Building the Cult of Obama, Starting with Kindergarten

by Clint Bolick
When his public approval ratings are plummeting, what’s a president to do? One possible answer: address a captive audience of millions of highly impressionable young minds, and follow it up with educational “lessons” that induce a positive image of the president.

That is what is happening today with President Obama’s unprecedented address to the nation’s schoolchildren. Preaching personal responsibility and perseverance–positive qualities, to be sure–the speech nonetheless contradicts them by disrupting the school day.

The blitzkrieg approach to the national message caught parents and school officials unaware. Some districts are leaving the choice whether to air the speech to individual schools. Others are allowing parents to opt their kids into alternative activities. Still others, including the Tempe Elementary School District, are offering no opt-outs at all. My son’s charter school, Benchmark School, is telling parents if they want their kids to see the speech, they should TiVo it: math and reading will be taught during the school day instead.

While many view the speech as a useful civics lesson, others such as Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne aren’t so sure. Horne helpfully posted the lesson plans put out by the U.S. Department of Education to precede and follow Obama’s speech. Discussion points include:

“Why does President Obama want to speak with us today? How will he inspire us?”
“What resonated with you from President Obama’s speech?”
“Why is it important that we listen to the President?”
“What do you think it takes to be President?” 
“What other historic moments do you remember when the President spoke to the nation?”

Civics or indoctrination? For once, a Latin phrase I learned in law school comes in handy: res ipsa loquitor–the thing speaks for itself.

Clint Bolick is director of the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation.


  1. Boy, based upon the speech I just saw, this is just kind of embarassing.

    What, did the Goldwater Institute set up a scheduled task to post this, and forgot to take it down?

  2. “My son’s charter school, Benchmark School, is telling parents if they want their kids to see the speech, they should TiVo it: math and reading will be taught during the school day instead.”

    Just one ore reason to send your children to a Charter School……

    Klute: The speech you just saw was NOT the orig one — ‘Somehow’, and for ‘some reason’, the content was drastically changed….as were the “talking points”, ie, “teaching plan”…………..for embarrassment, take a look @ “The One” & his staff……

  3. My faith in the American people has been reinvigorated. I can’t imagine that if Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, either of the Bushes, or even Bill Clinton, had wanted to speak to the nation’s school kids, anyone would have too much of a concern. But Obama tries and a huge red flag of concern is raised. A lot of Americans may like BO, or think he’s charismatic, but most don’t trust him. That’s great news for our future.

  4. “Klute: The speech you just saw was NOT the orig one”

    Whatever you’ve gotta believe to prove to yourself your not paranoid and reactionary, you run with that.

    “— ‘Somehow’, and for ’some reason’, the content was drastically changed….as were the “talking points”, ie, “teaching plan”………….”

    It doesn’t matter, the “original speech” is currently being beamed to your children via braces and their fillings. Next time parents, avoid taking your kids to Dr. Bildeberger, Orthodontist.

    “.for embarrassment, take a look @ “The One” & his staff……”

    Oh, snap! This is the “I’m rubber, you’re glue” school of political debate… I believe Aristotle covered this in “On Politics”. I am impressed!

  5. Mark Phillips says

    I got to be honest with you. I just don’t see why the author and others like him are so stressed out about the President’s speech. Hero worship? Give me a break. Remember when you were that age, and you were learning about Eisenhower, Kennedy, Reagan. Ike was the war hero and he was leading the way to connect east and west north and south with interstate system. Kennedy was the future, the moon and beyond. And Reagan was making Americans feel good about themselves again. That’s what we were told in grade school. There was no critical analysis of policy at that age. Did you complain then as a student? Did your parents believe you were being subverted. Your mind melded into being a republican or a democrat for ever! I really hope the kids who didn’t get to see the speech go home and ask their parents why wouldn’t you let me watch the President? What are you afraid of? I wonder how honest they’ll be.

  6. Annie Hoyle says

    It isn’t the speech itself that bothers me.. it is that BO chose to address our children apart from their parents. This is something that could have been done during Prime Time with Parents present for awesome family discussion! Parents are the primary educators of their children! Helping a child build self confidence and personal goals is the responsibility of parents! Removing parents from this equation is just suspect to me!

  7. Annie,

    Obama agrees with you. From the speech:

    “I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done…”

    “Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed…”

    “So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.”

    How is any of that “removing parents from this equation”?

    I wish you people would just be honest about it like Pastor Anderson in Tempe. At least we would be able to know exactly where everyone stands without this subtrefuge.

  8. Oops! I forgot: the Democrats went apoplectic when George H W Bush spoke to school kids–even holding Cogressional hearings. And, of course, the NEA denounced the speech as a waste of taxpayer dollars. On the otherhand, the NEA has applauded BO for his speech to kids–and where are the Congressional hearings? Oh, yeah, not a negative word from the Dems.

  9. Ron,

    Which is obviously equal to comparing it the spark that lead to the extermination of 6 million people, or the enslavement of a hundred.

    Total equivalency there, you’re right.

  10. Sorry, “hundred” = “hundred million”.

  11. When I read the speech last night I found it pretty acceptable and actually good in spots. Then I got to the last (full) paragraph and came across the line “I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn.”

    Silly me! I always thought that it was the local taxpayers (inc. parents), local school boards and school administrators who were working hard to fix up classrooms, etc.

    I think that what Obama wanted to say was ” I’m working hard to increase federal involvement in local schools.” The speechwriter must have taken that line out.

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