Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Obama's speech to schoolchildren

I'm sure that Barack Obama's speech tomorrow to the nation's schoolchildren will be the typical sort of pablum poured out over the heads of young people in the hopes that some of it will stick to them without in any way offending them, their parents, or major party donors. The president, acting in his unofficial capacity as Principal-in-Chief, will go electronically into our nation's federal schools (oh, not yet, but who are we kidding with our continued pretense that education isn't a homogenized national product instead of something small, local, old and particular)? and remind the kiddies to study hard, get good grades, and become productive members of society. Because people who don't necessarily study hard or get good grades, people who abuse various substances and can't hold down a private sector job--end up in Congress, and Lord knows we have enough of them.

But if the president were fearless enough to be honest, and honest enough to say what a lot of us think he would say, I think his speech to schoolchildren would go something like this:

Good afternoon, boys and girls and gay and lesbian and transgendered and questioning youth of America, and of other countries who are enjoying American education free of charge. I'm glad that I can be here with you today, because as your president I particularly enjoy that I can say the word "I" a lot in speeches--it's so easy to read on the teleprompter.

As you know, I believe in the value of a good education. I myself received an excellent education as a child. I attended a Catholic school in Indonesia through the third grade, went to an Indonesian public school in the fourth grade, and then from fifth grade through high school I attended an exclusive private school in Hawaii. My one year in a foreign public school qualifies me to talk to all of you about how to make the most of your public school education.

And I know that most of you find school really, really boring. All I can say to that is: wait until you get to Congress. I found it helped a lot to arrive to meetings late. Now, I can't condone that as an educational strategy, but if you show up on time for school and for your classes, one day you, too, will be able to be important enough to be late for all your meetings and jobs.

You need to study hard in school. Most rich people are pretty smart, and if you want to surround yourself with rich people and maybe have some of them become friends or even donors to your political action committees, you're going to have to fit in. If someone references Greek philosophy or Shakespeare in some witty way, and you're the guy who doesn't laugh, you get pegged as not rich and not smart. There was this one guy in the Illinois State Senate...well, never mind. But study hard, so you can move in the right circles.

You need to do your homework, too. I can tell you that it's important to do your homework. Otherwise, when someone asks you, say, why you voted for partial birth abortion you might say you didn't. And then someone else will prove that you did. And then you have to make something up, about how you were for it before you were against it, or something. I know from experience that that is embarrassing. So when I tell you to do your homework, take it from me, I know what I'm talking about.

Speaking of abortion, I'd like to remind you to pay attention in health class. You're young. Every adult knows, I know, your parents know, that the whole idea of abstinence is pretty silly from where you sit. But learn all about pills and condoms and the phone number of the nearest abortion clinic. Nothing will ruin your chances of success like being punished with a baby.

And success is hard to come by. There are only so many government jobs we can hand out to people like you. Now, I'm working on changing that. One day, some of you will be government employees called "doctors" or "nurses" or "hospital administrators" or "insurance agents." If I can just get health care reform passed, there will be plenty of government jobs to go around. I know in this tough global economy you will be grateful to study for eight years in college to become a doctor and make at least $40,000 a year. Guaranteed. I know--sounds good, doesn't it? But those evil greedy Republicans don't want health care reform to pass. They don't want you to be rewarded for all your hard years of work and study with a good job working for Uncle Sam.

I know you all have goals. Maybe you want to be a government doctor, or a government lawyer, or a government Native American casino operator. Maybe you want to be a government educator, or a government wealth re-distributor. Maybe you have dreams of being a government scientist or government military leader. Or maybe, like me, you dream of being a government legislator and quickly jumping to the job of Government Chief Executive.

Whatever your goals and dreams, I know you'll find a way for the America you know and love to finish educating you, to employ you, to reward you for your employment, and to keep making you promises of hope and change through people like me. If you stay in school, if you finish school, if you direct your government-given talents in a way that works for the good of all, maybe you, too, will one day become president.

And don't worry. Like me, you'll be able to keep your grades a secret.


Seany River said...

Who let the snark out? Who? Who?

(Psssss....Good job!)

Kerri said...

Love it! I read it in my best Obama voice inside my head.

Irenaeus said...

Oh, c'mon! Dreher says it's no big deal.

Scott W. said...

Having worked with youth, I'm relying on their keen ability to sniff out a gratuitous propaganda exercise.

Magister Christianus said...

This is beautiful! Well done! I have no idea if the actual speech is being broadcast anywhere at the school where I teach. It is likely I will not get to see it live. One can only hope it would be so honest as your version.

freddy said...


Lara said...

This is idiotic. So small-minded and petty.

Red Cardigan said...

Lara, it's parody. I leave you to investigate the definition. :)

Rebecca said...

Loved it Red!

LarryD said...

Needed a couple 'Let me perfectly clear"'s and one or two "Now is the time". Obviously you haven't listened to any of Obama's speeches.

hee hee Great job!

CMinor said...

It's scary--I could hear him giving this speech.

KSmith said...

Wow, do you leave your narrow-minded world often? This is funny, but not in the way you intended it!

freddy said...

Wow, KSmith, judgmental *and* a mind reader! With talent like that maybe you should write your own blog!

Anonymous said...

President Obama's speech to young people in this time and for this time: pabulum, not pablum.

Red Cardigan said...

Anonymous: sure, if you think it's the president's job to be the spoon-feeder-in-chief of the young.

KSmith, one of the worst insults a liberal can offer to a person is that this person is "narrow-minded." Not being a liberal, I take that as a compliment, and would be horrified if someone thought I were "broadminded" with the usual connotations of that word.

Anonymous said...

Webster's New Universal Unabridged (1996):

Pablum: "1. a brand of soft, bland cereal for infants or 2. trite, naive, or simplistic ideas or writings; intellectual pap."

pabulum: "1. something that nourishes of animal or vegetable origin, or 2. material for intellectual nourishment, or 3. pablum."

The President 'addressing' children from the chief executive's office is rather more a positive statement than ignoring their contribution to the future of American society, no matter if the content is Pablum.

Speaking directly from the hot seat to young people as a whole is not quite the same thing as dribbling Gerber's into a dutifully opened gullet, such as in spoon-feeding an unformed or untrained mind.

Frankly, by the end of his second term GW had firmly lost much of his cred with young people (that sector of society usually characterized as 'almost growed' and associated with traits of impetuosity, forthrightness, usually honest, and a degree of immaturity), so whatever he might have said in speaking about any topic might have been considered Pablum.

Mentioning that Pres. Obama has an all-time low approval rating at this time in our nation lacks cred, considering we're less than 25% into this term and some rather incredible events have already taken place, given the platter that was passed to him.

But, this comment may be regarded as a predictable knee-jerk reaction from someone who sees slights on the current Administration akin to personal attacks. Such is the force of political fray tone we're in these days; agitation and general peevishness expressed any time day or night on airwaves, soundbites, in newsprint, and at the pharmacy counter.

Red Cardigan said...

Anonymous, do you *really* think that the president will be providing "material for intellectual nourishment" in a brief speech that exhorts kids to stay in school?

I guess I'm skeptical about the premise.

Robynn said...

You're a clever writer and clearly intelligent...but really, what is wrong with a president delivering a message of hope to schoolchildren? And what is wrong with our nation's children respecting their president? I would think it unpatriotic otherwise. If children are invested and engaged in their goals, then they are much less likely to get into problems such as teen pregnancy. Perhaps you have an issue with the fact that it is Obama who is providing inspiration, without looking at the potential positive effects.