What’s Wrong with This Country?

Thu, September 3, 2009


I had many honest discussions with PunditGirl during the 2008 Presidential election about why her dad and I are Democrats, why we believed that the Bush administration was bad for our country and why we wanted a Democrat in the White House.

But I also made sure that my then-eight-year-old understood that even though I felt VERY strongly about why the GOP was so wrong in its current philosophies, that it’s also important to respect the President and the presidency.  The leader of our country, regardless of what we think about his (and hopefully someday ‘her’) positions, inherently deserves a certain amount of respect.  It’s crucial that our children understand that, in this time of shouting head programs where news personalities bash anyone and everyone, the leader of our country is inherently someone they should pay attention to and respect.

But after what I learned today, I have to wonder whether I’m being a tad naive.

Right-wingers are calling for their own to keep their children home from school on September 8, when President Obama is scheduled to speak to children across the country.  They’re afraid that the mean, old President is going to do or say something to our children that would lead them down the path to becoming a nefarious liberal!  (As an aside, I find it pretty amusing that one of those crying the loudest for this school day boycott doesn’t even send her children to public school.  I’ll let you draw your own conclusions from that.)

Has the right wing really become that paranoid?  I guess they have.  Somehow, they’ve turned an innocuous speech by the President into an evil effort to brainwash and indoctrinate our children that *GASP* they should stay in school and work hard!!!

Cover your ears and run for the hills!!

It’s all very silly, actually, but I  wonder if these calls for truancy mean that right-wingers believe we should teach our kids to disrespect the President AND the education system by going to the zoo instead of school next week? Can anyone TRULY think that a Presidential address to schoolchildren is about trying to indoctrinate them with subliminal liberal messages? ‘Cause if you do, I’ve got this great bridge in Brooklyn I have to sell you.

As for the hate thing,  it’s time to back off on that a bit.  Trying to gin up so much hate and faux propaganda must be really tiring for those who have taken that on as a political profession.

What this really amounts to is the uber-conservatives continuing the Fox News drumbeat of finding any way to take Barack Obama’s words and actions out of context in order to demonize him every moment of every day between now and the 2012 election.  It’s nothing more and nothing less.

I knew this sort of thing would happen during Obama’s administration, but I didn’t think that each and every move he makes would be turned upside down by the extreme right and twisted until it made me want to move to another country.  I still had a certain amount of faith that people would prove that they wanted what was best for everyone in the country, not just an extreme political agenda.

I won’t make that mistake again.

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18 Responses to “What’s Wrong with This Country?”

  1. Melissa Multitasking Mama Says:

    The fact that an American President is taking advantage of technological advances and taking time to talk to our kids (a speech I’m sure will be filled with secret code and brainwashing *rolling eyes*) about the importance of education.

    I am a conservative on many issues, a liberal on others. I voted for Obama and I am proud of that. But, I would have sent my kids to school to listen to Bush (I would have pitied them but wouldn’t have shared that with them) because, as you mentioned, the office of President, in and of itself, deserves respect.

  2. Danine Says:

    I simply do NOT understand this insanity. How much worse can it get? This outrage is simply twisted. No matter how much I disagreed with President Bush, I never EVER would have said or condoned something like this for him.

    Also, as time goes by, I am more and more appalled by Dick Cheney’s behavior, views and actions. I probably would not want my kids to be subjected to Cheney. Still, the office of the Vice Presidency will always deserve some respect and I won’t resort to that level.

    This is ridiculous.

  3. Danine Says:

    Furthermore, our elected and other civic leaders of both parties should spend much more time talking to school kids.

    Period. End of sentence.

    This is ridiculous (it bore repeating, sorry).

  4. Donna Says:

    Well said, Joanne. I guess I’m showing my age — I was always taught to respect the office of the President, no matter how much I disagreed with the administration in power. And like you, I managed to teach that respect to my daughter — until the last couple of years of the Bush administration, when I could no longer hide my own feelings about them. But no matter how much I yelled back at his press conferences (which here on the West Coast, were always carried on the radio on our way to school), I would NEVER keep my child out of school to prevent her from hearing what he had to say. If anything, I want her to listen, so she can make up her own mind about the issues. I guess that’s an old-fashioned notion, too.

  5. Desiree - Mother Musing Says:

    Well said!! And thank you for saying it.

  6. Lawyer Mama Says:

    I’m with Donna. I was raised to respect the office, even if you don’t like the politics. I simply don’t understand the disrespect I’m seeing, not just for Obama, but for our system of representative democracy. It’s scary as hell because, given enough time, it could actually undermine the fabric of our country. I’ve always assumed that, despite our political differences, Americans shared some basic common goals and values. I’m really starting to doubt that now.

  7. Chris Says:

    I would urge that everyone read and contemplate this article.


    The worst of Bush’s policies which undermined the very foundation of a free society, Obama has continued. In the worst ways, this is truly Bush’s third term.

    Remember Bush’s signing statements? Lets look at one of Obama’s:

    “[P]rovisions of this bill within sections 1110 to 1112 of title XI, and sections 1403 and 1404 of title XIV, would interfere with my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations by directing the Executive to take certain positions in negotiations or discussions with international organizations and foreign governments, or by requiring consultation with the congress prior to such negotiations or discussions. I will not treat these provisions as limiting my ability to engage in foreign diplomacy or negotiations.”

    He doesn’t get to pick and choose parts of bills, he gets to pass or veto them. Eh, but what do you expect from a president who fights the courts concerning respecting the writ of heabus corpus…

    Thats is an out and out disregard for the constitution and the rule of law. As congress is our most immediate and direct voice in government, that is an out and out disregard for the collective will of the people. That is criminal, as it was criminal for Bush. There is a difference between respecting the president and neglecting our individual responsibilities in keeping our democracy.

    Now we have lesson plans asking students to write about on how they can “Help the President” or have them “contemplate” excerpts from his speeches. You may call me paranoid, but its a fact that Mao did that too. There’s are big differences between this event and previous events, previous events didn’t have a prepared lesson plan distributed centrally from the president, and we had not experienced the deep and lingering evisceration of our rights experienced through the Bush years.

    Of course I’ve somehow stumbled into the twilight zone, as ever increasingly I find progressives becoming Bush apologists.. go figure.

  8. Jaelithe Says:

    Excellent post. I would never have kept my child home from school just to avoid a speech by President Bush. If Bush said something I disagreed with, I would have seen it as an opportunity to talk with my child about politics, government, and our own family values. I do not consider my parenting skills so weak that my son’s entire lifetime of moral teaching from me could be undone by a single speech.

    For eight years, every time I criticized President Bush for any reason in any public forum, conservatives assailed me with the argument that I should respect the office of President, especially in war time. “Respect,” to them, in that context, meant I should keep any and all dissenting views to myself.

    In fact, many of the very same bloggers who are promoting taking children out of school for President Obama’s speech repeatedly chided me, during the Bush administration, for so much as questioning the administration’s foreign policy decisions or “War on Terror” tactics, and called me unpatriotic and anti-American.

    Their hypocrisy stuns me.

  9. Chris Wysocki Says:

    Sadly a great number of school teachers are not as high-minded as you claim to be. Do you recall this video?


    Partial transcript:

    Harris:We want to talk about the presidential election. I want to ask you, who are you pulling for? Raise your hand.

    Student: Obama.

    Harris: You pullin for Obama. Who you pullin for?

    Student: Obama.

    Harris:Any of you pullin for John McCain? That’s fine, say him as well.

    Student: Obama.

    Student: Obama.

    [Cathy, the daughter of an American soldier answers McCain.]

    Harris:John, oh lord, John McCain.

    Oh Jesus, John McCain.

    Ok, now I wanna axe you somethin.

    Why are you pullin for John McCain? It’s ok, but why are you pullin for John McCain?

    Cathy: I thinks it’s because my parents are going for him too.

    Harris: Ok, your parents are going for him. Why are you pullin for Ba-RACK. Barack.

    Student: I just want a black president sometimes.

    Ok, you want a black president.

    Student: The reason why I want Barack Obama is because he’s making good changes in the good country and stuff like that.

    Harris: So, he’s making good changes for our country. Now can you tell me just a little bit more, like what type of changes?

    Like not having big fights between Iraq and having soldiers killed.

    So in other words, Barack is going to end that war in Iraq. What do you all know about that war in Iraq?

    [Harris addresses Kathy] Talk, cause yo daddy in the military. Talk. It’s a senseless war! And by the way, Cathy, the person that you’re picking for president said that our troops could stay in Iraq for another hundred years if they need to!

    [Camera pans to Cathy, in near tears.]

    Harris: So that means that your daddy could stay in the military for another hundred years!

    Secretary of Indoctrination Arne Duncan’s suggested lesson plan and talking points read like something right out of the Fidel Castro / Hugo Chavez playbook. In the hands of a teacher like Ms. Harris it can easily manipulate impressionable young minds.

    Here’s one creepy example:

    Write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals.

    My child is NOT accountable to the president. She is accountable to her parents, her teachers, the principal, and our parish priest.

    What message could Obama and his massive ego possibly deliver that could justify disrupting the school day like this? Will he enlist the children in another of his liberal causes? (“Tell Mommy and Daddy to stop hassling Congress about socialized health care!”) He’s already declared his intent to turn every schoolkid into a GS-3 clerk to help with the census next year.

    What’s next? A picture of the Dear Leader to adorn every classroom?

  10. Jill Miller Zimon Says:

    Thanks for writing this Joanne – Jaelithe’s comment as well as others really hits it for me. This opposition is going no where in the longrun – reminds me of just how bad the Massachusetts’ Dems decision was to not let Romney be able to appoint a senator – now look where that got them. These kind of politically motivated acts are just bad all the way around. That adults do not recognize the what goes around comes around thing is maybe the most disappointing – what they are actually teaching their kids with this control of their minds to ignore the CIC – I know they think they’re being clever, but it’s far from that.

  11. PunditMom Says:

    Jill, I guess if this was really about conservatives wanting to control what their children hear one could almost understand that than what I really think this is about — just continual fear mongering from now until 2012, hoping that something will stick to the wall to create doubt about Obama.

    As many people know who read me regularly, Obama wasn’t my first OR my second choice to be the Democratic nominee, so this isn’t about defending Obama for Obama’s sake. For me, this is a scary beginning to a slippery slope of truly bad politics that will only be bad for all of our kids.

  12. Jill Miller Zimon Says:

    Agree re: Obama swapped places with Hillary on my list – they were neck and neck at the bottom, I kid you not. And I wrote frequently about how much I disliked the whole “JOIN” concept – that did in fact creep me out. But I knew that was me, and I knew it appealed to others and I knew it freaked out others way beyond what you could ever imagine.

    I do see it as more of the same and that the people who are proffering it are placing themselves more and more out on the fringe, more and more rejected by people with their feet planted on the ground, in reality and in favor of democracy, which involves taking lumps and realizing that someone with a different philosophy gets to give it a try. I was beside myself that Bush was ruled the victor over Gore, truly unhappy and sad about the result of SCOTUS. But that is our system and we soldier on, continue to function within the system.

    My biggest problem with this latest stunt is that it uses the kids as foils, it makes others suffer because of a group that is fearful or fostering fear and it is not based in any reality-based actual, demonstrable example from the past that what they fear could happen will – none whatsoever. We both went to law school – we know about that kind of thing – we call it a specious argument. And to send a message that specious arguments can win – well – I expect that from Antonin Scalia now and then, have even read it, but using it to thwart my kids education?

    I think we need to be prepared to have action plans in place to demonstrate the positive way to parent, not the scared of your own shadow or anyone else’s that doesn’t look like yours way of raising and teaching kids to grow up healthy.

  13. JMH Says:

    Before you bash schools that are “opting” out, you need to get the whole story. (Yes, there is more to what the Main Stream Media is telling you) Our school is opting out of the “live” speech because it will be broadcast during lunch. Do you really think our elementary kids will want to sit quietly and listen to a speech during lunch? Or, I guess we could keep them in to watch it after lunch, during recess, and then hear about how horrible it is that we don’t give them enough time to play and how we (schools) are causing children to become obese. The school WILL be taping the speech and letting teachers show it at a more reasonable time in their classrooms. Yes, parents can choose NOT to have their child watch it, just like ANY political speech that is shown in the classrooms. I wish people would get the WHOLE story instead of listening to a few extremes before spreading all of these rumors all over the media (Internet and blogs included)

    This is why I hate politics.

    A teacher in Ohio

  14. Gentry Says:

    I have no issue with the school taping the speech and showing it at a better time, nor a school (like my own in Ohio) providing an alternative place for the kids to go during the speech if they want to opt out. I was also amazed how close minded the protesters of the speech were. My superintended was flooded with emails of parents protesting the speech.

    Having said that, I think this worked more in favor in the long run. I think most people can not view the speech (the text was available on Monday) and see what irrational fear, hysteria, and paranoia can do. I belong to a moms group and we have a debate board and even those who were originally distrustful of Obama giving a speech have now said they would show it to their children. This is a good lesson in paranoia. At least the health care has some legitimate debates and areas that one can reasonably understand some of the objections. This was just over the top stupidity.

    I know some pro-Ron Paul type political thinkers who will still go on and on about how this isn’t constitutional. Personally, I think they like to ignore the fact that our nation/constitution, etc. is solely based on a DEMOCRACY…where THE PEOPLE (or at least the majority) get to decide. The majority of our great democratic nation do value a publicly funded education system across the board. The Ron Paul supporters often tend to ignore that fact/aspect of the constitution. Also, many of us respect and value the constitution but we feel that its a guide to how our founding father’s felt the nation should run (i.e. a static document) versus something that should be taken black and white and can be applicable to every aspect of modern society. To me, I’ve just never understood how you can make a constitutional argument for things like education, health care, etc. based on what “the founding father’s” believed because our society we live in today is so different than that of the Revolution. The founding father’s did not have to legislate laws for drunk driving (no cars!), or internet technology…why that is so difficult to understand is beyond me.


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