Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Because on Tuesday, President Barack Obama will address students on a national television hook-up and webcast (www.whitehouse.gov/live/) exhorting them to make an effort to study hard, complete school and learn as much as they can.
Our right-wing talking heads are telling us not to be fooled, that Obama’s real motive is the traditional lefty conspiracy to use “kids in public schools as guinea pigs and as junior lobbyists for their social liberal agenda.”
That’s not made-up. It’s straight from commentator Michelle Malkin.
Sean Hannity, one of the most rabid, doctrinaire conservatives on television, declared the president’s tactic is “very close to indoctrination.”
Holly McCutcheon, whose daughter attends Sabin Middle School, e-mailed The Gazette Thursday, saying, “Most parents probably do not know of this agenda being pushed into our schools and affecting our students. Isn’t this what happened in Germany, starting in 1929 and continued until almost an entire race was eradicated?”
Wow. Obama is Hitler now?
In a follow-up phone interview, McCutcheon added, “and Stalin did the same thing in Russia.”
“There’s a lot more to it than just saying ‘stay in school,’ ” McCutcheon said. “He’s trying to influence them in an eloquent speech and persona that he’s a great guy. I don’t want him to broadcast to my kid. Ninety-nine percent of those kids can be persuaded because that’s the way he is.”
McCutcheon, whose sentiments echoed numerous online commenters at gazette.com on Thursday, acknowledged that she allows her daughter to watch Obama and political commentators at home. She said “the difference is it is in her school.”
Watching television in one place or the other doesn’t seem to be too much of a difference, does it?
“My child will not go to school that day if there is a broadcast,” McCutcheon said. “I’m really furious.”
As other media already have reported, President George Herbert Walker Bush was the first president to do what Obama is going to do. Some liberals didn’t like it at the time, but they stopped far short of comparing the president to murdering dictators.
In 2006, President George W. Bush (see my blog) used a visit to an elementary school to make a political speech about the No Child Left Behind Act. There was no outrage at that.
FDR was the first president to master mass media with his Fireside Chats. Ronald Reagan was a wonderful communicator. Obama is a gifted speaker, too.
What all three have in common is that their political opponents grumbled about how effective they could be, even when delivering a benign message.
It’s easy to see who’s afraid. Who’s very afraid.
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