Reactions run the gamut but more typically hang on the one of two poles. Those against it generally agree it is not very timely in the light of recent controversies over health care. Those who think itís as normal as apple pie say it is about staying in school and the promise of what a better education affords. Both of these answers are but the tip of the iceberg.
The typical reaction across the board is like the one found in Mercury News September 04, 2009. ď"As far as I am concerned, this is not civics education ó it gives the appearance of creating a cult of personality," said Oklahoma State Sen. Steve Russell, also a Republican.ĒThis is something you'd expect to see in North Korea or in Saddam Hussein's Iraq."
The White House has its own answer to the furor and is typified in the answer given by the White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. "I think we've reached a little bit of the silly season when the president of the United States can't tell kids in school to study hard and stay in school; I think both political parties agree that the dropout rate is something that threatens our long-term economic success."
The Presidents Press Secretary is bound to defend the plan so there is no way to use his reaction to get to the truth. But only a couple of drops of the old ďoil of common senseĒ are all thatís needed to deduce whatís bothering the rest of America.
So far the reaction is said to have caused a rushed re-write of the address to exclude some of the initial wording and the essay question may be dropped at least for children in the upper grades.
The polished version which is supposed to be published online by Monday September 7, 2009 will probably do little to quiet the fears of most Americans, but why? Simply put, it is more than fear they are motivated by, but in part is a feeling that they have been recently insulted by both President and White House.
Following recent Townhall gatherings across the nation Americans who protested against Obamaís health care proposals were labeled as domestic terrorists, professional protestors, unruly trouble makers and rioters. What stroke of genius is needed to see that after calling citizens by these names they may not want their children drawn aside against their will and addressed by the same contingent that thinks so badly of them? Even the school children about to be addressed might react with a, duh.
The President and his staff seem to be woefully unaware that conservatives canít be glibly labeled as flag wavers and trouble makers without feeling insulted. They have not taken into account that the children of conservatives may not want to be addressed by the same people who have so recently insulted their parents.
Respect for parents is one of those things beyond mere flag waving that is a deep and abiding part of conservatism. After insulting the parents in conservative families now the President wants to line up the children and encourage them? On that level it is clear that the White House is totally unaware that theyíve already lost millions of listening ears among those children.
Other fears and objections come from the repetitive references to the President in the speech. According to early reports there are 18 such references. The plan, the agenda the gist of the address is clearly only more of the rhetoric of the Obama campaign even though it is said to be an effort to get kids to stay in school. The agenda superimposed over the alleged purpose of the message is clearly personal and far above mere politics in the eyes of many Americans.
It may not be hard to sell a pop culture kind of President to youth so enamored with todayís pop culture society but letís not insult their parents even more than they have already been in recent days. Terms like personality cult, politicization and using the back door approach are not coming from anger alone. These terms are born out of the fruit of the first seven months of the Obama administrations willingness to ignore the will of the people in almost every policy proposal and appointment made since he took office.
Trying to bypass parents to grab some attention or power is insulting enough but it is the essay part of the address that irks parents the most. Where will these essays be stored and how will they be used? Will they be read in the 2012 campaign for Obamaís re-election or will they end up in the Obama Presidential library someday? But the real question is; which ones?
They wonít all be flattering because school children can not be expected to say only what has been rehearsed. Laura Ingraham of Fox News said she had her daughter well prepped to answer or respond to the address if she needed to but you can believe she is not alone. Not all the children of conservative families will be kept home. What might the essays of these children look like and what of the questions they may raise?
If questions are lobbed back at the Presidentís questions what might they ask? Some of those questions could be as follows.
Mr. President, why are you so willing to let unborn children be aborted? If my Mommy gets pregnant will my little brother or sister be aborted too? Would you ask her not to do that?
Mr. President, why have you left so many bills behind for me to pay when I grow up? My parents say that both I and the other kids will owe nine trillion dollars and so far I can only count up to one hundred.
Mr. President, when will you show your birth certificate to people like my mom did so I could go to this nice school? You know the one with my doctorís name on it and my footprint. If I get a copy of it can I post it on the internet and be President someday like you did or do I have to show it to the people so they can check it first? I would be glad to come to your house and help you look for your birth certificate if you want me to. Donít forget to look under your bed for it or some place else where you hide things.
Mr. President, why have you or some of your friends called my parents terrorists? Arenít they the people who blew up those two beautiful buildings in New York? My dad says they are very bad people, do you think my parents are bad like them?
Mr. President, when you went to those other countries over there you said America is not a Christian country. My parents said we are. They said that many of the people who came here first and wrote all our laws and our constitution were Christians who love Jesus. Do you love Jesus too? You seem like a very nice man but who should I believe you or my parents?
Mr. President, you asked me what I would do to help you. I saw a picture of you a long time ago before you got to be President and everyone was saying the pledge of allegiance to the flag except you. If you donít know the words I could help you to learn them if you want.
Mr. President, someone said that you think we cling real tight to our Bibles. My dad is very strong and I guess he holds his bible really tight but he says itís more important to get the words out of it and put them in his heart so he can love other people. Do you have those words in your heart?
No these are not real questions from real students but if the President does collect millions of essays from American school children it is not hard to imagine that some of them will read like this. What will come of those answers and the questions they may raise? For now it is enough to say that children are without malice but they have the most finely tuned intuition and vision of all of us. Their answers may be generally innocent but watch out for the honesty that only a child can produce, nothing could be more damaging to the ego. The Bible says it another way.
ďIn that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.Ē Luke 10:21
http://www.americanprophet.org is the place for news, articles, movie and book reviews and other insights for life. Rev Bresciani is a columnist for online and print publications and has over three million readers and counting.