Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Obama's Propaganda? Er, Where?

(*My post mortem of Obama's speech at Wakefield High School at the end of this post)

I returned from the Labor Day Holiday to find myself in the midst of a virtual firestorm - as opposed to the real firestorms that were burning when I left.

The firestorm I mention now is the one created by the speech our trainee president, Barack Obama, will deliver to a group of school children this morning and that will be made available to be streamed live into classrooms all around the country simultaneously.

Since this speech was announced it seems that the totality of the conservative movement has risen up against it as some kind of socialist takeover plot - a way to bend the malleable young minds of our children, turning them into something akin to World War II Hitler youth!


Now, let me say that I AM NOT a fan of Barack Obama. I think he's doing serious, perhaps irreparable, damage to our country in his mad scramble to recreate it in an image most of us don't recognize. I am a conservative - a lifelong Republican - and have gotten very angry at Obama for the many things he's done and is trying to do since his election last year.


So, I read of the decision by the Newport-Mesa Unified School District's decision to not show Obama's speech live in it's classrooms with great interest. You can read Dr. Jeffrey Hubbard's letter on the subject HERE. Dr. Hubbard tells us that the district will capture the live feed for future viewing, and that parents will have the opportunity to "opt out" their children from any such viewing if they choose to do so.


I do understand that expecting our children to view this speech within the first couple hours of their first day back in school would tax even the most efficient administration. This year, of course, we have the probable chaos of the large numbers of children who will be turned away from school because they don't meet the residence requirements. That, alone, is probably a good reason to postpone presentation of the speech.


I've read the Daily Pilot article on this issue, which has been amended for today's publication, along with the many comments posted online from readers on both sides of the issue. You can read it HERE. I read nanny-to-us-all Steve Smith's column on the subject, HERE. Quite honestly, Smith threw me a curve ball, because he has spouted his disdain for the evils of television over the years, so I thought he might lump Obama's speech in with it. No, that's not the route he took.

Then I went online and read the text of Obama's speech - all 2438 words of it. I read it, then re-read it, looking for the red meat that has my fellow conservatives so riled up. I didn't find any - not even a sliver of gristle. You can read it for yourself HERE.

What I did find was a pretty straight-forward pep talk, which will probably be delivered with much skill and enthusiasm by Obama this morning at 9 a.m our time. I'm going to print out the text and read along with The President, to see if he adds any last minute propaganda. Honestly, I don't see that happening.


When I arrived home this weekend I found the following email from a neighbor awaiting me. He has a child currently attending Newport-Mesa schools and two others who have graduated and are in college. Here's what he wrote to me:

How is it possible for parents in N-MUSD to have their children “opt out” of viewing a presidential address? Who decided this? Who demanded this of the N-MUSD? Do parents feel that a speech by a duly elected U.S. President is NOT WORTHY of their children’s ears and eyes if that president (or any president, past or present) does not represent the parents’ political viewpoint? Will N-MUSD be extending this same “opt out” form to parents who do not want their children exposed to speeches, papers or legislation by other members of federal, state and local governments, including decisions by our judicial system? Isn’t the purpose of our publicly-financed educational system to impart knowledge in our school children of the U.S. government and political party system so that they can make informed decisions about matters that effect them as they become adults? Is the school district being pressured by some parents to preventing their children from hearing an address by the current President of the United States based on the parents’ disagreement with the President’s age, sex, race, religion, employment status or political party membership? Does this action constitute indirect “censorship” by a governmental agency (i.e., N-MUSD) of a U.S. president?

I am in total disagreement with this action by N-MUSD; and feel that it should receive the attention of the local press for public debate.

Having read Obama's prepared text, I certainly understand my neighbor's point of view. However, the decision has been made and the district says it will provide an opportunity for viewing of the speech at a future date. To me, the speech doesn't have an urgency to it, so a few days delay in presenting it to our kids won't hurt anything. And, for those who feel they don't want Obama's "propaganda" to infiltrate their children's skulls, they can always "opt out". It seems to me, though, that it would be their loss.

And, for those who feel strongly about their children having the chance to see this speech live, they can always keep them home and watch it live on C-Span or on the live stream.


OK, after all the hoopla, angst and controversy, our trainee president, Barack Obama, spoke to the students at Wakefield High School in Alexandria, Virginia, and to students all across the country. (Except those in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District)

During his 16 minute presentation he stayed pretty much on script. He tripped a couple times, but you wouldn't have known it if you didn't have a copy of the prepared text in front of you, as I did.


A couple of interesting changes: About six minutes in, while he was setting the scene for his own personal struggles, instead of saying that he was raised by a single mother, he used the phrase "single mom". I suspect that change resonated better with his audience.

A little further on, instead of saying, "But I was fortunate." He changed it to, "But I was lucky." I guess that makes him sound more like a man of the people. "Fortunate" sounds a little elite to some folks.

Two-thirds of the way through he changed a phrase from, "...all kids deserve a safe environment.." to "...all young people deserve...".

At the end, he planned to close with, "I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don't let us down - don't let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it." He actually left out that last six-word sentence. Maybe he's not really sure if they can do it...


The speech was OK. It might inspire some young folks to work hard and stay in school. If it accomplishes that, then it was worth the time. I saw no reason that the Newport-Mesa Unified School District shouldn't show this brief speech to all students in the near future.



Anonymous Kent Morrow said...

Obama is the Leader. Get used to it.

9/08/2009 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Actually, Kent, he's the President - a position to which he was elected. In my view, the jury's still out on whether he's a "leader" or not. We'll see...

9/08/2009 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger Flo Martin said...

The President focussed on family, on individual responsibility, on patriotism, on hard work, etc. I am disgusted that the NMUSD
"caved" to pressure from some crazy factions that have a deep-seated, multi-faceted fear of President Obama. Censorship? Heck, yes!

When Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, as well as George W. Bush spoke to our nation's school kids, no one raised such a clamor. I am ashamed of our school district's leaders.

9/08/2009 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger Humberto said...


The right in the U.S. thinks Obama's a socialist; the Left in Latin America feels he's acting a lot like Bush. Ultra-conservatives, like Glen Beck and your favorite neighbor, believe he's a white hater. Looks like the people in the middle of the political spectrum love Obama. Perhaps not?

9/08/2009 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Humberto, I don't know about the "middle" folks, but I do know he's got the geezers (like me) petrified of what he's trying to do with health care. Personally, I'm not eager to have some bureaucrat decide whether my late-60s body is worth saving... His speech to a joint session of Congress tonight should be very interesting.

9/09/2009 12:15:00 AM  
Blogger Flo Martin said...

No government bureaucrat will decide whether or not you're salvageable.

Tthat's the job of the person in charge of approving/denying insurance claims. And, we all know their record--70 percent DENIED; 30 percent APPROVED. Got cancer? DROPPED! Pre-existing condition? DON'T EVEN BOTHER! Health insurance is big business and the bottom line is their most important product.

9/09/2009 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger mesa verde madman said...

Politics is a dirty game these days... As more of a Libertarian than anything, I find it beyond ludicrous that United States Congressman were holding up signs, and one even had the lack of control to shout out and call the President of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA a LIAR on national television in a joint session of Congress. My god, it was like a Costa Mesa City Council meeting... what happened to class and decorum? Is this this country Glenn Beck weeps for? All I know is I weep - for the future of this country and the wingnuts that live among us!

9/11/2009 11:10:00 PM  

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