Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

September 6, 2009


Sam Smith, Progressive Review - Someone in Obama Spin Central made a bad mistake: attempting to push a politicized lesson plan for elementary school kids to use following the president's speech to them on TV. It wasn't all that important in itself but symbolizes an apparent desire in some quarters to replace Muzak in our lives with the sound of all Obama all the time.

The lesson plan included such tacky political recommendations as having students "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president."

Elsewhere the lesson plan suggested sample questions including, "Is President Obama inspiring you to do anything?" and, "Is he challenging you to do anything?"

Once the plan was exposed (and the Review was about the only progressive journal to help in this), The White House quickly dumped some of the objectionable language. For example, the plan now suggests that students "write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals."

The spinmeisters pulled out a classic non-apology. Said one, "That was inartfully worded, and we corrected it."

But other Democrats were not content to correct and move on. Instead they tried to rewrite the script so that it was only about the president giving a speech. Nothing about the crummy lesson plan.

And the liberal media joined the fray. MSNBC's John Harwood, for example, badly misstated the issue by claiming, "I've been watching politics for a long time, and this one is really over-the-top. What it shows you is there are a lot of cynical people who try to fan controversy, and let's face it, in a country of 300 million people, there are a lot of stupid people too, because if you believe that it's somehow unhealthy for kids, for the president to say "work hard and stay in school," you're stupid." Nothing about the lesson plan.

Now it's true the Republicans and conservatives leaped on the issue as could be expected. But the Democratic and liberal media tried to argue that all those opposed were in this camp as well.

This reflects a growing Democratic tendency, whether the issue be end of life decisions, gun control, or politicized lesson plans issued by the president's staff, to treat all those opposed to the Democrats as stupid conservatives.

And since that isn't true, the Democrats end up insulting an awful lot of people who just don't happen to agree with them on one issue. People like school superintendents who have decided not to run the speech because of its political context or parents who are also troubled by it.

Take for instance Vasselboro Maine parent, Micki Stetson, whose two children attend Vassalboro Community School. According to the Morning Sentinel, "Stetson said it's great that the president is giving a pep talk to students and that children will look at this as 'sort of a good thing, something they will remember,' but that 'the department was overstepping its boundaries. I believe the questions asked were advocating an ideology, as opposed to a critical approach. They shouldn't be asking a child how this figure inspired you. What if the figure didn't inspire them? That's political propaganda, and I don't believe that should be portrayed in the school."

Do John Harwood and the Daily Kos think Micki Stetson is stupid?

What good does it do to assign such a name to those who happen to disagree with you on one issue? Especially when even the White House tacitly admitted they were right by removing the objectionable language?

And if they do think they were stupid, would this category include the former Democratic House majority leader Dick Gephart who in 1991 said of a George H. W Bush speech at a Washington junior high school, "The Department of Education should not be producing paid political advertising for the president, it should be helping us to produce smarter students."

You start calling people stupid for disagreeing with you on a few issues and there's no telling who will end up in the pot. And every one is less likely to vote the way you want after they've heard your low opinion of them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

After the last election a Republican friend was bemoaning his party's collapse. He asked me what the GOP could do to get back some seats in the next election, and maybe get the White House back in 2012.
Simple, said I: Adopt the Rahm Emmanuel (otherwise known as the "give them enough rope") strategy.

September 6, 2009 10:44 AM  
Blogger Elderlady said...

People could have been reminded, by a lot of people who wrote about the "sinisterism" of Obama addressing school children, that this is something that Presidents have done --- since TV became the American media of choice.

It isn't a NEW concept.

Nobody is forcing the participation of those who don't want their kids to watch.

Most of Texas won't watch. It won't be shown by most of the schools here -- because the right-wing has demonized it to the point that a lot of Texans DO believe that Obama wants to "indoctrinate" their kids.

When GHW Bush spoke to school children, and asked for the kids to write to him, and tell him how he could be a better President -- nobody thought anything about it.

The furor over this has been blown way out of proportion.

Obama is President of the entire United States. If you don't respect the man (for whatever reason --- ) respect the office he holds.

A. If you really, really, want kids to watch something: Forbid them to do so. They will sneak around to watch.

B. Kids in secondary schools won't remember what they saw, or heard, beyond this time next week. They will go back to Twitter, and football, full time.

All this "protesting is way too much" ado about nothing relavent at all.

September 7, 2009 7:48 AM  
Anonymous Mairead said...

"Respect the office he holds"? Whyever for? What's the office done for us lately?

September 7, 2009 8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When GHW Bush spoke to school children, and asked for the kids to write to him, and tell him how he could be a better President -- nobody thought anything about it."

Until the White House changed the lesson plan, Obama was going to ask kids to reflect on how they could better serve him. Classic cult of personality indoctrination.

September 7, 2009 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live near Houston, TX and most of the comments about this topic to the Houston Chronicle have been vitrolic to the point of madness. A rally in Austin recently called for Texas to seceed from the United States. This situation is not just about the speech to children. How many of these who so openly hate the president will listen to his health care speech the next day? Zero.

September 7, 2009 11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I challenge any kid to stay awake through this:


September 7, 2009 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can help DESTROY the conservative power structure in congress Read this. http://democratz.org Make this viral.

September 8, 2009 1:08 AM  
Blogger Elderlady said...

Rarely do I cut and paste in someone's blog.
For those who may not recognize it - this is what INDOCTRINATION looks like:

The oaths of "Allegiance" are as follows:

From The Daily Hurricane (http:www.TheDailyHurricane.com)-- compliments of the Texas Education Agency:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

"Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible."

As if this wasn't enough, the state of Texas offers lesson plans which they "suggest" the students follow:

The teacher will show the student a map of the United States. The teacher will place a large red heart on the map and say,

"We love our country, the United States of America and want to be a good citizen and pledge our support. To do this, we stand up and put our hand over our heart." The student will stand up and place his or her hand over his or her heart as [the teacher demonstrates.] The student will stand in front of a table that has a [voice output device on it which contains five buttons with accompanying pictures secured to the device with adhesive fasteners.] Each picture will represent a section of the Pledge of Allegiance that is recorded on the voice output device. The five buttons will activate a recorded section of the pledge that corresponds to the picture. The teacher will state, "We are going to say the pledge." The teacher will point to the first picture on the output device. The student will (activate and listen to the first section of the pledge.) When the recording stops, the student will (turn the picture face down on the table and activate the next button.) When all buttons have been activated and all pictures are facedown, the teacher will ask the student, "How do you feel about your country?" The student will (point to the big red heart on the map.)

We gave you George W. Bush.

September 8, 2009 7:51 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home