Once again, the Republican/conservative noise machine puts itself firmly and squarely on the wrong side of history:
On the very first day of the school year, 12-year-old Mileena Rodriguez was reminded by President Barack Obama himself that hard work can take you places. Mileena listened to Obama’s plea to study hard and stay in school Tuesday, watching along with several of her classmates at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School and students across the country. For all the hubbub among adults over the back-to-school speech, many youngsters took the president’s message to heart.
“He said that we’re the future, and he’s right,” said Mileena, who wants to be a forensic scientist. “That’s a president telling you, `I care about you getting your education.’ Just imagine what kids like us can do if we actually listen.”
At Thomas Jefferson High School in Auburn, Wash., a racially and economically diverse district outside Seattle, sophomores listened attentively to the address. Fifteen-year-old Ariana Steele said the message connected with her.
“When you see someone of such power saying what your parents say or your teachers have said, like all your life, it really makes it more powerful to you and it really makes you want to try more,” she said.
And William Geist, a San Francisco fifth-grader who likes to sleep late, listened closely to Obama’s story of studying with his mother at 4:30 a.m.
“Now since I heard this speech, I’m like, `Man, I’ve got to get up early in the morning. I’ve got to get ready for school. I’ve got to do this,'” William said.
The insanity of this moment on the right should not be forgotten. Its not just that these people on the right thought Obama might be partisan in a speech to schoolchildren. No, its that they compared it to a Nazi/Soviet/Communist indoctrination brain-wipe! We saw the effects of these crazy people running our country, and yet somehow out of power they’ve grown more deranged.
Any cursory glance at American history shows us that while legislation, war, and economy are major elements of the presidency – it is also the power of the national bully pulpit, the ability to command attention and inspire that is such a huge part of the presidency. That goes for presidents of all parties – from people like Washington to Lincoln to both Roosevelts and beyond.
Our presidents inspire us in times of weakness and in strength. Whether they come from wealth or are one of us, that’s part of the power of the office that we give them at the ballot box.
Maybe its because we haven’t seen it for a while that it’s so shocking to some when President Obama does it.