It's amazing how things have changed since the last Presidential election. And I'm not talking about health care reform or financial policy. I'm talking about politics, pure and simple. Repeatedly over the last 8 months I have watched as conservatives have made hair-pin changes of heart that would give any driver whiplash. Not in their core political beliefs, but in what is acceptable and what isn't when it comes to the President.
Last night a news story caught my eye as I skimmed across Yahoo's front page. It was about a planned speech by President Obama, directed at students. According to Obama, in an interview last month with an 11 year old student reporter:
"I'm going to be making a big speech to young people all across the country about the importance of education; about the importance of staying in school; how we want to improve our education system and why it’s so important for the country. So I hope everybody tunes in."
I'm thinking that it sounds like an interesting idea. An authority figure like the President talking directly to kids. Treating them like real people to reinforce the importance of education for them and for the country. I'd say it's a win-win idea. But oddly, the conservatives seem to see it as some liberal, 'activist' attempt to mind control our youth. Below is an excerpt from a statement by Jim Greer, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Though he's far from the only person to ooze from the woodwork with words of lunacy, his press release is truly impressive.
"The address scheduled for September 8, 2009, does not allow for healthy debate on the President's agenda, but rather obligates the youngest children in our public school system to agree with our President's initiatives or be ostracized by their teachers and classmates."
"President Obama has turned to American's children to spread his liberal lies, indoctrinating American's youngest children before they have a chance to decide for themselves."
You can find the full press release here and it would be funny if the guy wasn't serious:
There are so many things wrong with this single Press Release that I have difficulty deciding where to start. Since when does listening to a speech obligate you to agree with the speaker? Is he claiming that kids are so docile and easily lead that they'll believe anything they are told by an authority figure? If it was that easy, then parents wouldn't have any problem at all with keeping their kids in line. In the 'Real World' kids are pretty skeptical when adults tell them things. They're also a lot smarter than Mr. Greer apparently gives them credit. And what is this babble about spreading liberal lies?! I keep forgetting that if you don't agree with a policy then it's obviously a 'Lie'. Sounds so much more dastardly that way. I saw nothing in the description of the speech that indicated Obama was going to try and sell health care reform or financial bailout proposals. You know why? Because it would make no sense to preach these things to students. They aren't the ones who will decide these issues. Mr. Greer is either an idiot or is desperate to get his name onto the national stage as a 'Conservative Bastion' for future political benefit. Since he's gotten this far in his career, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume it's just crass self promotion.
What really gets under my skin about this whole thing? If this had happened 12 mos ago, and it was G.W. Bush doing the speechifyin', these same people would be beside themselves with praise about what a 'historic' occasion this is and how this shows the President reaching out to kids and speaking to them with respect. But the Republican party is incapable of passing up a chance to turn anything Obama says or does into some Democratic plot. As if the Democratic Party was organized and unified enough to manage such a thing!
It's just another example of how quickly what was praise worthy when their man was in power suddenly becomes despicable when the political tide changes. The hypocrisy I've seen on display from conservatives since January is truly awe inspiring. Many, especially conservatives, like to look down on The Daily Show as just fake news. But what they really hate about the program is that it projects their hypocrisy and petty concerns on the wall for all to see. They can't stand to have their own words brought back to haunt them. That's what The Daily Show excels at. Digging up the week, month or year old tape that clearly shows how this person has perjured themselves over and over in the public arena. It's not the fake segments that people love the most. It's the real video clips that clearly display how shallow, arrogant and condescending so many of our elected leaders are.
Their recent election losses have backed the Republicans into a political corner and they are biting, scratching and yowling at anything they perceive as a threat. And just like a cornered animal, doesn't matter if the threat is real or not, anything that isn't 'them' is treated as an enemy. Unfortunately, many Americans who support the Republican party seem incapable or unwilling to parse through the drek. If it comes from 'their' party, then it must be true. Doesn't matter if it's coherent or logical. All that matters is if it's officially sanctioned by their party. It's sad, but unfortunately true.
The video of the President's speech to Students
Text of speech to Students