Monday, September 07, 2009

The United States of America

"There is no red state America, there is no blue state America; but there is a United States of America."

"Americans...sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and always will be, the United States of America."

"And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too."

--President Barack Obama

Why on earth are people complaining about the President of the United States of America giving a speech to school children about the importance of education? Whether or not you agree with the President's vision for America's future, he's the President!

Laura Bush agrees. "I think there is a place for the president ... to talk to schoolchildren and encourage" them, she said. Parents should follow his example and "encourage their own children to stay in school and to study hard and to try to achieve the dream that they have."

President Reagan gave a televised address to schoolchildren. So did President George H. W. Bush. (Watch them here.) Now Obama is going to do the same.

Here's the full text of Obama's planned speech, addressed to students in Kindergarten through twelfth grade. "And that's what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. Every single one of you has something you're good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That's the opportunity an education can provide."

If you think it's appropriate for Presidents to be able to speak to schoolchildren about the importance of staying in school and working hard, let your school administrators know.

Patriots may disagree vehemently with various policy positions taken by politicians. But patriots respect the office of the Presidency.

If you, like me, want a shot of respectful, bipartisan patriotism, have another listen.

And this, too:
"These are difficult times for our country, and I pledge to [President-Elect Obama] tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.

I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises, to bridge our differences, and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.

Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that."

--Senator John McCain


Anonymous said...

"Why on earth are people complaining about the President of the United States of America giving a speech to school children about the importance of education?"

Are you kidding? The bitter rump of the extreme right that annexed the Republican tradition doesn't consider him a legitimate president; they don't consider him an _American_. They honestly believe he's assembling enemies lists and working to implement forced death panels. The more clear-headed among them think only that he's promoting voluntary euthanasia.

They oppose his giving an innocuous speech to schoolchildren--just as Reagan and Bush did--because they understand that in this dysfunctional media environment, where truth claims are privileged over truths, the way to 'win' the public conversation is with the loudest and most forceful possible opposition. There's no downside. At worse, the media will report on 'what some consider Obama's ill-considered decision to politicize the schools ...'

Sarahlynn said...

Yeah, I'm hearing a lot of that. "The White House should have expected this sort of reaction," etc.

Why? Why should we expect this? I am feeling a certain amount of rage toward media and elected officials (including members of congress!) who knowingly perpetuate treasonous lies about the duly elected President of the United States. All their falsehoods about his place of birth and secret religion have been debunked, but people keep talking about it and the media keeps reporting it - often without qualification - which echoes louder and louder.

In this society, we're so lazy that if loud and obnoxious opposition keeps screaming about a person, eventually we figure the best thing to happen is for the TARGET of the opposition to go away, not the inappropriate screaming liars.

Hate the idea of health care reform? Attack and rebut it. Don't make up lies about "death panels." Hate the idea of a President whose father was born in Africa? Admit it, or, if you're too embarrassed, sit quietly. But don't make false claims about the President's birthplace.

flatflo said...

I just finished reading the speech and an NPR article about some of the hoopla from the right. There have been a lot of great rebuttals, but I haven't seen one regarding one sentence they take issue with (the second one here):
"Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I'm working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you've got to do your part too."

Granted, he could say WE are working hard, but I think it is a good thing that our nation's leader is taking personal responsibility to make things better in the classroom. I also think the kids need to hear that. Too many times teachers are buying supplies out of their own pocket and students may get a sense that the heirarchy just doesn't care. And if nobody else cares, why should the kids?

Obama's speech should be heard and discussed. Even if parents don't agree with Obama's politics, they can't object to the speech if they actually listen.

Anonymous said...

"Why? Why should we expect this?"

For the same reason that we expect drunks to fall down stairs. That's what they -do-.

You can't debunk these things. They're not lies, as we understand the term. They're beliefs. Debunking 'Obama was born in Kenya' is like debunking transmutation. That is not susceptible to debunking.

I'm more upset--in some ways--with the media than the screams. It's like Krugman once said, about how the media would report the world being round: "Shape of the Earth: Views Differ."

Jennifer said...

Exactly! I, too, am frustrated by the lack of respect some of the extreme conservatives are treating the President of our country! Great post . . well written!!!

Sarahlynn said...

Jennifer, thank you!

Bingol, exactly! I think my head just spun around and popped off.