The ConWeb's Obama Speech Freak-Out
Putting hatred before the facts, ConWeb writers baselessly assumed that President Obama would indoctrinate students -- despite the fact that the speech's theme of encouragement was made clear from the beginning.
By Terry Krepel
You wouldn't think a speech by President Obama would be such a big deal. But he was making one to schoolchildren, and that sent the ConWeb into a paranoid frenzy.
The Sept. 8 speech by Obama sent the ConWeb into a serious freak-out of baseless speculation that Obama would somehow be indoctrinating students in socialism (or something), and every ConWeb outlet found a way to contribute:
Parents across the country are rebelling against plans by President Barack Obama to speak directly to their children through the classrooms of the nation's public schools without their presence, participation and approval.
As many parents are focused on back to school clothes and supplies, the royal Czar Czar prepares to circumvent parental authority and speak directly to our children in one week. What will he command?
-- "Mithridate Ombud," Sept. 2 NewsBusters post (emphasis in original)
Great news. Our leader will be addressing all schoolchildren on September 8th. And the Department of Education has helpfully prepared a menu of activities for the day. As you'll note above, 7-12th graders are to view quotations from Pres. Obama, discuss them, and strive to understand what "the president believes is important" for students to be successful in school.
-- Mark Finkelstein, Sept. 2 NewsBusters post
The Obama forces are getting desperate. They are using Saul Alinsky’s tactics for radicals against sincere Americans concerned with the direction in which Obama is taking the country.
-- Joseph Klein, Sept. 3 NewsReal post. Meanwhile, at the same time Klein was writing that post, the operator of NewsReal, David Horowitz, was using Alinskyite tactics to accuse Obama of ... using Alinskyite tactics. And he's soliciting money to publish "a new booklet" he's writing that he "must blanket on college campuses" -- that is, in Klein's words, exploit the children -- to do so.
Try as they might to portray the speech as a well-intentioned appeal to students to stay in school, study hard, and learn well, administration officials cannot avoid this central fact about the event - providing mass life-counseling to school kids is not what presidents are elected to do. So either the president does not understand what it means to be the nation's chief executive, or the speech should be viewed as a trial run for something else.
-- Washington Examiner, Sept. 4 editorial
Going unmentioned by all of these writers was the fact that President George H.W. Bush to issue a similar address in 1991, and that President George W. Bush to post a "teacher's guide" on the White House website aimed at helping students understand the "freedom timeline" and encouraged them to "explor[e] the biographies of the President, Mrs. Bush, Vice President, and Mrs. Cheney." Further, President Reagan spoke to a group of students in 1988. None of these writers were particularly alarmed by any possible indoctrination going on there.
Earning extra credit for paranoia was a Sept. 4 Newsmax column by Dan Mangru, a columnist for Newsmax's financial website. After initially claiming that he saw "nothing harmful " in what Obama was planning to say to students, Mangru quickly descends into that Obama might grade students on how they react to his speech, which quickly devolves into him asserting it to be fact:
What if these letters were required to be scanned into a central government database? What if the students were graded based on whether they helped Obama or not? Imagine if your child received a B instead of an A because he or she didn’t help out Obama enough.
By the end, Mangru is in full rant mode:
But to go after the children, there is something wrong with that on a very fundamental level. To go after young and impressionable minds and tell them that they have to be inspired by our President and accountable to the President, that just crosses the line.
Perhaps Mangru needs to stick to financial analysis.
WorldNetDaily endeavored to get a couple final freak-outs in on the day of Obama's speech. Joseph Farah wrote:
It's not safe to send your child to public school today.
Determined not to be outdone by even Farah, Janet Porter wrote:
America demanded a rewrite of Obama's speech he is to give to our children today. The indoctrination of the captive audience in public schools was going to be subjected to helping President Obama secure his radical agenda of government take over of health care but instead of recruiting "Obama Youth," with written pledges, that agenda has been thwarted for another more opportune time like when people aren't watching as closely.
Of course, there's absolutely no evidence that a previous version of Obama's speech ever existed, let alone that it was about "government take over of health care." Thus, Porter cannot credibly claim there was a "rewrite." (But then, Porter has numerous credibility problems.)
Brent Bozell's Sept. 8 column, appearing after the speech, condemned speech because, well, it was Obama giving it:
Why is this controversial? What is more American than having her president addressing the young? Reagan did it. So did Bush. The problem is Obama and his administration. There is always is a political agenda.
Bozell offers no evidence that Reagan's and Bush's speeches, unlike Obama's, had no political agenda. To the contrary, Reagan talked up tax cuts in his speech.
Bozell went on to conflate criticism of the overreaction of right-wingers like him to Obama's speech to attacks on all criticism of Obama, then denounced the very idea of public education: "It’s not insane to wonder why our schools should be directed by the government to discuss how the Dear Leader is inspiring the young, and how the Dear Leader can be helped."
A Sept. 11 WorldNetDaily column by Dan L. White similarly attacks the idea of public education, claiming that it allows the government to "control the minds of its citizens and thereby centralize power. And that's how Obama was able to give his speech to millions of captive young minds, subservient to the socialist institution, ready to be led by the master because of the centralized school system." As if homeschooling -- the "decentralized, individualized and maximized" ideal White presents -- isn't about a similar attempt to control the minds of children, except by parents.
Meanwhile, the ConWeb sought to find partisan intent in Obama's speech where there wasn't any. A Sept. 8 WND article was headlined, "Prez injects politics into school speech," but the article pointed out that Obama "stayed carefully in the encouraging mode during the broadcast portion of the speech" but brought up health care reform in "a conversation with students." WND's headline writer is apparently unclear on the difference between a speech and a conversation.
A Sept. 9 CNSNews.com article by Penny Starr similarly tried to find something wrong with Obama talking to students, expressing alarm that Obama "made a pitch for health care reform in a discussion with 40 freshmen." It wasn't until the 14th paragraph that Starr got around to mentioning that "Obama omitted any discussion of health care" during the broadcast speech.
So what have we learned from this little episode? That the ConWeb has no intention whatsoever to be fair to Obama, and that it will misrepresent his words and actions in order to destroy his administration and him personally.
ConWebWatch detailed at the outset of the Obama administration how WorldNetDaily was setting itself up to be "Obama Hate Central" -- which has proven itself to be all too true. The only surprise this time is that the rest of the ConWeb eagerly played along.