Hey Pres'dent, Leave Them Kids Alone! "White House Withdraws Call for Students to 'Help' Obama"

Fox News reports that the Obama administration has pulled back from its frankly creepy plan to ask schoolkids to, you know, "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president."

President Obama's plan to inspire the nation's schoolchildren with a video address next week erupted into controversy Wednesday, forcing the White House to pull out its eraser and rewrite a government recommendation that teachers nationwide assign students a paper on how to "help the president," the Washington Times reported. 

Presidential aides acknowledged the White House helped the U.S. Education Department craft the proposal, which immediately was met by fierce criticism from Republicans and conservative organizations who accused Obama of trying to politicize the education system.

More here.

Two things to recall:

First, Candidate Obama, like Candidate McCain, made a big stink about "national service," "public service," and the like. Indeed, as senators, they pushed the Serve America Act, in which selfless volunteers would get paid by taxpayers to feel good about being paid volunteers. It's a bad idea, even in the abstract, for all the reasons listed here. If you want to serve "a cause greater than yourself," then invent the next personal computer or start a school that competes for students or run a charity that's actually a charity and not a covert middle-income household welfare program.

Second, recall this celeb-studded "I Serve" video, in which more stars than there are in heaven pledge to serve not simply the country but the particular president holding office. You don't have to be an Ayn Rand protagonist to agree it was disturbing when it came out in early 2009 and it's still disturbing now, especially as we're all asked to sacrifice some large portion of our future for goals that are from clear or far from worthy.

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.

  • anarch||

    "national service," "public service," and the like



    as in "male animals serve the females for breeding purposes."

  • _^___^_||

    This Administration is either clueless or nefarious. Take yer pick.*



    *I know, I know. Why can't it be both?

  • oh no not this again ||

    The hell, serving a cause is akin to busting unions? Frankly, this still reeks, swear if some form of this assignment hasn't been done a thousand times before. What a load of tripe, I guess it's in bad form to visit class rooms too.

  • The Pet Goat||

    Depends.

  • Xeones||

    Yo, fuck the Obama administration and their creepy-ass hands on approach to goddamn EVERYTHING.

  • Chinny Chin Chin||

    I've noticed over the past couple months that Alyssa Milano has suddenly become an outspoken voice for those that have no voice. She's all over the news due to her tireless work for those less fortunate than herself.

    I've been wondering why, but this video gives me the answer: she took The Pledge!

    It also makes me happier that Demi Moore is smiling more.

    Obama is inspirational!

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    :::blows whistle, throws flag.

    "Encroachment, on the federal government. 5 yard penalty. Remains first down."

  • anarch||

    Smiling more = soon to be a federal mandate.

  • Fluffy||

    Obviously there's a lot to be upset about in the world, but one bright spot is that "Service" rhetoric that would have been as unassailable as baseball and apple pie a few decades ago is now subject to universal scorn.

    That battle's over. I also don't see it having to be refought any time soon.

    Somewhere up there, on her perch in NonExistence, Rand is smiling down on us all.

  • anarch||

    'Smith!' screamed the shrewish voice from the telescreen. '6079 Smith W.! Yes, you! Bend lower, please! You can do better than that. You're not trying. Lower, please! That's better, comrade. Now stand at ease, the whole squad, and watch me.'

    A sudden hot sweat had broken out all over Winston's body. His face remained completely inscrutable. Never show dismay! Never show resentment! A single flicker of the eyes could give you away. He stood watching while the instructress raised her arms above her head and -- one could not say gracefully, but with remarkable neatness and efficiency -- bent over and tucked the first joint of her fingers under her toes.

    'There, comrades! That's how I want to see you doing it. Watch me again. I'm thirty-nine and I've had four children. Now look.' She bent over again. 'You see my knees aren't bent. You can all do it if you want to,' she added as she straightened herself up. 'Anyone under forty-five is perfectly capable of touching his toes. We don't all have the privilege of fighting in the front line, but at least we can all keep fit. Remember our boys on the Malabar front! And the sailors in the Floating Fortresses! Just think what they have to put up with. Now try again. That's better, comrade, that's much better,' she added encouragingly as Winston, with a violent lunge, succeeded in touching his toes with knees unbent, for the first time in several years.

  • Anonymous||

    anarch, stop yelling. I swear, your protests are simply Orwellian.

  • anon.||

    Has anyone thought of following up with the celebrities who made measurable promises? Did that one get rid of his "obnoxious car" and get a hybrid? Has that other one made any progress on planting 500 trees?

  • anarch||

    made any progress on planting 500 trees letting a thousand flowers bloom?



    Rehabilitated that for you.

  • ||

    Nick G:

    fine post, but please get out your eraser and rewrite that last sentence.

  • Nick G\'s muse||

    coercion bad

  • Balloon Maker||

    When David Arquette and Punky Brewster talk, I listen.

  • ||

    and Punky Brewster talk, I listen.

    Even after the breast reduction surgery? :-)

  • ||

    Well, if all this turns out to be is a inspirational speech on staying in school, etc. it is still a waste of money. This is really more for the parents than it is for the kids.

  • Jordan||

    ...a government recommendation that teachers nationwide assign students a paper on how to "help the president,"



    Holy shit that's creepy. Yet another in a mile long list of reasons the government shouldn't be anywhere near education.

  • ||

    Liberals are all saying, he's not going to brainwash your kids you silly paranoid nutjobs! Obviously they completely miss the point. This sets a precedent. It encroaches on our freedoms a little more. It is to glorify the him, not the country. Mostly it does nothing whatsoever except waste our money, our kids time, and widen the philosophical gap between those for liberty, and those for government care.

  • Anonymous||

    It encroaches on our freedoms a little more. It is to glorify the him, not the country. Mostly it does nothing whatsoever except waste our money, our kids time, and widen the philosophical gap between those for liberty, and those for government care.

    Yes, but -- just in case you missed it -- that's not only setting a precedent. That's also brainwashing your kids (and any fruit loops at hand, like classroom-sitters and actors).

  • ||

    The brain washing comes daily. The short speech by the president is hardly even worth mentioning on that front.

  • Tomcat1066||

    ...a government recommendation that teachers nationwide assign students a paper on how to "help the president,"

    My son's paper:

    "Show him the door and not just help him, but all of America."

  • creech||

    It would be worth it just to see the reaction if this were President Sarah Palin making the speech and request.

  • ||

    Heh, I can't even imagine the outrage Palin would cause. As much as I would enjoy seeing so many lefties getting completely bent out of shape, I would oppose such a thing right along with them.

  • Fluffy||

    Actually, the lefties are a little weepy about the cancellation of this event, because they can't understand why anyone would object to having the President speak to schoolchildren.

    I can kind of understand this, because they have a huge blind spot here.

    To them, a speech telling children to dedicate themselves to selfless service to the community is noncontroversial. To them, there is no difference between such a speech and a speech promoting literacy, or encouraging kids to study hard, or reading "My Pet Goat" to them. And as a result they feel really put upon here.

    The leftists think that we all agree on a subject where we don't all agree. Because they don't see the lack of agreement, they don't understand why we see this event as described in its accompanying literature as ideological and as indoctrination.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    I guess there wasn't time or budget enough to get all the school uniforms made before the event. Brown polyester is hard to come by these days.

  • ||

    Fluffy, I agree with your assessment. I have friends that consider it their Christian and civic duty to support increased taxation for welfare, and schools, and healthcare etc.. They don't understand why I don't agree. They just can't seem to grasp that giving to those less fortunate, is much more effective, efficient, and meaningful, when done voluntarily. They can't understand why I don't care about the poor, when I do. They completely confuse volunteering public money with volunteering their own. I appeal to a wide range of arguments, and they just can't grasp them. It's frustrating, and sickening.

    In this specific issue, it's more that they appeal to how innocuous the speech is alleged to be. But like I said earlier, that isn't the point. It's the precedent, and the opportunity for left leaning teachers to push the issue.

    The blind spot is rather expansive in these areas.

  • JB||

    Fuck the statist public schools. Fuck Obama. And fuck the National Socialist Democrats.

  • Rhywun||

    They can't understand why I don't care about the poor, when I do.

    But you're supposed to loudly profess your care for the poor at every opportunity, and within earshot of as many people as possible. C'mon, get with the program.

  • oh no not this again||

    Jb, you must be real retarded to compare the dems to national socialists. I find it hard to believe folks round here wouldn't assume the republicans wouldn't play the same game but with different phrasing. It's a paper, snd I bet there are alternative topics for the oarents who object. Man the paranoia is thick today, but it's from faux so it's hyped.

  • ||

    Man the paranoia is thick today, but it's from faux so it's hyped.

    Huh? "It's from faux"? Are you using the English language here?

  • oh no not that idiot again||

    I must be a real retard not to see the similarities in the mix of Nationalist appeals to community, and Socialist appeals to redistribution, and dependence on Fascist style cartels in the current political mainstream to past incarnations of illiberal regimes.

    I know the people around here would not defend a Republican who tried this shit, but I'm a dipshit, so I will accuse you of being in the GOP pocket anyway.

    It's just a paper, but the waste of time, resources and precedent it sets it astoundingly bad for everyone, but I will give it a weak defense by pointing out, ' snd I bet there are alternative topics for the oarents who object..', whatever the fuck that means. Though, I'm sure it is pretty good, and it puts you in your place because it came out of my ass.

    Man, why can't you people accept that Obama is our Savior, for once, believe the hype!

  • ||

    To them, there is no difference between such a speech and a speech promoting literacy, or encouraging kids to study hard, or reading "My Pet Goat" to them.

    It's "The Pet Goat". "My Pet Goat" is an extreme porno movie, utterly inappropriate for children (if indeed it is appropriate for anyone).

  • oh no not this again||

    This has nothing to do with saviors or star worship. It's just another serving of fear and hate or something so stupid as an opinion paper. I'm sorry you and others here like you need an enemy, but if you do need one, you should do better than a squishy president. Reason must be scared of even the slightest step in a left leaning direction cause they keep harping on garbage like this. People are already brainwashed, and it wasn't from the left.

  • anarch\'s translation services||

    @ Huh:

    The first link in the article goes to Fox News, which its critics lampoon as "faux" - ie, French language for "false."

  • anarch||

    Fluffy and aelhues: Well roared, Lions.

    The term bien-pensant to describe your opposition comes distressingly to mind. Wiktionary elegantly amplifies: "Someone who accepts and or espouses a fashionable idea after it has been established and maintains it without a great amount of critical thought."

    As has been said here before, compulsory virtue is no virtue at all.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    That "pledge" video is sickening, and almost pornographic in a way. REAL people don't pledge allegiance to a president.

  • Mark||

    I pledge....

    To NOT drink the fucking koolaid!

  • Anonymous||

    bien-pensant

    French for goodthought?

    So 1984 was about contemporary France after all.

  • ||

    And fuck Demi Moore too. No, get head first...

GET REASON MAGAZINE

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

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement