Tomorrow, September 8th, President Obama will address the school children in the U.S. Some people have decided to pull their children out of school that day, but I think that is going a bit too far. Is there a risk that Obama’s speech will turn the kids into modern-day brownshirts? I don’t think so.
I’m not concerned because I’m OK with the President addressing kids. I think it’s great to have the President urge the nation’s children to study and work hard to excel. Urging children to do their best is not a plank of the liberal or conservative platform. It’s an American position, and who could object to it?
Well, some parents are objecting. It’s become a bad habit in recent years. While President Bush was in office, many liberals had a knee-jerk objection to anything he did or said. It was so common that people had a name for it: Bush Derangement Syndrome, or BDS. Now that Obama is in office, I’m seeing a fair amount of ODS on the conservative side, and that is a shame.
I have read the prepared speech, and I don’t see anything in my quick read that makes me feel uneasy as a conservative. I do, however, have two problems with the speech. First, it clocks in at close to 2,500 words — maybe 20 minutes of speaking — and this is going to kindergarten kids? When talking to kids, shorter is better. My second problem with the speech comes from the way President Obama talks again and again about himself. Michelle Malkin did some analysis of the word frequency of the speech:
I’ve run the speech through a word frequency counter and found the following results:
- 56 iterations of “I”
- 19 iterations of “school”
- 10 iterations of “education”
- 8 iterations of “responsibility”
- 7 iterations of “country”
- 5 iterations each of “parents”, “teachers”
- 3 iterations of “nation”
In other words, Barack Obama referenced himself more than school, education, responsibility, country/nation, parents, and teachers combined. And to think that people accused Obama of self-promotion!
While I don’t have a problem with the speech, I was more concerned about the “how you can help Obama” education packet the Department of Education released before the speech. Before it was “fixed,” the packet suggested activities like encouraging kids to write letters to themselves about how they could help the President. Help the President? I’d be surprised if I hadn’t already seen how self-centered the speech was. Again, the speech is fine, but the accompanying packet from the Department of Education is not. This is the best write-up about one reason why it was a problem:
Christina Erland Culver, former deputy assistant secretary for education, said presidents have traditionally addressed classrooms on the first day of school, but the problem with the event was the accompanying materials from the Department of Education.
“That’s where they kind of got into a slippery spot. Federal statute denies any authority to the Department of Education to provide any kind of curriculum or anything that can be passed down to the state, and that’s part of the statute forming the Department of Education. So they kinda got themselves into this mess because they didn’t really understand some of the key legal roles or the dos and don’ts at the federal Department of Ed,” she said.