Much Ado About Nothing: Presidential Speech Edition

Just in case you’ve been camping on the moon for the past couple of weeks, today President Obama delivered his socialist agenda brainwashing speech to innocent children, better known to those of us who actually use our brains to think as a Presidential Back-to-School address. Seems President Obama, who knows from both his and the First Lady’s backgrounds that a solid education is the key to success, wanted to remind the kids that their futures were in their own hands, and their job is to work hard in school, persevere, and watch all that work bear fruit.

How very pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps of him. Just the kind of hard work, self-reliant, achieve your American Dream kind of thing the conservatives have been harping on for years. Unfortunately, there are some truly loose screws shouting from the right side of the aisle these days. Even more unfortunately, a sizable chunk of the populace is listening to them without thinking much about what they’re actually saying.

These are the same folks who got all bent out of shape when people criticized President G.W. Bush. As in, “How dare you criticize the President? How un-Patriotic! How un-American!” Now that their guy’s not in the Oval Office, it’s open season on Obama–and that’s being patriotic and American.

Look, folks. Dissent is an American value. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution don’t guarantee that we’re all going to hold hands and sing “Kumbaya.” You don’t have to agree with President Obama. You don’t have to like him. But, to be fair, if you demand that the office of the President deserves respect (as I heard so many preaching during the W years), then put your money where your flappin’ gums are and respect the man. It’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable–and I’m not just talking about the conservatives. There are some lefties who’ve abandoned their good manners and foam at the mouth as rabidly and unattractively as the freaked-out tea party crowd. Extremism of any stripe is annoying and dangerous. And, most of the time, downright wrong.

Thinking Americans of all stripes can find much to praise in today’s message. They can also find much to discuss. DISCUSS being the key word. Thou canst not discuss when thou art shouting.

I think President Obama’s words were on the mark. He, at least, seems to understand that the work of education is spread among a large group of people. Today, he addressed the group that’s often left out of the “let’s improve our schools” debates–the ones actually doing the work in the desks. He tells the kids,

“By the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world — and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities.”

Preach on, Mr. President. If you’re lucky, maybe some of their parents were paying attention.

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