Oh, Come On

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on September 4, 2009

Look, I don’t have a problem with President Obama addressing schoolchildren. I do, however, have a problem when the Department of Education issues fawning lesson plans/talking points that tend to glorify the President of the United States without calling on schoolchildren to exercise their skills in critical thinking/informed skepticism by so much as asking them a question like “at what point in the President’s speech did he say something that struck you as being untrue, or something with which you disagreed?”

I understand that it is the job of the White House’s political and communications office to pretend not to understand this basic point, or to try to distract from it. But this tactic should not fool anyone.

UPDATE: David Harsanyi dissents from my views . . . kind of.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I agree with every word of the following comment by Krauthammer:

Look, this was never about content. We were not going to have the president urging eight-year-olds to come out in favor of high taxes as patriotic. And anything he said would be perfectly OK, it will be “tie your shoelaces and be nice to your neighbor.”

What is odd and creepy is the conception of government that underlay whoever it was in the Education Department — and it could have been a plural — to have a question [for the kids to write about]: “How can you help your president?”

That is not innocuous. Look, it is not going to do any real damage. We’re not going to have people chanting poems about their Dear Leader. The question is that that kind of thing — about a relationship between the child and the president — is extremely odd. A child has a relationship with a parent or with a teacher, later a mentor or a coach, but not a president.

A child swears allegiance to the flag and the republic for which it stands, but not the man who happens to be sitting in the White House. That’s the difference between a “popular democracy” (which is really a dictatorship) and a constitutional democracy.

And the idea that you would want a child to have any relationship with a president is odd. He shouldn’t have any at all.

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