Uncommon Sense

Published: September 5, 2009

By Jim Lichtman
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In words that I can only describe as abominably ignorant, a number of state legislators and others have said the following regarding President Obama’s planned address to school children regarding education and achievement via the Internet Tuesday.

Senator and candidate for governor of Oklahoma Randy Brogdon (R-Owasso): “President Obama has shown time and time again that he has little regard for the Constitution or our founding principles… is this the person we want addressing our children?’

Is this some “lost” episode of the Twilight Zone?

State Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, called Mr. Obama’s speech to students “indoctrination.”  “No president,” she continued, “Republican or Democrat, should interrupt the education process in this manner. Our children should not be exploited this way for partisan purposes.”

This is a joke, right, torn right from a headline of the satirical online newspaper The Onion?

The president’s speech to school kids around the country was announced weeks ago, but has only picked up steam recently due to conservative radio and TV pundits.

“Mark Steyn,” the New York Times wrote, “a Canadian author and political commentator, speaking on the Rush Limbaugh show on Wednesday, accused Mr. Obama of trying to create a cult of personality, comparing him to Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader.”

Yes, but who in their right mind would listen to that?

State Senator Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City:  “I’m concerned parental rights are being usurped by this.  This is akin to something you would see in North Korea or under Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. It attempts to create a cult of personality and goes directly against our personal liberties.”

According to the Times story, “The White House has said the speech will emphasize the importance of education and hard work in school, both to the individual and to the nation. The message is not partisan, nor compulsory, officials said.

“‘This isn’t a policy speech,’ said Sandra Abrevaya, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education. ‘It’s designed to encourage kids to stay in school. The choice on whether to show the speech to students is entirely in the hands of each school. This is absolutely voluntary.’”

“The Republican Party chairman in Florida, Jim Greer, said he ‘was appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology.’

I wonder where Mr. Greer’s outrage was when President’s George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan spoke to students.

Meanwhile, in Texas…

“I don’t want our schools turned over to some socialist movement,” said Brett Curtiss, from Pearland, Texas.  Curtiss plans to keep his three children home next Tuesday.

“In Houston, teachers have been asked to tell parents if they intend to show the speech and the schools will provide an alternative class for those whose parents object, a spokesman for the district, Lee Vela, said.”

However, Phyllis Griffin Epps, an analyst for the city of Houston, weighed-in with this piece of common sense:  “It’s difficult for me to understand how listening to the president, the commander in chief, the chief citizen of this country, is damaging to the youth of today.”

“Common sense,” the French philosopher Voltaire once wrote, “is not so common.”


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