Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Much Ado About Nothing (IMHO)

I just finished watching the President’s address to our nation’s schoolchildren. You know, the one that generated such heated debate over the last week or so that several states and countless school districts decided not to show it. Even here, in my liberal little biosphere of a Village, the Superintendent of Schools sent out an email informing all parents that if anyone chose not to have their child watch the speech, they could opt out by sending an email to that child’s teacher.

My husband and I chose to let our children watch the speech. No—that’s wrong. We didn’t give it a second thought. It was a given that our kids would watch the speech. And yes, in the interest of full disclosure, I did vote for the guy (not that it’s anyone’s business but that seems to be a crucial part of the debate…along with the assumption that if you vote for someone you automatically agree with everything that person says or does. Not true, by the way.). But had a previous administration’s President spoken to our children, they would have watched that speech as well. President George H.W. Bush spoke to our schoolchildren in 1991; same for President Reagan in 1988. They were/are our Presidents. We need to listen to what they have to say and make our own judgments. And civic responsibility? It’s never too early to learn that.

So I’m interested to find out a) if the kids had a reaction to the speech and b) if they are interested in talking about it at all. Because I’ve found that those things that get us adults all up in arms are really not the same things that get our kids agitated (i.e. the price of the new Rock Band Beatles edition for one). I’m guessing that the speech won’t be mentioned unless either hubby or I bring it up, or unless somebody got in trouble for talking during the speech which would be duly noted and reported on in great detail.

I decided to withhold judgment on the speech until I watched it. I know, novel idea. Many of the vociferous rantings of the last week were done without benefit of even having read the transcript of the speech. But after watching it, all I can think is, “Is this what got everybody all fired up?”

“Do your best.”

“…start with the responsibility you have within yourself.”

“Every single one of you has something to offer.”

“What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country.”

I heard nothing in the speech on health care, the war in Afghanistan, tort reform, or the stock market, some of the topics that opponents to this speech feared would be presented. What I heard was a President imploring the nation’s children to take responsibility for themselves and their education, to make the most of what this country has to offer in terms of education, and to know that who they are and how they behave is of vital importance. It was a great speech, written for a varied audience, hitting all of the notes that parents should hit every now and again while raising their own children. I’m glad President Obama spoke to the kids today, on the first or second day of school. Come to think of it, I wish President Obama would speak to them every week. Or at least come over here once a week and talk to my kids. Maybe then we could table the “great green bean debate” once and for all.

I’m getting concerned about the backlash to everything this administration, and even the smaller local ones, are trying to do. While not a fan of some previous administration’s efforts to reform certain things in this country, I do have a healthy respect for anyone who tries to affect any kind of change, even if I am ideologically opposed. So, until it doesn’t work, let’s give it a try (I’m looking at you, No Child Left Behind). But having the President take time out of his day to speak to the nation’s schoolchildren about the value of education? Not something we need to worry about.


Maggie Barbieri


  1. I listened to the president's speech and thought it was great--and I didn't vote for him. However, I have many friends and relatives who weren't sure whether they'd let their kids listen to the speech.

    It kind of reminds me of when John Kennedy ran for office--everyone was sure because he was Catholic the Pope would be running our country. Of course that was ridiculous.

    What bothers me the most is the way the media of both parties are so demeaning. I've quit listening to all the mainline news people and radio--all of them should have a lesson on what reporting actually means and not slanting things to make the other side (which ever that side might be) look like a horrible and stupid monster.


  2. I agree - how shocking! He suggests they wash their hands, take care of their appearance and bodies, listen to their parents/grandparents, teachers...understand that just because you don't like a class now doesn't mean it won't have some meaning or use later... TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS! Gods and demons forbid your child be told to do something half the parents in the world can't manage - be self-responsible.

    Honestly - I wonder how much of the uproar is because of his being black?

  3. The children kept from the speech (from even reading it in some cases!?) did learn something.

    They learned "Wow, my parents are pretty stupid."

    I am often bowled over by this all-encompassing rancor between parties and interests. What has gotten into people that they are so bitter and angry and lash out so hatefully?

    I'm not talking about people who just strongly and vocally disagree with others who are just as strong and vocal, who can still be passionate but civil when expressing their views no matter what they are.

    I'm talking about nuts who bring guns to large political rallies because they "have the right to" and stupid moms who burst into tears and can barely speak when they tell us how troubling it is to them to think about their kids having to listen to a speech from President Obama!

    I believe, with much sadness, that some of it is racism, some of it is greed, and some of it is just plain stupidity.

    And, the addled and pathetic who suffer any one or more of those causes for their behavior are crushing the sane, reasonable, and open minded all around them, of every political persuasion and view.

  4. Just curious - did you also agree with the homework assignment attached to his speech? That is, to write a letter to themselves about what they were going to do for him? Not what they were going to do for THEMSELVES, but for HIM.

    Notice neither President Bush nor President Reagon included such a hero worship assignment with their speech to our kids.

    Granted, in the end, that assignment was omitted, but only under duress. However, the fact that it was included in the first place speaks volumes about the original motivation and intent of that speech.

    Not to mention that our liberal redistribute-the-wealth president didn't believe a word he said about his conservative message of self-reliance. He wants us all dependent on the government for everything.

    Peace and love and have a wonderful day.

    (I apologize if this comment posted twice - my finger slipped.)