issue.
Unlike the Obama speech, in 1991 most of the controversy came after, not before, the president’s school appearance. The day after Bush spoke, the Washington Post published a front-page story suggesting the speech was carefully staged for the president’s political benefit. “The White House turned a Northwest Washington junior high classroom into a television studio and its students into props,” the Post reported.
With the Post article in hand, Democrats pounced. “The Department of Education should not be producing paid political advertising for the president, it should be helping us to produce smarter students,” said Richard Gephardt, then the House Majority Leader. “And the president should be doing more about education than saying, ‘Lights, camera, action.’”
Democrats did not stop with words. Rep. William Ford, then chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate the cost and legality of Bush’s appearance. On October 17, 1991, Ford summoned then-Education Secretary Lamar Alexander and other top Bush administration officials to testify at a hearing devoted to the speech. “The hearing this morning is to really examine the expenditure of $26,750 of the Department of Education funds to produce and televise an appearance by President Bush at Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington, DC,” Ford began. “As the chairman of the committee charged with the authorization and implementation of education programs, I am very much interested in the justification, rationale for giving the White House scarce education funds to produce a media event.”
Obama got caught with his metaphorical dick in his hands, and has tried to paper over a blatant political appeal with a flimsy excuse for a pep talk. And even then, he can’t bring himself to speak for the nation. He believes he is the nation.
Folks, we won’t get the satisfaction of seeing this man exposed for the collectivist fraud that he is. Too many powerful institutions are invested in his reputation and his legacy. But more people are wising up every day. And when Obama’s vision of the social contract is repudiated once and for all, the media will wail and gnash their teeth—to no avail. May he enjoy a long lifetime as the youngest ex-President ever.