The President Is Not a Guidance Counselor

The case against Barack Obama's speech to schoolchildren

Q: Why on earth would anyone object to the president's speech to schoolkids today? Do they think he's going to beam subliminal socialist messages into the children's heads?

A: It's a bit more than that. Most of the opposition has centered around the original lesson plan produced by the Department of Education to be used with the speech, with its suggestions that students discuss such questions as "What do you think the President wants us to do?" and "Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?" At one point it asked kids to "Write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president." You can see how language like that would get people alarmed.

Q: But that's all been shelved now. They've stripped that language out of the lesson plan. It's just a banal little talk about the value of working hard in school. It's the same things past presidents have said to kids, the same things other authority figures tell children all the time. It sounds like the protesters are objecting to the messenger, not the message.

A: The medium is the message. The speech will be a pile of platitudes, not an overtly ideological address. But the exercise itself has ideological undertones, with an implicit lesson that reinforces the bipartisan cult of the presidency. The man in the Oval Office is not supposed to be the nation's chief guidance counselor or its father-in-chief, and it sends a creepy message to act as though he is.

Q: Come on. Barack Obama isn't the first president to speak to America's schoolchildren. Did you object when any of the others did it?

A: Oh, I've made my share of jokes about George W. Bush's goat book. And when my 17-year-old self was one of several thousand North Carolina kids herded onto a field to hear Ronald Reagan remind us to say no to drugs, I took the opportunity to sit on top of a fence holding a sign saying "U.S. Out of Central America" or something to that effect.

Q: Well, maybe you're an exception. But you have to admit, a lot of the people complaining about Obama's address would have no objections at all if the man telling kids to study hard and stay in school was a Republican.

A: Yes—and vice versa, too. When George H.W. Bush spoke to schoolkids in 1991, the Democratic majority leader denounced it as "paid political advertising for the president." On the Republican side, meanwhile, Newt Gingrich asked, "Why is it political for the president of the United States to discuss education?"

So there's plenty of opportunism at work here. But the protests are still a healthy thing.

Q: Come on. Do you really think the speech is going to do any damage?

A: The speech will do little harm in itself. Schools shovel nonsense down boys' and girls' throats every day; today's menu will offer just a slight change of flavor. But that's why the protests are healthy. It's a rare day when parents across the country explicitly tell their kids to take their lessons with a grain of salt.

Children shouldn't be taught that the president—any president—is a beloved paternal figure with a grand plan for everyone. (From the original lesson plan: "Students might think about: What specific job is he asking me to do? Is he asking anything of anyone else? Teachers? Principals? Parents? The American people?") Children should be taught the truth: that presidents are polarizing figures who are constantly dogged by controversy. That Americans don't always agree about proper public policy, and sometimes they disagree enough to do something as drastic as keeping their kids home from school. That politics is about conflict, not listening in unison while a friendly face on a TV screen dispenses instructions.

If the president's address took place with no protest, it would be—at best—a waste of classroom time. The protests, by contrast, are a lesson in the passions of American politics. And if your real parents are at odds with the faux father in the White House, they can offer something yet more valuable: the chance to hear an authority figure remind you that it isn't always best to submit unthinkingly to authority.

Jesse Walker is managing editor of Reason magazine.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • RectoNoVerso||

    Revolt Of The Stupid
    http://rectonoverso.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/revolt-of-the-stupid/

  • ||

    One of the first rules of combat, philosophical or physical, is to choose your battles wisely.

    This is a classic example of choosing a stupid battle.

  • robert||

    this looks like it has effectively gotten the opposition, which has been effectively getting the obama administration off message, off message themselves.

  • Tricky Prickears||

    A speech that centers around personal responsibility? How dare he. Children are supposed to be fat, lazy, stupid, consumer driven pawns, that give in to instant gratification at every possible opportunity.

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    "A speech that centers around personal responsibility? How dare he."

    When Presidents start taking personal responsibility for things they do, then they can start lecturing the rest of us about it.

  • @||

    There's a theme developing here, one we witnessed not long ago with the Clintons. They might not have done anything wrong in any particular instance, but with this new administration there is often a sense of impropriety. In this case maybe the president is honest (for a politician) and he's just surrounded by creeps.

  • Slap Maxwell||

    Jesse Walker = Jim Greer? Holy cowpies, Batman!

  • ||

    I just can't get riled up about this. It's a pep talk to kids, and the president is the pep-talker-in-chief.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "A speech that centers around personal responsibility? How dare he"

    How dare he indeed since everything he's been doing and trying to do as president is exactly the opposite of promoting personal responsibilty.

    He bails out the UAW from it's irresponsibilty, he bails out house flippers and people who stupidly took out loans they couldn't afford for houses they couldn't afford from their irresponsibilty. He gives certain car buyers handouts of other people's money. He wants to give enormous greater loads of handouts of other people's money to some folks to pay for their health insurance and/or treatment. The list goes on and on.

    No, Obama has no room to be talking about personal resposibilty. His actions show that is the very anthithesis of his real beliefs.

  • Bryan Alexander||

    Gingrich tweeted that he was fine with the speech.

  • ||

    Uh, the original outrage was over the study guide, not the speech. Claiming that the opposition is off-message because the truly disturbing parts of the study guide have been excised is ludicrous.

    Yes, the speech as it stands now is simply innocuous stupidity, but before there was something to be concerned about.

  • Tricky Prickears||

    Gilbert Martin

    You left out TARP and all of the money that went to saving AIG and all of the failed banks and all of the individuals that were rewarded for their "mistakes" at those institutions, and centered your comment on individuals and labor unions. Why was that? And how do you figure the UAW into this? Because they were given partial ownership to GM and Chrysler?

  • ||

    He dared use the "S" word?? Just because you have trouble with you lesson doesn't (necessarily) mean you're STUPID???? (your mom probably hasn't filed the right papers for welfare)

    This is most likely the "revised speech" and this one had to be written by the President himself. It contains 83 "I"s and 3 "my"s 1 "we" and 1 "us". I didn't count the "you"s and "your"s but maybe 20.

    This is all about I. Too long, sounds too much like a political stumpper and even has the typical 3 named disadvantaged students (wo is me). I had trouble staying focused just reading this garbage. Why waste valuable ED time for this crap?

  • ||

    We should teach the controversy, though, and have Sarah Palin address the kids with the Republican response afterward.

  • ||

    Gotta disagree with this one. This seems like something Obama may actually be good at.

  • JohnD||

    The simple fact is that the people no longer trust Obama. And with good reason. The man is a lying Marxist.

  • EJM||

    I just can't get riled up about this. It's a pep talk to kids, and the president is the pep-talker-in-chief.

    You're missing the big picture: The speech is just a cover that allows him to subject the nation's helpless children to the exotic mind-control techniques that he no doubt picked up in Kenya and/or Indonesia. ;)

  • ||

    Thom Moses,

    Do you mind if I borrow your secret decoder ring after you are finished with it?

  • Trey Garrison||

    I made similar points in my column in the Dallas Morning News on Friday.

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/opinion/viewpoints/stories/DN-garrison_04edi.State.Edition1.2612e1f.html

  • ||

    Thanks, Jessie, your out of Central America mindset has resulted in hopeless poverty for millions of people languishing under Chavez style socialism. I won't be waiting for a Honduras post from you. On Obama's speech, right on, kids should be taught that presidents deserve scorn for wanting the job.

  • ||

    It's not helpful that people calling into radio shows suck at forming sound arguments. If I thought people were smart I'd think they must be liberals posing as conservatives to make them sound dumber. But, unfortunately, they merely went to the top and not over it to befit the caricature.

  • hmm||

    Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what you can do to get me reelected.



    I don't care either way. The initial draft or lesson was creepy and could have been lifted from any, "OMG collectivism" novel. Which probably leads to some insight on how the administration views itself from within. I wonder if women still weep and men tremble when The "O" walks down the hall headed for the bathroom. There's a certain smugness about asking someone, child or not, to list how they can help the president. It's just more stupid shit from a pile of well educated retards.

  • Joe M||

    From now on, I'm going to call Obama our National Daddy, because that's clearly the job he really wants.

  • ||

    I'm the last guy to defend Obama, believe me but I read the remarks and I felt it was the ultimate call for the achievement of the individual. If he talked like this more often I'd have a much higher opinion of him.

  • robert||

    Nick

    you got my point about taking the opposition off point. in the last week the MSM have had people offering arguments against this speech that are idiotic and petty. the opposition looks like it is all about death panels and paranoia over obamas mind control techniques.

  • ||

    I have no problem with Obama's speech, really - however, I would vehemently object if Joe Biden were to address the nation's schoolchildren.

  • Anonymous||

    In this case maybe the president is honest (for a politician)

    You could talk more clearly without his dick in your mouth.

  • ||

    Why does Obama need a captive audience? Why can't he just put this speech on TV and the web for interested parties to watch?

  • ||

  • ||

    Please, please, please don't turn this magazine into some Jim Greer-approved whiner rag.

  • Barry Loberfeld||

    Yet another argument for the separation of School and State.

  • ||

    Jinkies. I posted this on my facebook. I do believe I hit a nerve!

  • Kevin Benson||

    Mr. Walker spouts typical, cynical fare. I find his opinion more polarizing than helpful. Here's my post from yesterday, prior to President Obama's remarks becoming available...Why My Homeschooled Kids Will Watch Obama's Speech...and my comments still stand.

  • ||

    Nice job putting this into perspective and talking about the real potential value of this speech - challenging the idea of the imperial presidency - and extolling the virtues of dissent. Thanks!

  • EJM||

    Jinkies. I posted this on my facebook. I do believe I hit a nerve!

    Zoinks!

  • ||

    I would like for the President to put out a DVD of himself reading the Constitution to schoolchildren.

    If it's too long, he can just read the part where it talks about the powers of the executive. (Have the Speaker of the House read the part about the House, have the Senate Majority Leader read the part about the Senate, have the Chief Justice talk about how Marbury vs. Madison means he doesn't have to read the part about the Supreme Court, and so on)

    This would be good for children.

  • Jonathan Sinclair||

    "When Presidents start taking personal responsibility for things they do, then they can start lecturing the rest of us about it."

    Apparently, a lot of adults forgot who this speech was for. It's not for you and your hypocritical, "I want my children to avoid the mistakes I made" mentality. Why do children have to be affected by your jaded sense of "omg he's trying to be a good president when I don't agree with him" foolishness as if everything someone does is for political gain just because that's how YOU imagine it to be. This speech is for children, most of which don't even know anything about marxism or communism because parents haven't taught and kids haven't been taking enough responsibility to learn. They're playing video games and basketball dreaming of being rich without hard work.

    Obama's message would be useless if it wasn't needed, if parents were teaching their children and making sure that they succeed against all obstacles. Kids do not care what you think about the man or his politics. This is about their future and how to make the best of it.

  • Jonathan Sinclair||

    "I would like for the President to put out a DVD of himself reading the Constitution to schoolchildren."

    He wouldn't have to if George & Dick (co-president and president) had tag teamed that task 4 years ago. All this angry mob mentality is superfluous voodoo to make people forget how the nation got into this mess and who was in charge at the time so that they don't blame themselves or their precious "can do no wrong" republican party.

    So now there is no choice for the GOP but to blame the person trying to fix it when they were silent lambs to the slaughter as the situation was being created. And that's laughable that NOW people want to voice opposition and that NOW people DONT want to "help the president" when it will take much more than any president to fix the economy, teach future generation, and create new jobs.

    No don't help the president who is trying to fix the nation's problems kids. Because those problems were made by the "Good guys". Wait until "we" win again and then help the president. Screw your future little Timmy. I want my party to win in 2010.

  • Obama||

    Get a good education or you'll wind up in Afghanistan.

  • ||

    Jonathan, I think *EACH* president should do it.

    It will, at least, prove that they've *READ* that part of the Constitution.

    It can be used as evidence in their impeachment trials.

  • ||

    have the Chief Justice talk about how Marbury vs. Madison means he doesn't have to read the part about the Supreme Court

    Better if he talked about how they don't seem to feel the need to read any of it.

  • ||

    All this angry mob mentality is superfluous voodoo to make people forget how the nation got into this mess and who was in charge at the time

    A combination of Democrat and Republican Presidents and Congresses, if I recall.

  • hmm||

    Get a good education or you'll wind up in Afghanistan.

    Hell, half the people I know serving there or in Iraq are college grads including a few masters.

  • alan||


    Obama's message would be useless if it wasn't needed, if parents were teaching their children and making sure that they succeed against all obstacles. Kids do not care what you think about the man or his politics. This is about their future and how to make the best of it.


    In mindless automaton land this argument would make some sense, but unfortunately people are not just a uniform quant making up a larger unit where all you have to do is put a little utilitarian instruction in their ears and set them forth to fulfill their roles in society. I know, it is the Dewey Dream that the vast apparatus of public instruction is based upon, but stultifying the critical faculties of one generation after the next could only be achieved for so long without having creating negative feedback and a negative impact on the nation.

  • hmm||

    Screw your future little Timmy. I want my party to win in 2010.

    Um, national debt? Someone is screwing Timmy. It' either the local priest or the government.

    And that's laughable that NOW people want to voice opposition and that NOW people DONT want to "help the president" when it will take much more than any president to fix the economy, teach future generation, and create new jobs.

    Presidents fix economies, teach generations, and create jobs? Silly me. I thought it was the private sector that moved the economy and teachers that taught generations. Do you by Dan Lacey unicorn art.

    I will help my country. The politicians can help themselves...to my income, my property and my freedoms. They seem pretty good at that.

  • ||

    Somebody here is seriously delusional *cough*sinclair*cough*.

    Seriously, many, if not most of us were complaining during the last presidency. I know I sent letters and made phone calls last fall trying to convince representatives that spending huge piles of cash we didn't have at the beginning of a recession was a terrible idea. Your point is blind and tired, not to mention, most definitely not on topic.

    Those of us that are opposed to this whole thing, for the most part aren't worried about our kids being brainwashed. We're not really worried about some nefarious plot. We're opposed to the precedent this provides. I personally don't see any reason for the president to be dictating any national lesson plan. In fact I'm opposed to the feds mandating any nation wide curriculum. Good thing it's against the law, which, if they stuck to the initial plan, would have made this event, not only objectionable, but illegal.

    You go ahead and keep arguing against your fictitious opponent, with your unrelated points. I'll just ignore you from here on out.

  • ||

    How dare this current President do what the same thing Reagan, and both Bushes have done! Who does he think he is!

    Seriously, this guy is given the leasdt political motivated speech to children there ever has been. Why is this a probelm? Because you don't like him? Gee, I'm sorry, but my kids had to listen to that "No Children Left Behind" political drivel that Bush Jr. spewed, your kids can handle this guy telling your kids to stay in school and work hard.

  • ||

    In all of this, I'm stunned that I'm the only one who remembers Nancy Reagans "Just say No" campaign, complete with little buttons issued to schools.

  • ||

    Only one person got it right in this thread. It's not that the speech itself is controversial, unless you object to investing efforts in academics and giving of self in service of community in a voluntary manner. It's the "lesson plan" that accompanied it that was generated by the Department of Education (headed by Arne Duncan) that was to guide the "thinking process" of the students.

    This "lesson plan"; administered by a very Obama-friendly group (the Public School Teachers and thier Union) most likley would become the Propaganda tool. In my travels through Public Schools in New York State, I saw many a life-sized cardboard cutout or poster of Obama in the first quarter of 2009. I did not see similar "artwork" regarding Bush in the first quarter of 2005; nor do I recall seeing life size cutouts or posters of McCain in the 3rd or 4th quarter of 2008.

    I, for one, do not harbor any delusions regarding the politics of the Public Teacher's Unions. What I do object to is that they are extremely reluctant to let this "crisis" go unused to propagandize a message, rather than teach critical thinking skills or, at a minimum, exercise a political neutrality in delivering educational materials.

    They should not act like wounded children when parents with well-developed critical thinking skills object to such a plan.

  • ||

    Yet another depressing reminder example of how insane and obstructionist the right has become in our country.

  • Jonathan Sinclair||

    alan, that was pretty.

    I don't see how it explains away the fact that many parents do not take enough responsibility for what their kids are doing and learning. I'm not an expert but I'm married to a teacher with teacher friends and they ALL (100%) say the same thing. If parents were saying all the things they president is saying in his speech the speech would not need to be made and parents could spend the time complaining actually teaching and giving instruction.

    The speech doesn't give children roles in society. It just motivates them to be successful in whatever field they choose and tells them they need an education. Surely this is useful outside your mindless automaton construct.

  • Jonathan Sinclair||

    Dear hmm,

    "Um, national debt? Someone is screwing Timmy. It' either the local priest or the government."

    This is why you'll never be my financial advisor (no offense). Any good investor knows that there is good debt and bad debt. Good debt is reinvesting in your country (making you money later). Bad debt is using trillions of tax dollars to invest in other countries. We don't want to talk about that though. Let's not talk about how certain people were giving some of our best jobs away and the current administration put in more rules to keep them here. That'd just be tacky and off topic.

    "Presidents fix economies, teach generations, and create jobs? Silly me."

    That is exactly the point I was making, silly you. That's why I said "when it will take much more than..."

  • Hugh Jass||

    You left out TARP and all of the money that went to saving AIG and all of the failed banks and all of the individuals that were rewarded for their "mistakes" at those institutions, and centered your comment on individuals and labor unions.



    AIG and the banks were a Bush/Paulson initiative and while Obama must take some of the blame since he supported it as a Senator his responsibility is merely that he extended such nonsense to the Unions and failed speculators.

    One is not necessarily excusing the AIG/Goldman Sachs etc bullshit if one pins on Obama those things that are exclusively his.

    Yes, there's a bad smell to all the crap each party does on its own but to get areal stink you need bipartisanSHIT.

  • ||

    Well, now that we've finally solved all of our other social and economic problems we can turn our attention to complete moral catastrophies such as this.

  • Jonathan Sinclair||

    @aelhues


    ahhh yes... the middle of the road rep supporter who doesn't support everything his party does and expects everyone to know about every call and letter he's personally been responsible for.

    Pretend I wasn't talking to you. If it helps, I really wasn't talking to you unless you are one of those "adults" who "forgot who this speech was for". Way to include yourself.

    But I'm the delusional one...

  • ||

    speech would not need to be made

    Who are you, or the president to say whether I am doing a good enough job of encouraging my kids towards success? Should that not be up to me, or possibly between me and my kids teachers? This speech doesn't need to be made because our president is not our guide, our coach, our father, or really a figure of authority in our personal lives at all. We are individually responsible for our successes and failures, not the president. My children are my responsibility, and the more government tries to take that role for other supposed irresponsible parents, the more those parents are led to believe that it isn't their responsibility. How in the world do you think you can fix the problem of lack of parent involvement, when you keep doing everything for them? Ridiculous.

  • The Wine Commonsewer (TWC)||

    I thought about keeping the kids home today but decided to use the opportunity to remind them that politicians are venal, shallow, and self-serving.

    I think it bothers me more that when I offered my migraine-prone son a few Motrin to take with him he recoiled in horror admonishing me that he could get expelled and reminding me that the school has random drug searches that sometimes use trained dogs.

  • IceTrey||

    "Do they think he's going to beam subliminal socialist messages into the children's heads?"

    YES!!! It's well known Obama uses neuro-linguistic programming and mass hypnosis techniques when he speaks. Remember the whole "a light will shine down and you will have to vote for Obama" episode.

  • Tony||

    There's a substantial difference between having healthy skepticism of the president and being hysterical and insane and worrying about him indoctrinating the children into marxism.

    It seems to me that anyone, the president included, is entitled to trust if they earn it. Simply being opposed to everything every president does because of fear of the oppressive state only creates a false equivalence and gives a pass to those presidents who actually do abuse their power. And if you cry wolf constantly about everything the president does you deserve to look as foolish as you do.

  • ||

    Let me weigh in as a parent of two school-age children. I've got no (major) beef with the president - any president - giving the kids a little "stay in school, work hard" boilerplate. Like others have said, I have concerns over the lesson plan and its "go tell people to help the president" sections. Even with that removed, my complaint is less with the president beaming himself into to my kids classrooms' than with the impact afterwards. Both of my kids go to public school, and you can wander through the teachers parking lot and see endless "O and Joe in 08" bumperstickers, replacing the "Give me a president I want to salute with more than one finger" witticisms of the past several years. We had a local school board member quoted in the local paper (St Pete Times) as saying they couldn't stand Bush and wanted to puke everytime they heard him speak.

    We walked my younger son to his first day of class a couple of weeks ago (Florida, we start early) and his teacher had a big picture of Obama prominently placed on her wall. "So? It's just a picture of the president, what's your problem with that?", I hear you say. Yes, but four years ago my older son had the same teacher in the same classroom, and you know how this story ends - no picture of the current president in this teacher's classroom in 2005.

    Lastly, on inauguration day this year, our elementary school - our public elementary school - had a message on its electronic marquee, which usually displays "PTA Mtg Monday 8PM" type stuff. That day's message, of which I took a picture for posterity, says "We have a new President! Obama! Hallelujah!"

    Regardless of what insipid nothings Obama (or any other president) would deliver in this type of speech, my concerns are the post-speech enviornment that these teachers, and these schools are going to deliver. There IS going to be an indoctrination, and that is what worries me, even if Obama is completely innocent of directly trying to indoctrinate my kids.

  • ||

    This is the stupidest controversy of all surrounding President Obama. Past presidents going back as far as I can remember have called on citizens to help their country. Is it so terrible for Obama to try to inspire children to set goals and strive for achievement? As far as how many times he referred himself (I, me) he is using his own life as an example. Obviously the people who are objecting to this didn't learn simple reading comprehension when they were in school. Is it that they are so busy trying to read between the lines or are they so numbed buy the far right radicals that object to ANYTHING that comes from President Obama that they have lost the ability to think and reason for themselves? I know the lesson plan that has been removed was the root of the protest but come on folks, all he was wanting them to do was write down their goals and later see if they achieved them. Motivational speakers have been teaching that for many years. I see nothing wrong with the speech before or after the revisions.

  • Floyd Flanders||

    "It's the "lesson plan" that accompanied it that was generated by the Department of Education (headed by Arne Duncan) that was to guide the "thinking process" of the students."
    =========

    I read the whole lesson plan and there was nothing at all objectionable in it. In fact, the plan seemed to be geared towards getting kids to think critically about the speech.

    +++++++++++++


    "This "lesson plan"; administered by a very Obama-friendly group (the Public School Teachers and thier Union) most likley would become the Propaganda tool.
    =========================

    Actually, it came from the Dept of Education. And it contained no propaganda whatsoever.
    +++++++++++++++

    In my travels through Public Schools in New York State, I saw many a life-sized cardboard cutout or poster of Obama in the first quarter of 2009. I did not see similar "artwork" regarding Bush in the first quarter of 2005; nor do I recall seeing life size cutouts or posters of McCain in the 3rd or 4th quarter of 2008.
    ========================
    Why would there be cutouts of McCain? He was never the President nor was he connected to NY state at all. Obama is the President thus he gets artwork. When I was a kid I remember seeing pictures of Nixon and Ford and Carter and Reagan.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    What I do object to is that they are extremely reluctant to let this "crisis" go unused to propagandize a message, rather than teach critical thinking skills or, at a minimum, exercise a political neutrality in delivering educational materials.
    ======================

    Which leads me to believe that you didn't even read the lesson plan. It is politically neutral and does stress critical thinking skills.

    Sorry but you are one of the irrational fearmongers that many of us are laughing at.

  • Jonathan Sinclair||

    @aelhues

    again... person who wishes to include themselves to feel persecuted. When did I say you WEREN'T? Why is this all about YOU? Are YOU every American? Does your style of parenting represent and reflect 100% of America?

    If it does then yes you aren't doing a good enough job, clearly, if we're looking at how America ranks in education. So yes... if you simply MUST include yourself then it is these statistics that say this about you.

    How does this speech or any others KEEP YOU from doing any motivational speeches yourself? Many kids have role models already. I remember when I was growing up and many of those role models were Michael Jordan or some other entertainer. And they (those who cared to) said the same type of things, telling children to do their best in school, stay away from drugs, etc. Did Michael Jordan keep you from being a role model to your children? I don't think so. But people paid millions for his influence.

  • ||

    I'm no middle of the road rep supporter. I voice my concerns when I have them, regardless of who caused the problem. I would likely consider myself extreme, in that I actually think we should maintain constitutional restrictions on our government. But then, that wasn't the point at all.

    You, Sinclair, implied that we were complaining about this issue just because he's a Democrat, or just because we don't like the President. I imagine in a small number of cases that may be true. However there is a legitimate complaint to be made here. It centers around what the presidents role should be, whether this is worth the time and resources, what precedent this sets, and even whether it's legal. You railed against what to my understanding was in imaginary foe, with your only real point being that this speech is somehow beneficial and necessary. I would argue that it is neither.

  • Anonymous||

    Ugh, it smells like sulphur and ass in here. If I open a window, does that let more commies in, or do they start leaving?

    I feel like I'm in Joe Biden's pants, but that he's walking through a crowd of union thugs.

  • Jonathan Sinclair||

    @aelhues

    Now you're complaining that Obama has a voice and that he's trying to use his influence positively to help children. CALL THE POLICE! Send out an APB on all role models! Are you serious?

    I said this would not be necessary if parents were doing what they needed to do to keep their kids in school and being successful. What are you afraid of? Obama being more influential on your kids than you? If that happens doesn't it mean that you failed as a parent?

    No one can or will ever have more of an impact on my children than my wife and I. So why complain? No one, including Obama, said your parents are not your responsibility. What I'm saying is if parents were successfully motivating their kids in the home this would not be necessary to "help" them do. It doesn't mean you're not allowed to do it yourself. Sheesh.

  • Jonathan Sinclair||

    I would have gladly done a homework project about how I could help G. Bush even though I wasn't republican. I would have just told him a bunch of stuff he would have ignored. But I would see as an opportunity to practice involvement in the DEMOCRATIC process, not cheer lead whoever the current president happens to be.

    But since that's what SOME people do when the president is a member of their own party I guess that's what everyone else has to be thinking too.

  • prof grip||

    Somehow I get the feeling I am in Bizarro world. Only in Bizarro wolrd could the President of the United States give a speech to the nation's kids and be accused of trying to indoctrinate them with socialism.

    Libertarians, I used to at least respect your independence, but now most of you have become card carrying members of the wing nut branch of the republican party.

    As someone mentioned earlier, did any of you object to the "Just Say No" program? I doubt it.

    Look, this is foolishness and it does indeed seem to be the silly season. If you are going to object to Obama's agenda because you have real ideological differences then so be it. But, don't become a wingnut and oppose him for telling our kids to mind their teacher's and parent's, do their homework, don't cut class, and work hard.

    Again, this kind of silliness reminds me of the whole birther, deather, and all the other dumb stuff that has come out to make Obama seem illegitimate to be President. I for a lot of you it has more to do with his race than with his policies.

    And finally, as I have said before libertarians. Someone please explain to me or give me an example of where libertariansm is thiving and working in a society. To this day, I have never had anyone give me an example of libertarian ideas being utilized or working. You know why? Because it's magical thinking that is so far removed from reality that it's like believing in fairies and dragons. It is the "Lord of the Flies" type of existence that no one in their right mind would want.

    So, quit making silly complaints about the government and thinking that every man is an island. Quit thinking that the free market is the closet thing to godliness. It is human nature to construct hierarchies in the form of government to preserv social order and stability. Grow up...

    prof grip

  • Jonathan Sinclair||

    @aelhues

    "However there is a legitimate complaint to be made here. It centers around what the presidents role should be, whether this is worth the time and resources, what precedent this sets, and even whether it's legal."

    Oh and the "President's Fitness Challenge" is evil because it encouraged children to be in better shape and put more pressure on PE teachers. This must have been indoctrination to prepare children to be physically fit for armed service. And we didn't need it since we had recess. It's a good thing that plot was foiled by the discontinuation of PE and recess. Who cares if American's children are overweight and unhealthy. It's every parent's responsibility.

  • ||

    People paid millions to Michael Jordan of their own free will, not because he decided he had something that the children must hear.


    Why is it that you keep adding to what I'm saying? Where did I indicate that I felt persecuted? Where did I imply that it is all about me? I only referred to myself as an example, the one that I can vouch for. It is about freedom and personal responsibility, not about Obama.

    Clearly I don't represent all of America. However, my point was that if I understand you correctly, you seem to be perfectly comfortable with central government caring for us, supporting us, and making sure that we all grow up to be good citizens. I'd prefer that they stay the hell out of it, and let parents, family, friends and communities decide. Keep the decisions about my child's education to the lowest level, not the highest. I prefer more personal, not more national.

    I simply don't like anyone mandating that the children of this nation see any one specific message, no matter how innocuous.

    For the record, my kids are in school today, and haven't opted out of anything. When I get home today, we will discuss the day as usual, and address any questions or issues that arose.

  • Lester Hunt||

    The biggest lesson here is just how alienated from Obama a lot of people are. "Stay away from my kid, you creep!"

  • ||

    So, I'll get it out of the way, and point out that I am in favor of eliminating the DoE. It is my opinion that if the people of a state wish to have public schools that they should do so, as long as their constitution allows for it, unlike the US constitution in regards to the Federal government. So, yes, I am opposed to a mandatory program like the presidents fitness challenge. However, I wouldn't have any issue whatsoever, if a president wished, with a fitness standard program that was voluntary. Likewise, I wouldn't have a problem at all with a president putting together a speech, on TV or the internet, and encouraging parents to show it to their kids. I'd likely even do so, obviously if it seemed of value.

    In case you missed it, it's that I don't like mandatory national, one size fits all programs.

    Oh, and my point about MJ vs. Obama was that MJ was given the platform by people who chose to give it to him. Neither my kids nor I gave Obama a platform to be a role model to my them.

  • Floyd Flanders||

    Obama's speech was never mandatory.

  • ||

    "And finally, as I have said before libertarians. Someone please explain to me or give me an example of where libertariansm is thiving and working in a society. To this day, I have never had anyone give me an example of libertarian ideas being utilized or working. You know why? Because it's magical thinking that is so far removed from reality that it's like believing in fairies and dragons."

    A variety of argumentum ad populum. I'm sure there's a more specific version for this case, but I'm not a logician. Ultimately, if I haven't seen it, it doesn't exist (and couldn't exist). You are the equivalent of a child closing his eyes and pretending that the whole world doesn't exist because you don't see it. My son is going through this stage, so it's cute, but I know that it's just a stage that I know he'll progress through. I hope do you, as well.

  • ||

    "However, I wouldn't have any issue whatsoever, if a president wished, with a fitness standard program that was voluntary. Likewise, I wouldn't have a problem at all with a president putting together a speech, on TV or the internet, and encouraging parents to show it to their kids. I'd likely even do so, obviously if it seemed of value."

    You'd still be forcing the public to pay for such a program. This is one reason why it's of the best policy to, as much as possible, leave decisions to individual consumers. They know their wants and can allocate them a lot more appropriately than someone who has never met them or the people administering services.

  • Greg||

    >>>>"Libertarians, I used to at least respect your independence, but now most of you have become card carrying members of the wing nut branch of the republican party.

    As someone mentioned earlier, did any of you object to the "Just Say No" program? I doubt it."
    -------------
    Wait, so have you ever known ANY drug war proponents that would describe themselves as libertarian then?

  • ||

    Danny, good point. I agree. The feds have no business in education.

  • ||

    Oops, that wasn't clear at all, since you made more than one point.

    I was referring to the point you made after quoting me.

  • ||

    To those who just spent any amount of time over 35 seconds pondering this issue, wake the fuck up. Move on. Non-issue.

    NEXT!

  • ||

    Shorter F**knuts:

    I know what's important, and anybody who doesn't heed my advice is a moron.

    Whew, did I make it?

  • ||

    Though I do admire Mr. McGruff's brevity, I did shorten his OP at least a little.

  • ||

    And you did an excellent job!

  • Craig||

    Taxpayer funded and government mandated education is a waste of time, money, and office space. Anyone who sends their kids to a government indoctrination center deserves to have their kids indoctrinated.

  • ReaganDidIt!||

    Reagan did it! Reagan did it!

    If Reagan stripped down naked and ran into a dojo challenging them all to a fight would you do it?

    If Reagan put on a monkey suit and runs around the city at night would you do it?

    If Reagan put on armor and got shot in the chest by a crossbow would you do it?

    If Reagan dresses up as the devil and runs around the street of LA holding a sign that says, "Keep God out of California" would you do it?

    If Reagan tried to eat 50 eggs in one hour without puking would you do it?

    JeezLuweez liberals can't get enough of Ronnie.

  • ||

    Remember, ReaganDidIt!, all of this is just a one way street, but it goes both ways (quite a paradox, I know). Democrats do it to Republicans; Republicans do it to Democrats; and those of us on the sidelines laugh at their stupidity but hang our heads because so few seem to get it, evidenced by our general lack of influence.

  • ||

    did any of you object to the "Just Say No" program? I doubt it.

    Maybe you're not aware that we're on the "Just Say Yes" team. We tend not to like it when government tells us what to do by way of force, for which "Just Say No" was a soft front.

  • ||

    If Reagan stripped down naked and ran into a dojo challenging them all to a fight would you do it?

    Hmm...that's a tough one, maybe.

    If Reagan put on a monkey suit and runs around the city at night would you do it?

    Sure, sounds like fun.

    If Reagan put on armor and got shot in the chest by a crossbow would you do it?

    Absolutely, as long as he came away unscathed of course.

    If Reagan dresses up as the devil and runs around the street of LA holding a sign that says, "Keep God out of California" would you do it?

    Sure, then I'd head back to MO, and go to church.

    If Reagan tried to eat 50 eggs in one hour without puking would you do it?

    Nah, I tried to drink a gallon of milk in an hour without puking, and didn't make it.

  • alan||

    Good answers!

    That was me with the 'Reagan did it'. I started out a sketch of Reagan in the middle of a bunch of angry guys in Bruce Lee stances wearing nothing but a pair of nun-chucks, but I didn't get very far before being called out of town Sunday. May get to it again if I have several hours to spare later on in the week if anyone is interested.

  • Jonathan Sinclair||

    @aelhues

    people also paid millions to Barack Obama's campaign to elect him into office of their own free will. Neither you or I paid either MJ or BO. The difference seems to exist more in your own head.

    And just as MJ speaks "as a role model" Barack Obama is well aware that he is also a role model for many children; especially those who previously did not have a role model of this type before (non-entertainer). So just because you don't like it there are tons of children out there, some that I know personally, who will benefit from Barack's message whether I like him personally or not. Not wishing to have a positive message coming from washington just because you don't like "national" level things is over doing it imo. Why not also discontinue the national army?

    There's really little difference between the national level and the state level. Have you ever had your governor over to dinner? Does he know what's best for your children? It isn't more personal at all unless you think that children of different states are different from each other and same within that state. However, I find it ridiculous.

  • prof grip||

    Danny:

    "A variety of argumentum ad populum. I'm sure there's a more specific version for this case, but I'm not a logician. Ultimately, if I haven't seen it, it doesn't exist (and couldn't exist). You are the equivalent of a child closing his eyes and pretending that the whole world doesn't exist because you don't see it. My son is going through this stage, so it's cute, but I know that it's just a stage that I know he'll progress through. I hope do you, as well."

    Uhh, Danny boy you didn't answer my challenge. Again, all you nutjobs do is talk around the points I make with obscure and arcane observations.

    Again, I ask, should there be no government? And if not, how should people organize themselves to achieve individual goals? No one can achieve individual goals without the consent implied or explicit of others. And your failure to understand this point is why your views are an example of majical thinking.

    President Obama has a obligation to speak to the kids because he is the President of the United States. And in that role he is the leader of this country. If your kid attends a public school then he should watch the broadcast. If you don't want him to then home school him or her. It really is that simple. The Presidency is a public office that administers to the public domain where public schools reside. Get the point?

    prof grip

  • Anonymous||

    Why not also discontinue the national army?

    Because the federal government fought a war to prevent State sovereignty in order to maintain control?

  • ||

    Gingrich tweeted that he was fine with the speech.

    Whatever Gingrich and Obama agree on must be much worse than I thought.

    To this day, I have never had anyone give me an example of libertarian ideas being utilized or working

    It was called the US Constitution. It worked great until collectivists managed to neuter it.

    .You know why?

    Yep, because statist tools like you continually buy the myth that an empowered government would ever be used to your benefit.

    Did you notice all the spending that didn't go to big corporations recently? Nor did I.

    Instead the government you love so well has continually acted against your interests in favor of the interests of the rich who gain an ever increasing stranglehold over the government.

    The answer is obviously that government needs more power. Because the monied interests will surely use government to our betterment this time.

  • Anonymous||

    And in that role he is the leader of this country.

    Fuck you. The office is Executive of the federal government, and representative (of the States, since State governments are still allowed decide how to portion electors).

    The European monarchist cum socialist-government worship tires.

  • Jonathan Sinclair||

    @aelhues

    So, yes, I am opposed to a mandatory program like the presidents fitness challenge. However, I wouldn't have any issue whatsoever, if a president wished, with a fitness standard program that was voluntary. Likewise, I wouldn't have a problem at all with a president putting together a speech, on TV or the internet, and encouraging parents to show it to their kids. I'd likely even do so, obviously if it seemed of value.


    My point earlier, which still stands, is that if parents across the nation took responsibility the government wouldn't even get the chance to and there would be no government interference to debate. MY CHILDREN will be unaffected by these things since we plan to home school. See... that's what you do when you don't want the government involved. Education is state (government) run. Period. We are taking ultimate responsibility for our own children by educating them ourselves. So your perception of my 'comfort level' is based on what?

    My children will not end up in jail so should there not be jails because it is every parent's responsibility to keep their kids out of them? That would be stupid. Jails are for other people's kids. Just don't let yourself become those other people. Again, Obama's message would not be necessary if things were not as they are today. And kids aren't failing and dropping out because their parents were forced to take no active part in their children's education. It's because they haven't been doing a good enough job on their own. Who do we blame for this? Obama? Instead of the initials OB it should be BO for "blame obama". It's immature and ignorant. Be responsible for your own children but don't think that just because you don't think YOUR child needs something that millions of others do not. There are thousands of kids who don't have fathers or male of authority in their lives that they look up to who will tell them to do good in school. Have you devoted even a second of your argument to them? Or is this all about you and your family?

  • Jonathan Sinclair||

    "Because the federal government fought a war to prevent State sovereignty in order to maintain control?" -anonymous

    and no states fought in that? Where did they get the soldiers? Canada?

  • ||

    What a bunch of alarmist nonsense.

    This issue, this story, this comment: All a huge waste of time.

  • alan||


    President Obama has a obligation to speak to the kids because he is the President of the United States. And in that role he is the leader of this country. If your kid attends a public school then he should watch the broadcast. If you don't want him to then home school him or her. It really is that simple. The Presidency is a public office that administers to the public domain where public schools reside. Get the point?


    Not really an accurate representation of the civics of this nation. I have to wonder, did you take your courses somewhere else? I suggest brushing up on article two of the US Constitution and a dictionary can be useful as well, 'enumerated' seems to be the word least understood.

  • Anonymous||

    and no states fought in that?

    So one person fights another person for the collective's right to cut off everyone's fingers. Sounds like democracy to me.

  • ||

    Jesse will kindly point to Reason mag's protest when shrub was doing the same thing.

    Or is Reason led around by these partisan talking points too?

    I agree that the president is noone to be worshipped, and kids are regularly indoctrinated, which is a major problem.

    How about getting that God Damned flag worship, the "pledge of allegiance" kicked out of public schools? Why are the nation's children instructed to "pledge allegiance" to the flag? Why is that even constitutional: compulsory speech?

    I personally don't give a rat's ass about this speech, as it is meaningless blather. I do care about Obama's other grand plans for forcing the nation's school children into servitude in order to graduate. That is a far more frightening agenda that this nonsense discussion distracts from.

  • Anonymous||

    Why is that even constitutional: compulsory speech?

    Public school, in which this might be an issue, isn't compulsory; but state-required schooling and theft of monies to support public school are.

    But honestly, I don't think calling public schools too patriotic has been a problem for a very long time. Now, with the carboard cutouts and teevee speeches and black, urban, state-funded educator fawning over fearless leader, a sick kind of nationalism might be a problem, wherein the state is mother and father and solver of all problems. I'm sure any textbook could show ample bias for this view. After all, "reality has a liberal bias".

  • ||

    Y'know, not only am I an opponent of the government telling me to "Just say No".

    I would also be an opponent of them telling me to "Just say Yes!"

    It's amazing just how many drive-bys who come here to burn strawmen don't seem to understand that libertarians aren't Republicans.

  • ||

    I stopped reading Reason a year ago. There is plenty to criticize Obama about, but Reason Magazine seems to be hopping on the nutbag bandwagon. This article by Mr. Walker is one example.

  • Anonymous||

    Reason?!

    Too easy. But I am a little parched... *clink*

  • Obama Youth||

    Sieg Heil!

  • Jonathan Sinclair||

    So one person fights another person for the collective's right to cut off everyone's fingers. Sounds like democracy to me.


    democracy = mob rule, so yes.

  • CH||

    Kids tune all this stuff out anyway. I remember in kindergarten when the DARE officer came in and said: "take just one puff from a marijuana cigarette, and you're addicted for life." I found out in roughly 4th grade that wasn't true (I wasn't smoking pot in 4th grade, my friend's older brother told me it wasn't true) and I realized school was nothing more than a group of assholes who lied to children for money.

    Government is nothing more than a group of assholes who lie to voters for money. Business is nothing more than a group of assholes who lie to consumers for money.

    That's the only speech that will ever resonate with children, because they immediately recognize it as the truth.

  • Anonymous||

    Business is nothing more than a group of assholes who lie to consumers for money.



    The critical difference that (a) businesses aren't coercive on their own, and (b) the customer isn't necessarily the consumer, and everybody knows this.

  • mattski||

    Talk about a tempest in a teapot! Does this issue really merit even 1% of the attention it's received? Of course not.

    The Republicans are using this as another personal attack against a popular President whose party controls Congress. These sorts of stunts are their only way to stop the Democrats from steamrolling their agenda through.

    Media outlets that 'cover the scandal' are complicit in blocking progress. They are creating the news, not reporting it. Shame on the author for getting sucked in so completely by this stupidity. You call yourself a journalist after getting played like this? Embarrassing...

  • The Children\'s Story||

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZzNVx4ZN9A

    What's brainwashing? And what's the difference between "education" and "re-education"?

    The movie is from the 80's and has since disappeared. Therefore this copy which i got from Xenu TV is crappy, but it still sends a chill down my bones everytime i watch it.

    For the real cause for evil is not some Government - not even some evil totalitarian Government - but rather it is our own imperfections without which evil has nothing to use against us.

  • abercrombie milano||

    It is interesting and informative article. Thank you.

  • دردشة||

    Thanks for sharing the useful information.

  • شات بنت مصر||

    nice

  • nike shox||

    is good

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement