Friday, September 04, 2009

The Creepy 'Superintendent in Chief' Maneuver

Barack Hussein Obama is not Superintendent in Chief of America's public schools.

No president is, ever was, or should ever be.

The U.S. Constitution gives to the federal government no authority to establish, regulate, finance or control any public school for students Pre-K through 12. Zilch, zero, nada. It ain't in there. Look for yourself.

Congress has no such authority. The president has no such authority. The courts have no such authority.

I do not mind if a president of the United States, from time to time, wants to visit a classroom and read a story to the kids. Whatever. It's a public relations thing, and I recognize its value, but I would hope that most presidents have better things to do. (Yes, I know that George W. Bush was reading to school children on the morning of 9-11. I'm sure he felt it was very inconvenient.)

But for a president to schedule an address to all the public school children of America, as Mr. Obama has done, is entering dangerous constitutional and social waters.

It doesn't even matter what he will say. He could declare that "you kids need to pay attention, do your homework and bring your teacher an apple at least once a month" and I will still maintain that it is the wrong thing to do.


Because it sets a precedent. Presidential precedents can be persistent things.

William Howard Taft rose from his seat for a stretch in the middle of the 7th inning of a game between the Philadelphia Athletics and the Washington Senators on April 14, 1910. The crowd stood immediately, thinking he was leaving. His aching legs rested, he sat again, and the crowd followed suit. A legend, and a tradition was born.
I can live with that one, although I wish Mr. Taft had chosen the middle of the 5th inning instead.

Something similar happened with the State of the Union report. The Constitution requires a report from the president to the Congress. It doesn't say it has to be in the form of a speech. After presidents Washington and Adams left office, President Jefferson dropped the speech before Congress as "too monarchical." And that's the way it stayed until the Progressive Woodrow Wilson took office and reinstituted the "speech" before the joint sessions.

At least there's a constitutional underpinning for it.

Even if President Obama says nothing controversial or propagandistic next Tuesday, it sets a precedent that he and others will surely follow. There is something deeply creepy about the chief executive talking directly to the young people of the country. It is too reminiscent of the efforts made by Mussolini and Hitler to shore up their credentials with the young people of Italy and Germany on their campaigns to institute national socialist regimes, otherwise known as fascistic.

We do not need an Obama Youth movement in America. Sorry.

When the Department of Education (explain where the Constitution allows for that?) sends out materials suggesting that teachers direct their students to write how they will be of service to President Obama, it only reinforces the creepiness factor. It leaves a skeptic with the inescapable feeling that Mr. Obama truly wants to transform our country.

If you are a parent, keep your kids home. An extra day of vacation won't hurt them.

If you are a school administration, just say "no" to this creepy encroachment. Isn't the federal government already involved enough in the classroom?

If you plan to vote in 2010, remember this.

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At 7:59 AM, Blogger Dave said...

My initial reaction to this story was to be creeped out as well. I’ve decided to hold my judgment until I actually see what Obama says. But it’s my understanding that he’s not the first President to do this. Apparently back in 1991 President Bush did the same thing. Was that bad? Did it set a bad precedent? I’m not sure.

Things are crazy in the world and while I’m not happy with a lot of things that this administration is doing, I’m not ready to completely condemn this one yet. I’ll be sending my kids to school and will ask them all about what the President had to say. It’s a good opportunity to engage with them on issues of civics.


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