By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

No comparison

Conservative pundit Byron York has written a piece for the Washington Examiner reminding us that Democrats protested when President George H.W. Bush delivered a televised address to schoolchildren in 1991.

As described by York (and a contemporaneous New York Times account backs him up), the Democrats’ protest was deeply stupid. But, as York notes, the protests came after Bush’s speech, and were about money, not motives.

If York wants us to believe there’s any moral equivalence between what the Democrats said 18 years ago and Republican protests that President Obama would indoctrinate impressionable minds with socialist ideas, well, he’s going to have to do better than that.

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  1. lkcape

    Dan, the offensive part of the Obama speech hoohaa was not the speech, it was the Education Department’s inserting itself in the development of the curriculum that surrounded it. That sort of effort is explicitly excluded from the DOE’s charter. Blame Congress for that, not those who called the attention to DOE’s improper action.

  2. Neil

    What does York say about tomorrow’s speech?

    York is implicitly arguing argument “the democtats did it first.” DK counters and says “not the same.”

    But what does York say about the merits of the objections to tomorrow’s speech? Isn’t that really the issue? We have the speech, we have the lesson plan, which was retracted and we have the wing-nut sheep who are taking their kids out of school for the day.

    More importantly IMO, discussing these issues on the merits is missing the overarching picture. We have a right-wing media fomenting fear and outrage and its gone mainstream to the extent that its taking over the country’s political discourse while crowding out significant issues like war and peace in Iraq and Afghanistan, health care reform, tort reform, et cetera.

    The hullabaloo over the president’s speech to grade school children about personal responsibility and academic accomplishment, like Van Jones’ hullabaloo about his “communism” and accountability as a ‘czar’ in Obama’s WH (advising on green jobs), it is right-wing media constructed political outrage. Teabaggers, birthers, gun-toting anti-health care reform, and now:

    The president is indoctrinating our kids.

    It’s pure political bull hockey.

    You need to watch FOXNews more often DK. You’re missing the big picture.

  3. Dunque

    Thanks for clearling that up Ikcape. This link still works.'s-Address-to-Students-Across-America-September-8-2009

    It’s more than slightly creepy.

  4. aml

    Instead of just saying ‘no comparison’, an interesting approach is to assume it is valid and follow the reasoning from there:

    The president gave a speech to schoolchildren rebroadcast into public schools. The opposition party complains, holds hearings and finds no impropriety. Years go by and presidents and opposition parties change a few times. When another president wants to make a speech to children in public schools, can we take the results of the previous hearings as precedent that this is allowable? I would think so, but this seems like it is being argued again on first principles.

    (I guess the difference is that in 1991, the issue was argued by House Education and Labor Committee and the GAO. Now in 2009, the issue is being argued in the press.)

  5. I’m glad the Education Dept. tweaked the program a bit and took out all the feel-good gobblygook. As I wrote to some folks, it reminded me of those sickening prayer books some Christian groups handed out to the troops asking them to pray for the president, pray to make him stronger so he can lead the nation, ad nausea, something that really offended this Christian [if anything, the president and everyone else should be praying for the troops to return safely already] … That said, while I have no problem with the president speaking to middle-schoolers and high-schoolers, I think elementary school is a bit young. So, I’m glad he stuck with the wash your hands, do your homework …

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