Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Speech

The speech Obama will give American school kids later today is a decent one, as you can see for yourself: link. It's not overtly political. It's only mildly self-serving. Anything smacking too much of either would have been purged from early drafts by the time it was made public yesterday, given the controversy. It says many of the things most American parents already have said to their kids, ad nauseum, if they're any kind of parent at all.

Obama's speech might inspire some young Americans to take their studies more seriously; to not sass their teachers, to set lofty goals, to shoot for the stars, etc. It will do the most good, arguably, for those kids who never hear their parents deliver such pep talks, or demand higher standards. But I still believe it's inappropriate, for the reasons presented in an earlier post.

Most of what this annoyingly-verbose president says in a 20-minute speech could have been said, probably with more impact, in a series of 30- or 60-second Ad Council PSAs, which could be aired on networks where young people tune in. That would have been a much more effective means of delivering the message, with no need to disrupt school days or stir dissension in the ranks. This sort of 20-minute soliloquy might work well in the U.S. Senate, and will probably have many left-leaning teachers spellbound. But it will probably have many students tuning-out or nodding-off half way through.

This president loves to hear himself talk -- he's "intoxicated with his own verbosity," as my dad used to say. And he can blather on with the best of them. But it's arrogant and presumptuous of him (or any president of either party) to ask American public schools to furnish him with a captive audience, on demand. I think it sets a bad precedent that invites future mischief.

Will the Presidential Pep Talk to Students become an annual ritual, ala the State of the Union Address? Obama did it, so the next president, and the president after her, will want to do it, too. And why shouldn't the president also give an annual Presidential Address to High School Graduates, or a National Presidential Commencement Speech? And how long before more politics creeps into such messages? You can see the slippery slope that beckons.

This is nothing but an ego trip -- another opportunity for the imperial president to pose and preen and lecture Americans. And if a president isn't willing to respect any boundaries, in terms of invading the lives of supposedly sovereign-citizens, the citizens will have to tell the president that there are certain lines he or she shouldn't cross -- starting at the school house door. We didn't do that in this case. We'll come to regret it in the long-run.

Americans (including school kids) already are bombarded by the images, words and actions of the president, making that person appear god-like in stature. But he's simply supposed to serve as chief executive, in a system of divided powers and checks and balances. His powers are limited. He's just a cog in a machine that works for "we the people." And that's what young Americans should be learning in school.

Instead, they're required to assemble like sheep, to hear from our glorious leader, lecturer-in-chief Barack Obama. The office of president is taking on the attributes of a personality cult. This sort of thing doesn't help.

1 comment:

jerry bates said...

Very inspirational speech I loved how he aimed for our kids of today to plan for tomorrow, its not giving them political empowerment or guiding them in the wrong direction as the media portrayed but its giving them hope that through all the struggles and storms you may cross you will come out the hero In the end way to go Mr. President.