Obama Among The Schoolchildren. And Bush.


From Obama's prepared remarks today, to be delivered from Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia:

It's the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other. So today, I want to ask you, what's your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?  

Whole talk here. Should Obama invoke images of armed insurrection in a school setting? Isn't that supposed to be reserved for town hall meetings and right-wing jerkoffs? In any case, Obama's JKFesque invocation of national service bugs the hell out of me. I strongly suspect that none of the great movers and shakers at, say Facebook or the Twitter, or Apple or Microsoft, or whatever, ever seriously thought about what the president of the future was going to say about them. 

Via Drudge comes this Byron York piece in the Washington Examiner about the response to President George H.W. Bush talking to schoolkids in 1991. After noting the House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.), among others, denounced the speech, York reports:

Democrats did not stop with words. Rep. William Ford, then chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate the cost and legality of Bush's appearance. On October 17, 1991, Ford summoned then-Education Secretary Lamar Alexander and other top Bush administration officials to testify at a hearing devoted to the speech. "The hearing this morning is to really examine the expenditure of $26,750 of the Department of Education funds to produce and televise an appearance by President Bush at Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington, DC," Ford began. "As the chairman of the committee charged with the authorization and implementation of education programs, I am very much interested in the justification, rationale for giving the White House scarce education funds to produce a media event."

The GAO, alas, found that the expenditures were at least technically legal (however stupid and wasteful), thus paving the way for today's talk by Obama. The teachers union The National Edcuation Association also editorialized against the speech:

That didn't stop Democratic allies from taking their own shots at Bush. The National Education Association denounced the speech, saying it "cannot endorse a president who spends $26,000 of taxpayers' money on a staged media event at Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington, D.C.—while cutting school lunch funds for our neediest youngsters."

How times change! Just today, the head of the other big teachers union, the American Federation of Teachers, praised Obama's speech this morning on Morning Joe. Go figure. Whole York piece here.

I realize that I've got, er, an ideology and all, but is it just me and my fellow libertarians that find this sort of vacuous public circus a totally, er, vacuous and circus-y like spectacle? Whether it's the Dems or the Reps, I don't need or want politicians to be my kids' role models (goodnight wherever you are, Teddy Kennedy) any more than I want professional athletes to be. Thankfully, very few children grow up to be politicians or particularly influenced by them. Which is a good thing.

Reason's Jesse Walker on the speech we'll all forget around noon today.