Aftermath of the Great Speech

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September 8, 2009 | Comments

I felt kind of nauseous most of the day. All because of the President’s speech today to the schools.

I read the text of the speech yesterday (remember, they had to release the text to appease us wingnuts).  It was fine and dandy, just as I expected. Carefully crafted. Expertly designed to answer all the criticisms that arose over the last week when it was announced the President would be addressing the nation’s schoolkids. What kind of barbarian can object to a President, especially this President, urging kids to work hard, be responsible, stay in school, all that exalted stuff? Well, a barbarian like me, I guess.

The speech was fine, but I just couldn’t shake that pesky “original intent” thing – the accompanying lesson plan that, before backlash revision, asked kids to “help the President.” After my call to the school district last Friday got me nowhere, as a parent, I had to make my own decision and do what I thought was right. And my decision was no, I’m not buying.

The kids and I looked at the speech yesterday. Nothing new for them. They’ve heard it all before. At home. Many times. As it should be. Today one school aired it, one didn’t. I politely told the one that did that my youngest would not be participating. Apparently, according to an NBC pundit this morning who shall remain nameless, I am thus too stupid to raise my own kids. This was the same guy, who, on the morning of the 2008 election, proclaimed LBJ to be one of the greatest Presidents in history, so I’m not putting much stock in his assessment.

My reason for resistance was not that I feared indoctrination, and, as my offspring would tell you, I’m not one who believes in wholesale sheltering or isolation. No, it was the principle. I have taught my kids that what matters isn’t what they say, but what they do. The same applies to those around them, as well. This national event, following on the heels of debate about all the President’s czars (one of whom — an avowed communist and so-called “9/11 truther”– stepped down this weekend), set the perfect example.

A pretty speech does not erase the fact that I find this administration’s actions dangerous and diametrically opposed to what I want for my country and my family – and what is outlined in our Constitution. I was nevertheless left feeling tonight like a lone voice in the wilderness, so much so that I have second guessed today’s decisions over and over. Had I to do it again, perhaps I would have chosen a different path. Perhaps not. I don’t know. I guess this is what made me nauseous.

But I found my elixir tonight when I spotted a random quote from Sir Winston Churchill. I was reminded of an image once described to me of those dark days in the 1930s when the British Parliament was scrambling to appease the escalating aggressions of Adolph Hitler, assuming that would keep their island nation safe. But there among them could be heard one lone voice: “This is a terrible mistake.” Indeed I have always found strength in Sir Winston’s courage, not simply in standing strong against the Axis powers during World War II, but standing strong himself in the lead-up to the war, when his belief in what was right and what was dangerous made him one of the most vilified men in Britain.

So I will use Sir Winston’s strength to quiet my own lonely inner conflict. And the words of the brilliant Tammy Bruce, too, who said last week that “you are your child’s moral tutor, not that shady lawyer from Chicago.” As for my second guessing, well, as I told my husband tonight, “I have to get over this. I’ve never been a parent during an attempted socialist-fascist-whatever-this-is takeover of the government before.” Sir Winston knows what I mean.

Betsy Siino | Comments