Our kids need President Obama's wisdom Michael Daly Updated Tuesday, September 8th 2009, 10:08 AM
The start of school has been moved ahead a day, so our kids will miss some hard-earned wisdom from the man who proved anyone really can grow up to be President.
They will also miss a perfect opportunity to discuss why nut-job conservatives got into such a tizzy
over President Obama's back-to-school speech Tuesday to students across the country about the importance of assuming responsibility for their education. Why did people who thought it was fine for the first President George Bush to address millions of schoolkids decide it was an outrage for Obama to do the same? Are these the same people who are the most vocal against his efforts to institute universal health care?
Does their vehemence really arise from their objections to Obama's politics?
Do they really just dislike Obama himself? And is this dislike related less to his politics than his race? Is the supposedly political opposition really just a cover for people afraid to say they can't accept a black man in the White House?
If that is so, if they are (barely) secret racists, do they become particularly unhinged at the thought of a black President addressing their children?
Or do the nut jobs honestly believe what they say? Do they actually think schoolkids are endangered by hearing their President say, "Now, I know it's not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork. I get it. I know what that's like. My father left my family when I was 2 years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn't always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn't fit in."
Do the conservatives really think kids should not hear the President go on to say, "But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life - what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you've got going on at home - that's no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That's no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That's no excuse for not trying."
What parent would not want the President to tell kids, "You can't let your failures define you - you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn't mean you're a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn't mean you're stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying. No one's born being good at things. You become good at things through hard work."
How can any American not be glad for the President to further counsel kids, "And even when you're struggling, even when you're discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you - don't ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country. The story of America isn't about people who quit when things got tough. It's about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best."
What American would not cheer when the President says, "I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don't let us down - don't let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud."
Our own kids would have started the year with those words, but deals between the city and the teachers and principals unions moved the start of classes from today to tomorrow.
And no kid can be expected to come in from playing to tune the TV past the Disney Channel to a message from the President, even one so profoundly and historically cool as Obama.
Tomorrow, partly in answer to the nut jobs, more for the sake ofour kids, every school in the city should begin by playing Obama's message.
A discussion should immediately follow as to why anybody would not want them to hear it. email@example.com