One of my first school memories was seeing a picture of the President on the kindergarten classroom wall.
It was Nixon.
My formal education ended more than two decades later in my grad-school flame-out under Bush 41. 1969 to 1992, and lots of Republican presidents, with only a four year Jimmy Carter interregnum during high school.
Now our new president wants to talk to kids in school and Republicans, still suffering the hydrophobic denial of their loss last fall, are crying foul and demanding that parents actually keep their kids home for the day rather than subject them to Obama propaganda. Or Obamaganda if you will.
"The ICCSD can make better use of instructional time than spoon-feeding whatever manipulative dogma is being promoted by the current federal administration to young children," our local friends at Coralville Courier write, demanding parental permission and decrying the lack of "pre-screening." (Hint: Get on the White House press e-mail list; you'll soon have all the transcripts of presidential remarks as prepared for delivery you can pre-screen.)
So what awful message does our Dear Leader offer our innocent young ones? It appears he'll be indoctrinating kids to... stay in school?
"President Obama will make the short trip across the Potomac River on Tuesday to deliver a message to students to make the most of school. encourage students to maximize their educational opportunities.
The speech, the main event in an administration-wide effort to promote education, will be given at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va. It will also be broadcast live on C-SPAN and via webcast, as students gather in assemblies to watch."
Dangerously radical! He must have got the idea from William Ayers! The home-school demographic must be a really big part of the dwindling GOP base.
Hard work and education. Working hard and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps even. Can you think of anyone especially well suited to deliver that message? Maybe, I don't know... the son of a single mom who grew up to go to Harvard Law and become... President of the United States?
And that's what it's really about. It's not the message, it's the messenger. Whether it's birthers or deathers or objections to innocuous remarks, Republicans are sparing no effort to deny Obama the legitimacy of the Presidency. No matter how non-controversial and positive the textual message, the subtext is the same one I got in kindergarten: "this man is the leader of our country." And that's the part they object to.
I think I just accidentally compared Obama to Nixon.
Hey, it sucks to lose an election. I've been on that side more often than not. But this time my guy got the most votes and Presidents get to use their bully pulpit. It's one of the perks. Sometimes they even get to use it to set a positive example for children. Reagan gave a widely broadcast speech to children after the Challenger went supernova. W told school kids to stay off drugs (insert your own snarky punchline here). And of course he read that My Pet Goat book too.
So Obama wants to tell kids to stay in school, he's the president, he gets to do that. When Sarah Palin's president she can tell kids to make the most of their education by transferring to five different colleges. When Mike Huckabee's president he can tell kids to study really hard in creation science class.
My nine year old education expert is in the office with me as I write, doing homework. I explain the so-called "controversy" to him. "That's... kinda weird," he says. "The Republicans must want kids to flunk out then." Only nine and I already have him good and indoctrinated.