President indoctrinates students!

The shocking details:

President George H.W. Bush gave an address to schools nationwide in 1991, from a junior high school in Washington, D.C. News reports from the time said the White House hoped that the address would be shown at schools nationwide, and Bush began his remarks by saying he was talking to “millions” of students “in classrooms all across the country.”
You can read Bush’s complete remarks via the Web site of his presidential library. Here’s an excerpt:
“When it comes to your own education, what I’m saying is take control. Don’t say school is boring and blame it on your teachers. Make your teachers work hard. Tell them you want a first-class education. Tell them that you’re here to learn. Block out the kids who think it’s not cool to be smart. I can’t understand for the life of me what’s so great about being stupid. …
“If you don’t work hard, who gets hurt? If you cheat, who pays the price? If you cut corners, if you hunt for the easy A, who comes up short? Easy answer to that one: You do. You’re in control, but you are not alone. People want you to succeed. They want to help you succeed.”
The presidential library noted that the president spoke at 12:15 p.m. and that his remarks were “broadcast live by the Cable News Network, the Public Broadcasting System, the Mutual Broadcasting System, and the NBC radio network.”
You may have guessed this already, but news reports from the time indicate that Democrats criticized Bush for giving the speech.

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25 thoughts on “President indoctrinates students!

  1. Wow! Welcome back Damian!
    Hey Dan, you too! Nearly sundown, gotta run.
    [Man, how I missed telling Darla and Mr. Dog to scr^w-off.]
    :-)~

  2. Welcome back, Damian! I see Ran and Dan have already found you.
    Anyway, I’m glad you’ve decided to shoehorn some blogging into your busy work and family life.

  3. Good grief! Welcome back!
    You too, Damian. 🙂
    At least the Democrats only fussed about the cost of Bush’s address. Nothing about a “personality cult,” or “brainwashing,” or the “Hitler Youth.”
    Maybe the Dems just lack imagination. 🙂

  4. I think Charles Krauthammer has it right:
    What is odd and creepy is the conception of government that underlay whoever it was in the Education Department — and it could have been a plural — to have a question [for the kids to write about]: “How can you help your president?”
    That is not innocuous. Look, it is not going to do any real damage. We’re not going to have people chanting poems about their Dear Leader. The question is that that kind of thing — about a relationship between the child and the president — is extremely odd. A child has a relationship with a parent or with a teacher, later a mentor or a coach, but not a president.
    A child swears allegiance to the flag and the republic for which it stands, but not the man who happens to be sitting in the White House. That’s the difference between a “popular democracy” (which is really a dictatorship) and a constitutional democracy.
    And the idea that you would want a child to have any relationship with a president is odd. He shouldn’t have any at all.
    http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ZDdjZTQ3YzY2YWViMDUzODAyZjY3NmJjMGIzOWU4MTM=

  5. On the face of it, Bruce, it could be odd and repellent to suggest a “relationship” with the President. But the context here, at least as I’ve been able to observe, is that said President wants the kids to work hard, stay in school, and eventually make a contribution to society. And he’s pointing out something that no one here would dispute: he can’t do the job all by himself.
    The office of President is sufficiently mystified that an enormous number of Americans believe just the opposite: that Obama can, all by himself, a) move America onto a shining path of progress, or b) subvert its very nature and turn the country into a Communist or Islamist state.
    In fact, as I’ve pointed out before, Obama has less constitutional power than our own Prime Minister. Anything he wants to achieve legislatively requires bringing a lot of people on-side, forging agreement, brokering and horse-trading.
    But (as I think you might agree), any progress that America might make on a number of fronts shouldn’t be left up to gummint. It requires a lot of ordinary people putting their shoulders to the wheel: “ask what you can do for your country.”
    I am far from an Obamaphile, never was, but to make the point that the President needs help, not on a partisan basis but simply to get on with the task of building America, is a welcome one. And it is also pretty empowering for a kid to hear that, I would imagine.

  6. As Damian points out, Obama wasn’t the first to use the bully pulpit of the Presidency to address young school children, but there’s a difference between telling the kids to work hard and stay in school, and making helping-the-President part of the Pre-K through 6 curriculum.
    “Write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals…
    Participate in School wide incentive programs or contests for students who achieve their goals.” http://www.docstoc.com/docs/10629497/Obama%E2%80%99s-Address-to-Students-Across-America-September-8-2009-Menu-of-Classroom-Activities-PreK-6
    Granted, the administration has backed off, somewhat, from this part of the “Classroom Activities”, due to widespread complaints, but the rest of the document has the same flavor.
    I fully expect Obama’s speech to be pretty vanilla, but no politician, be he a mayor, governor, or President should be bypassing parents to enlist help “with the task of building America”.

  7. Bruce, man, great to see you!
    A quibble: “A child swears allegiance to the flag and the republic for which it stands, but not the man who happens to be sitting in the White House. That’s the difference between a “popular democracy” (which is really a dictatorship) and a constitutional democracy.”
    The US is a constitutional representative republic. We are specifically not a democracy in the fullest parliamentary sense. I know you know that, but most of our Canadian confrères won’t be tuned-in on it. My Oath of Allegiance clearly stated to defend and support the Constitution. Nothing in there about the flag or the republic.
    And yeah, I too think it’s going to be one of those vanilla pleas for help to “save the environment” blah blah blah. Look, when Americans opt to send their kids to a State school, McCluhan’s law applies. The President is going to deliver statist pap.

  8. Damien, it’s a pleasure and a relief to see you back.
    Let’s assume a Canadian PM planned to make a high-profile speech to all Canadain students telling them to stay in school, brush their teeth and write to him personally to tell him how to save the country. What do we think Quebecers would say about that? And as the crescendo grew of charges from the Quebec legislature and media that it was a plot to assume jurisdiction over education and undermine the French culture, wouldn’t our American friends look up and say: “What is wrong with these crazy people?”

  9. It’s also worth pointing out that this isn’t occurring in a vacuum. There are also reports of the politicization of the National Endowment of the Arts to promote the President’s agenda.
    “On Thursday August 6th, I was invited by the National Endowment for the Arts to attend a conference call scheduled for Monday August 10th hosted by the NEA, the White House Office of Public Engagement, and United We Serve. The call would include ‘a group of artists, producers, promoters, organizers, influencers, marketers, taste-makers, leaders or just plain cool people to join together and work together to promote a more civically engaged America and celebrate how the arts can be used for a positive change!’”

    “I leave you with a few statements made by the NEA to the art community participants on the conference call. ‘This is just the beginning. This is the first telephone call of a brand new conversation. We are just now learning how to really bring this community together to speak with the government. What that looks like legally?…bare with us as we learn the language so that we can speak to each other safely… ‘“
    http://volokh.com/posts/1251360555.shtml

  10. I dunno, Bruce. You reckon that conversation is really as sinister as you’re making out? The NEA wants to have a discussion about “a more civically engaged America and celebrate how the arts can be used for a positive change.”
    Scary? Really? “Is the hair on your arms standing up yet?” Well, no, it isn’t. A conversation among 75 people isn’t exactly armed insurrection.
    Admittedly I found the invitation to “bare with us” a little forward. Maybe during the third conversation. 🙂

  11. The NEA is supposed to be non-political. When the administration decides to use it “to help lay a new foundation for growth, focusing on core areas of the recovery agenda – health care, energy and environment, safety and security, education, community renewal”, that is politicization. I suppose if you’re comparing it to Chavez or Castro, it is not much, but it is a step further than other Administrations have gone.

  12. I’m wondering what the topic of conversation really is. One could interpret the NEA initiative as a call for an inevitably crude state art, akin to socialist realism (highly unlikely), or, on the other hand, say, the delivery of art programs to the inner cities. Or community projects–wall murals by kids, for example, as we have here in Ottawa on some communitarian theme or another.
    I’d really like some details of what the NEA is on about. At this point we’re both speculating.

  13. According to the report, the goal is “to help lay a new foundation for growth, focusing on core areas of the recovery agenda”, not “delivery of art programs to the inner cities”.
    If the administration intends to direct a political agenda for taxpayer-funded art then it has crossed a line. Asking participants to, “bare with us as we learn the language so that we can speak to each other safely” indicates they are cognizant of this.

  14. But what does “to help lay a new foundation for growth, focusing on core areas of the recovery agenda” mean concretely? I was suggesting a couple of possibilities, but the truth is, as a former bureaucrat myself, I can’t makes heads or tails of this.
    Given the relentless parsing by the foamers of every syllable uttered by the new administration–to the point of raging, gun-toting paranoia–I can understand the expressed need to find a neutral vocabulary when a government-funded agency wants to have a conversation with members of the public. I think it’s refreshingly honest, in fact, for the NEA to express its caution so clearly.

  15. “I was thinking more of this”
    And not a single one broke the law, threatened anyone, or so much as bit off a finger. Imagine that.

  16. I’d suggest that carrying a sign about watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants sounds reasonably threatening.
    Imagine if a Muslim with a suitably jihadist sign had been hanging around a meeting with President Bush with an AK-47. Law or (as is the case in the US) no law, like that would ever be permitted to happen.
    Obama’s going to be lucky to make it through his first term at this rate.
    And speaking of class:

    Heh. I’ve missed this. 🙂

  17. My understanding is that the group that showed up at the Arizona protest was not part of the Tea Party. They broke no laws and posed no threat. They made great TV, but were highly atypical. Out of many dozens of Tea Party protests, people with guns have been present at two.
    According to CNN, “U.S. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan acknowledged the incidents in New Hampshire and Arizona, but said he was not aware of any other recent events where protesters attended with open weapons. He said there was no indication that anyone had organized the incidents. Asked whether the individuals carrying weapons jeopardized the safety of the president, Donovan said, Of course not.'” http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/08/18/obama.protest.rifle/
    I’m sure that in any protest you’re going to find some rudeness, even jeering a woman in a wheelchair, but so far the tea Parties have been marked by non violence. The few incidents appear to have been instigated by union (SEIU) thugs.
    More typical is the 10,000 strong crowd at today’s rally in New Lenox/Joliet. http://teapartyexpress.wordpress.com/2009/09/07/sheriff-reports-10000-at-new-lenoxjoliet-rally/
    If your argument is that the Tea Partiers are “foamers … to the point of raging, gun-toting paranoia” you’ve seriously missed the boat.

  18. Bruce:
    I don’t think I was singling out the Teabaggers. I was including the attendees at the townhalls (where at least one more gun was in evidence)
    http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2009/08/gun-dropped-at-town-hall-meeting.html
    …and the stark, staring madness about birth certificates, and the nutbars keeping their kids home from school today, and the irresponsible talk-show hosts urging on the mobs.
    For all of our differences, Bruce, you’re a civilized man. Surely all this craziness must bother you.

  19. Dawg,
    “Teabagger” is an obscene and offensive term. You cost yourself credibility when you conjure up a scary image of “mobs” and then refer to people you object to as “teabaggers”.
    Given the inflammatory rhetoric and sometimes violent protests from the left, during the Bush administration, these protests are small potatoes.
    It’s rather amusing when communists profess to be frightened of the bourgeoisie hordes.

  20. Dawg,
    It appears your arguing style these days is not to concede anything. Check out the Wikipedia: “derogatory and meant to be deliberately offensive” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teabagger#cite_note-0 .
    That a few people may have adopted it, in a perverse way, as a badge of honor (much as some black people refer to themselves by the N-word) does not make it any less obscene and offensive.
    It’d be like labeling left-wing demonstrators “scrotal inflators”, except that you don’t see any actual “tea bagging” at a tea party rally.

  21. Well, I stand corrected. I thought the term had actually originated with that lot.
    But this is a side-track. Just to repeat my earlier question, does the current craziness not bother you a bit?
    Incidentally, I must have missed the last time you conceded an argument. That seems a little pot-kettle-blackish to me.

  22. 1) “does the current craziness not bother you a bit?”
    Craziness compared to what? Previous decades, especially the 60s and 70s, experienced violent protest, domestic terrorism, and the like. There is nothing like that today. Even the so-called militia movement of the 80s and 90s has virtually disappeared.
    Ford had two serious assassination attempts on his life, including one by Sarah Jane Moore who was involved with the Symbionese Liberation Army. Reagan was shot, and almost died, 69 days into his presidency.
    Congress and the President are attempting to enact highly controversial legislation, and yet we’re supposed to be shocked when some constituent yells at his congressman?
    Violence and armed revolt are not close at hand. Rush Limbaugh is not going to dispatch a dittohead assassin to Washington. The major threat appears to be that some congressmen, in marginal seats, risk defeat in the 2010 election.
    To use a popular phrase from the past, “where’s the beef?”
    2) “I must have missed the last time you conceded an argument.”
    I can’t find the thread, but there was a duesy on this site where I made an argument based on my very flawed understanding of Canadian geography. I had my tail between my legs for weeks after that.

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