President Obama’s giving a speech Tuesday to the nation’s schoolchildren is not unprecedented; President George H.W. Bush did the same in 1991.
Opposing the other party’s president giving a speech to the nation’s schoolchildren also is not unprecedented, notes James Richardson at Red State.
Mr. Richardson cited Education Secretary Arne Duncan as saying the president’s speech will be apolitical and seek to “challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning.” But then came the punch line.
“Democrats, of course, sang a far different tune when a Republican was preparing to address the nation’s school children. Then-House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Missouri) said, ‘The Department of Education should not be producing paid political advertising for the President.’ To be clear, the Department of Education is only a tool of indoctrination when the Secretary of Education answers to a Republican President. When students are instructed to ‘help the president’ and no doubt support his anemic legislative agenda, it’s a teaching experience - namely the lesson of political double standards,” he wrote.
Mr. Richardson also linked to a more detailed account of the Bush furor, posted by David Catanese at KY3 Political Notebook. Mr. Catanese cited an Oct. 4, 1991, Washington Post account that read as follows:
“Democrats assailed the Bush Administration today for spending $26,750 in taxpayer money to hire a production company that oversaw President Bush’s telecast from an eighth-grade classroom here to schoolchildren around the country on Tuesday. The money came from the Education Department’s salary and expense budget. As a result, Representative William D. Ford, the Michigan Democrat who heads the House Education and Labor Committee, demanded that Education Secretary Lamar Alexander appear before the committee to defend his ‘spending scarce education dollars to produce a media event,’ ” the report read.
Did you hear that Mark Steyn said President Obama’s school speech was building a cult of personality akin to those of such dictators as Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and North Korea’s Kim Jong-il?
Only. He. Didn’t. As Mr. Steyn pointed out at National Review’s the Corner (the post was dryly titled “It’ll be in Bartlett’s by next week”) it was just reported that he had said that in the New York Times, and it was then repeated endlessly in the journalistic equivalent of the party game telephone.
At his Corner blog post and a link to Tim Blair’s blog at Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, Mr. Steyn detailed how “a significant percentage of American newspapering is little more than provincial wannabes doing New York Times karaoke” - the error was picked up in the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Examiner, the Las Vegas Sun and the Sacramento Bee.
The Times’ initial report read: “Mark Steyn, 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.”
Mr. Steyn then linked to a 54-second clip (he was substitute-hosting “The Rush Limbaugh Show”) helpfully archived by the anti-conservative site Media Matters that showed that the Times had gotten it 180 degrees wrong. The word “not” is a wonderful thing.
Mr. Steyn spoke of the now-repealed suggested essay assignment on what students can do to help the president as something “which I find sorta slightly unhealthy. I mean, it’s all part of the cult of personality. Obviously we’re not talking about the cult of personality on the kind of Kim Jong-il/Saddam Hussein scale. But I don’t see that it’s part of American education.”
Always the dry jokester, Mr. Steyn concluded his Corner post with, “Still, look on the bright side: My non-quote got more [mainstream media] coverage than (“green jobs” czar) Van Jones! Gotta know your priorities.”