Friday, September 04, 2009

Back To School Politics

President Obama is planning on giving a “welcome back to school” speech directed to students on Tuesday. The text of his speech will be confined to the importance of education, and encouraging students to stay in school and study hard.

That is such a universal message, no one could be opposed to it being reinforced by the number one representative of our nation, right?

Hee hee hee. Okay, I was just kidding.

Of course politicians and pundits are furiously attacking the idea, claiming it is downright anti-American to allow the President of the United States to speak to our younger citizens.

Boycotts are being called for – let’s keep our kids out of school, lest they hear that school can be a good thing!

Now, before you start going off on one side or the other, I should point out that it isn’t just one side that feels that way – both political parties agree with each other on this issue.

Just not at the same time.

Back when the first President Bush directly addressed students in favor of studying hard, the Dems attacked it as unfair abuse of the office; while prominent Repubs made the claim that only self-absorbed idiots would oppose such an obvious good.

(They were right, by the way.)

So the Right states boldly that the President should and never should be allowed to address students on the topic of education; and the Left avers that the President should and should not be allowed to address students on the topic of education.

Some of y’all might find this contradictory – that someone would claim opposite sides of the same principle without at least an ironic wink to the camera as they do it.

But that is because you have forgotten the first rule of American politics: When a pundit or a politician speaks, chances are


Oh, sure, sometimes through coincidence, a Fox News pundit might say something he also happens to believe, or an MSNBC mouthpiece might take a position on an issue that in his or her non-actor persona they happen to agree with.

But the mistake is to think that the reason they said the thing to begin with is because they find it to be true.

For example, not one of the politicians or pundits mouthing off about this presidential back to school speech actually believe it is a bad idea for the President to encourage education.

What they do oppose is allowing this particular president be associated with a positive thing, because their primary job function is to prevent the other side from gaining any political points.

Just as their counterparts did not want that particular president in 1991 to be associated with a positive thing.

Of course they can’t say that, so instead they shout out whatever they think is most going to help their number one mission. No interest in truth; no interest in whether they believe it or not.

And they are cool with it, because they all know that the other guy doesn’t believe what they are saying either, so they don’t take it personally.

Are you among those that had trouble understanding how President Obama could be willing to partner with his sworn enemy, Senator Clinton, after she devoted so much time trying to convince the world that it would be dangerous to elect that man?

That’s because you forgot that Obama knew that Clinton did not mean anything she said. She wasn’t trying to inform the American public, or protect the people from a menace; she was just doing what they all do to get what she wanted.

So it would be silly to hold her to the things she said during the race when they were on opposing sides.

The problem is that while the pundits and politicians know that they don’t believe a thing they say, the people who hear them don’t always realize that.

They think they are hearing truth; and often believe it themselves, get riled up, and act out on the assumption that they are following voices of truth.

Which is why, starting next week, I am going to offer a public service with a series of blog entries entitled:

“How to Know When a Pundit/Politician Doesn’t Believe What They Are Saying.”

See you then.

Just my thoughts,



David Goulet said...

Frankly, Sean, this type of candor and forthrightness when discussing politics is uncalled for.

Janet said...

Thank you, Sean... I "shared" this on FB, and some of my friends who don't know you have shared it forward.... A voice of sanity. Imagine that.

Personally, I'd love to see what the "opposition" speech would look like. You know, the one telling kids, "Drop out, don't study, aim low..."

Nickname unavailable said...

I got this from FB and I mostly disagree with what you purport. IF the objection is merely to the Prez-speak, I'd agree. Many media outlets, local paper and news included, report that the angst is not Obama, it is the agenda taking up anywhere from 40 minutes to hours of the rest of the day (Opt out? Right. NEA will do that!). And Clinton's appt is not due to her lack of belief in her words, as demonstrated by her real positioning in the grand scheme of statesmanship where she is at best 3rd in the pecking order where she should rule. And she has reacted accordingly. Rather her appt has an aura of, "Keep your friends close. Keep your enemies closer..." IMO.

Ann W. said...

Thanks Sean. I have no brilliant or clever comments, just a pure and simple thanks!