President Obama gave a speech to school age children. Before he even gave the speech, the religious right, the ultra-conservative, the wingnuts of the world, mostly Republicans were appalled.
The President's address to kids actually was a pep talk.
The president charged students to find what they're good at and stick with it. He also encouraged every student to understand that they each have something to offer their nation. The president also said that support from parents and teachers won't matter if the kids don't take responsibility for their own success.
The speech didn't include any references to controversial issues, such as health care reform, although one student did ask the president why we don't have universal health care.
All the controversy over the address initially stemmed from a line where President Obama encouraged the students to "help the president." The White House revised that line before he spoke.
So why were Republicans appalled?
Did any Republican remember that Republican Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and George H.W. Bush both addressed school kids during their terms in office.
On April 15, 1907, Republican president Theodore Roosevelt issued a strong "Message to School Children" addressing the need for conservation and the importance of our environment. At the end of his message, President Roosevelt asked the youngest citizens to go out and help the president - by planting trees. Here's an excerpt:Maybe they forgot that on November 14, 1988, President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation's schoolkids.We of an older generation can get along with what we have, though with growing hardship; but in your full manhood and womanhood you will want what nature once so bountifully supplied and man so thoughtlessly destroyed; and because of that want you will reproach us, not for what we have used, but for what we have wasted... Source: New York Times Archives - Roosevelt to ChildrenOn October 1, 1991, on the eve of the 1992 campaign, President George HW Bush gave a speech at Alice Deal junior high school in DC. Bush specifically asked the students to "Let me know how you're doing. Write me a letter. I'm serious about this one. Write me a letter about ways you can help us achieve our goals." You can watch an excerpt by clicking here. And most famously, President George W. Bush was sitting in an elementary school classroom when he learned of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
His address, including a 'Q & A', was pumped live, via CSPAN, into classrooms all around the country. Reagan grabbed this opportunity to push tax reform. Here's an excerpt:Q. My name is Cameron Fitzhugh, and I'm from St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Virginia. I was wondering if you think that it's possible to decrease the national debt without raising the taxes of the public?
The President. I do. That's a big argument that's going on in government. And I definitely believe it is because one of the principal reasons that we were able to get the economy back on track and create those new jobs and all was we cut the taxes. We reduced them because, you see, the taxes can be such a penalty on people that there's no incentive for them to prosper and earn more and so forth because they have to give so much to the Government. And what we have found is that at the lower rates the Government gets more revenue. There are more people paying taxes because there are more people with jobs. And there are more people willing to earn more money because they get to keep a bigger share of it. Source: Reagan gave Obama-like speech to school children in 1988, Below the Beltway
And the Republican parents forcing truancy on their children that day? Probably none.
Can you imagine what the right's reaction would be if President Obama said something even remotely similar?
The fear in the air is being elevated by the mainstream news as real instead of unsubstantiated right-wing rantings.