Friday, September 4, 2009

GOP Up in Arms Over ... Education Speech?

When is telling the children of America to stay in school, study hard and take their education seriously a bad thing?

Apparently, when this country's first African-American president is the one saying these things.

President Barack Obama will give a major speech on Tuesday, Sept. 8 regarding the importance of education. The speech, which will be televised live at noon EST on C-SPAN and the White House's website, will be directed at the nation's school children. Obama is expected to highlight the things I mentioned above, looking to use his considerable personal appeal and oratory skills to highlight the importance of getting a good education.

Think of it as an academic pep talk.

Almost like clockwork, though, the not-so-sane members of the right wing (I know, is there any other kind?) are coming out in opposition of the speech, calling it an attempt to indoctrinate America's children and use their return to school as a chance for political agenda-setting. Never mind when George H.W. Bush did the same thing in 1991 ... or when the beloved Ronald Reagan addressed school children in a speech in 1986.

Oklahoma state Sen. Steve Russell, a Republican, offered this tasty little nugget on Thursday: "As far as I'm concerned, this is not civics education -- it gives the appearance of creating a cult of personality. This is something you'd expect to see in North Korea or Saddam Hussein's Iraq."

So now Obama, who has been called a socialist and communist and likened to Adolf Hitler, is now being compared with the late Iraqi dictator. Frankly, I'm surprised it's taken the GOP this long, since Obama's middle name is Hussein.

Then again, Republicans have always been a little on the slow side ...

Some school districts -- including those in Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Virginia and Wisconsin -- have decided not to show the speech to their classes. Other schools are letting parents opt their children out of class if they don't want them viewing the speech.

I wonder whatever happened to respect for the Office of the President. When I was in school, if the President was speaking to schoolchildren, not only would we watch, we'd watch eagerly. Now, it seems that if you disagree with Obama -- or apparently you can't stand the color of his skin -- you can deprive children of the important message he has to deliver.

What happened to this country? Since when did we go from a nation of respectful yet differing ideals to one in which everyone shouts over each other battling for space on the air waves? What is so dangerous about the leader of this country telling this nation's children how important it is to succeed in school?

Really, where's the harm?

Taxpayer dollars are not being spent to "spread President Obama's solicalist ideologies," as Florida GOP chairman Jim Greeg suggested on Wednesday. He is not indoctrinating anyone into anything; it's simply a message of the importance of education for a long, successful life.

Since when is that such a bad thing?

Memo to the GOP: the next time you want to let your racist opinions direct you into criticizing the President's moves, innocent though they may be, you need to do a better job of masking that vitriol. Virtually everyone with a brain now knows that "socialist" and "communist" are just code for the word you really want to say, but know you can't.

Comparing the President to Saddam Hussein doesn't help your cause either.

If you have a legitimate criticism or honest idea about something, by all means speak up. Otherwise, sit down, duct-tape that disgusting mouth of yours and let the President, who apparently is the only grown-up left in the room, have the floor.

You guys had your shot earlier this decade, and it was a catastrophic failure. Shut up, enjoy your irrelevance and go away.

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