(*My post mortem of Obama's speech at Wakefield High School at the end of this post) FROM ONE FIRESTORM TO ANOTHER
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.
OBAMA'S SPEECH TO OUR CHILDREN
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.
BENDING YOUNG MINDS?
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!
NOT AN OBAMA FAN
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.
NEWPORT-MESA WON'T SHOW THE SPEECH LIVE
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.
ADDING TO THE CHAOS OF THE FIRST DAY
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 READ THE MEDIA COVERAGE
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.
LOOKING FOR "RED MEAT"
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.
PRETTY GOOD PEP TALK
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.
MESSAGE FROM A NEIGHBOR
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.
OK, BUT THE DECISION'S BEEN MADE
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.KEEP THEM HOME AND VIEW IT WITH THEM
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.
*THE SPEECH WAS OK
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)
HE STUCK TO THE TEXT
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...
I GUESS IT WAS WORTH 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.