This Is No Picnic for Me Either, Buster


President Obama will speechify to K-12 students tomorrow.

Some conservatives have accused the president of attempting to indoctrinate students. I think that’s a bogus criticism, and if you read the speech, I think you’ll agree. It’s boring.

My problem was with the initial Department of Education suggested lesson plans for kids who watch the speech. One suggestion was to ask the students how they could help the president. My suggestion? Tell him to leave the country well enough alone. I doubt that’s the kind of help the president is seeking, however. Thankfully, the D of E revised that suggested lesson plan.

A couple of lines stood out to me: “We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.” You’re quitting on your country? Is the president accusing bad students of being…unpatriotic?

Or how about this one: “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.” Uh, I’m as patriotic as the next guy, but I found this statement more than little bit creepy. When you give up on yourself, you give up on your country? Surely our beloved president jests…

My favorite line was a personal story the president told about his mother tutoring him at 4:30 a.m. When he complained, his mother said: “This is no picnic for me either, buster.” After reading this speech, I know how she must’ve felt.

Here’s a link to the speech: http://www.whitehouse.gov/MediaResources/PreparedSchoolRemarks/

One thought on “This Is No Picnic for Me Either, Buster

  1. Standard political and educational feel-good-speak. Meh. Whatever. The goal isn’t to have the phrases pulled apart and analyzed, the goal is to have a pleasant and uplifting general mood to encourage the kids. There need to be a couple good catch-phrases to catch kids attention and also to be quoted by news stories.

    If you go into almost every single political speech ever given and start analyzing the particular phrases – you’re going to very quickly wind up with a bunch of confusing nonsense. The speeches aren’t designed to be pulled apart for specific and precise meaning. Most people don’t communicate in that way; people communicate by general tone and meaning, not precise definition of phrases.

    That’s basic Public Speechifying 101. Things change when you’re actually trying to pass along information and data. Most public speeches aren’t trying to do that – the more diverse the audience, the less information to be communicated, the less specific the speech will be.

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