My DMN Column is Up, Read it and Weep. Or Something.

It’s in tomorrow’s print edition, but it’s online now. Here’s a taste – but the rest is on their site. Link below.

No, You Can’t, Mr. President

There’s no doubt the presidential address directed to the captive audience of the nation’s schoolchildren Tuesday will be nonpartisan and positive. Chock full of “study hard and stay in school.”

The problem? It’s not his place to deliver it.

That’s why my first-grader won’t have any part in this.

I know some people will say that we live in a democracy, he’s the national leader and the people voted for him.

Those people are wrong on all three counts. We’re a republic. He’s the president of a federation of states. And a majority of the members of the electoral college voted for him.

What could further cement this fundamental, dangerous misperception of the proper, limited role and power of the president’s office than to have him beamed into every classroom speaking virtually ex cathedra? I got nothing.

By the way, see how I haven’t mentioned the president’s name? That’s intentional…

The complete column is posted here.

Also, early yet, but already an awesome comment:

Is it because the president is a democrat? Is it because the president is black? Is it because the internet has turbocharged stupidity? Could be all or none of the above. Regardless, you should be ashamed of your role in fanning the flames.

UPDATE: From PeterK, Jawa Report has it all over me on this paragraph:

I don’t know about the rest of you parents, but if he doesn’t actually promise a Skittles shitting unicorn in every house, my 3rd grader probably won’t be listening. Because, like most girls in third grade, her free time is consumed with dreams of 3rd grade princesses frolicking in pastures with Skittles shitting unicorns, while the adults deal with idiots like that Mr. President guy interrupting her day.


  1. Spencer says:

    you fucking racist pig you never seemed to mind when Bush was going to schools all over the country reading my pet goat when thousands of people were dying. You’re such a fucking republican loser. We won mother fucker get over your fucking self.

  2. Awesome.

  3. amanda says:

    Yes, awesome.

  4. Candice says:

    Very articulate.

  5. Anonymous says:

    You take cheesy populism to new lows. The only thing good about this is that no one with a shred of moral conscience will ever take libertarians seriously again.

  6. Kimberlee says:

    you are so good at what you do! I love your political go boy!

  7. keith johnson says:

    “you fucking racist pig you never seemed to mind when Bush was going to schools all over the country reading my pet goat when thousands of people were dying. You’re such a fucking republican loser. We won mother fucker get over your fucking self.”

    Van Jones, is that you again?

  8. everett cox says:

    1) You’re half right; America is a Democratic Republic.

    2) Barack Obama is the President. That makes him the “national leader” whether you like it or not.

    3) Obama won the election by a 7,000,000 vote margin. That is a majority of the electorate that cast votes, so the Electoral College had no choice but to vote him into office. That’s how it has always been. Why are you objecting to it now?

    I’m not sure how many Presidents have addressed the Nation’s schoolchildren, but he addressed them during his run for office so why is it not ok for him to do so now?? The fact that he is now the President should give his words even more weight with the children. Why is that a bad thing??

    I believe you have been swayed by Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh, O’Reilly and the Birthers, Deathers and Town Hall Screamers. If you hold your child out of school because the President is speaking, how will you explain that to him or her when he or she is old enough to understand? That a fat drug-addicted radio rabblerouser influenced you to take him out?

    I will visit your blog after the President’s speech to read your reaction.

    Everett Cox
    Arlington Democrat

  9. DM says:

    Hmmm… it looks like you got a look at the opposing side before writing this….So, if you think it’s a good idea to pull your kids out of school because you don’t like your country’s leader (a citizen elected by your neighbors), don’t whine when your kid doesn’t listen to you or your principal. It won’t belong before they understand they don’t have to stick around and listen to you either….

  10. Steve says:

    I find it hilarious when folks who visit this blog for the first time ever feel free to pass overly-generic criticisms on Trey when they have obviously no understanding of his political views. As is always the case, liberals whine constantly about opposing sides sticking to certain “talking points” while they can’t spew theirs out fast enough.

    Crying racism and blaming Rush Limbaugh. Really? *yawn* Wake me up when you have an original thought.

  11. keith johnson says:

    Everett, why does your side always assume somone is doing our thinking for us? A
    Yes he is the national leader, and this “talk” in and of itself wouldn’t be as big a deal if everytime we turned around Obama wasn’t shoving his big government mantra down our throats.
    The czars, the social programs, the meddling in a local disorderly conduct arrest, the shadowy figures he aligns himself with and his outright contempt for Joe Sixpack is what has the 46% of Americans that didn’t vote for him on edge.
    This is the president that set up a snitch line, a president that’s out to destroy the CIA, a president who with his lemmings accuses anyone that dares disagree with him a racist., a president thats brought Chicago thug politics to the big screen.
    So yeah, considering the damage he”s already done, and the havoc he’s going to wreak in the future, I don’t want him preaching to my kid either.

  12. @Deborah Mitchell

    Hmmm… it looks like you got a look at the opposing side before writing this….

    Nice accusation, but no. I can see how you might think that, though, but the problem is your writing is so very predictable.

    However, if I’d known you needed help, I would have let you have a sneak peek at my draft.

    I’m not sure it would have helped, though, Deborah, since it’s clear from the balance of your comments that you didn’t understand a word even after reading it.


  13. Peterk says:

    trey are you trying to drive up your unique visitor’s numbers? of course those opposed to your viewpoint are ignorant of the truth. This news story about the speech points out this fact, which I suspect is being ignored by most who are in favor of the speech

    “Federal statute denies any authority to the Department of Education to provide any kind of curriculum or anything that can be passed down to the state, and that’s part of the statute forming the Department of Education. So they kinda got themselves into this mess because they didn’t really understand some of the key legal roles or the dos and don’ts at the federal Department of Ed,” she said”

  14. DM says:

    Yeah, maybe next time you can give me a hand….I have trouble understanding the issues….Or, rather, the issues some folks have. But, truly, if we were to all sit down for a chat–every person commenting on your blog–you and I both know there would be a more moderate, polite discussion. People are more willing to listen when they are face-to-face.

    I grant that you made some logical points in your column, but at least I was willing–and able–to read and to listen to you. We should grant the same opportunities to our kids. It helps grow open minds. Night.

  15. Deborah,

    So you come in my house, you accuse me of having an unfair advantage — lord knows what that means you’re accusing Sharon Grigsby of — and now you’re complaining about politeness and civility?

  16. DM says:

    ?? Don’t follow you here. What unfair advantage? I’m not complaining about politeness either. I’m saying that people are more moderate in person. How is that a bad thing?

  17. Destiny says:

    Could you please sign a copy of this for my son to take to school? Otherwise it won’t be an excused absence.

  18. Terry says:

    You are what wrong with our country today. An idiot who doesn’t have a clue. You just can’t handle the fact how our country has evolved. If people like you would leave children alone and let them develop their on mindset our country will be just fine. You have the nerve to even have an opinion. Now that the most powerful man in the modern world happens to be a black man, who is very intelligent and can articulate. He’s much better than the idiot we had before him. Have us going to war, because he was pissed off because Sadaam threaten to kill his daddy. So let see you justify that. You are just another brainwashed fool out there. Racism is still alive and well in america just undercover, but trust me it’s still there.

  19. Dallasite says:

    “The only thing good about this is that no one with a shred of moral conscience will ever take libertarians seriously again.”

    What’s to say they ever took them seriously to begin with?

  20. Dallasite says:

    “You have the nerve to even have an opinion. “

    Wow, just wow.

    Were you born this stupid?

  21. Chet says:

    Trey, NPR is quoting Professor Cal Jillson as saying that you, too, effectively are part of the Tea Party-Birther crowd, up on your hind legs.

    I wasn’t aware that the Tea Partiers were conjoined with the Birthers anymore than a PTA is with its local KKK chapter (or with the nearest veterinarian, for that matter) , but Cal Jillson should know because he’s quick and easy to put on camera or tape when you need a political opinion, and that’s a standard no rational pewrson can argue with.

    I only hope Professor Jillson, not otherwise distinguished as any sort of political scientist or philosopher, can one day rise to the rolodex-ready heights of the former champ Larry Sabato who used to be quoted in every media outlet from coast to coast when an opinion vaguely bordering on the political was needed–and fast. Larry, we miss you. Where have you gone?

  22. Amazed says:

    “And if he’s the leader, what does that make them?”

    By your logic do you then..

    ..not take them to church, because it might make the preacher appear holier than them?

    ..not show them police, because it would make them feel like criminals?

    ..not send them to school, because teachers might make them feel less educated?

    ..not take them to a doctor, because it might make them aware that they can get sick?

    This is a teaching moment! Yes, kids can learn even at a young age; that’s what schools and parents are for. Have a discussion with your kids about what they see and hear. Everyday. Not just on the day of the president’s talk. Everyday.

    And if he’s the parent… your case, they are exposed daily to your inability to think past a first grade level.

  23. Marco Padalino says:

    September 4, 2009
    Dear Mr. Garrison,
    I have read your article on why your first-grader “won’t have any part” of President Obama’s address to the nation’s schoolchildren. I am puzzled by your reasoning but I cannot reach any conclusion on its merits unless you would answer two questions:
    a) Are you also shielding your first-grader from the “ex-cathedra” influence (indoctrination may be the appropriate word in this case) of your minister/priest/rabbi? If not, why not?
    b) Why do you extend to the teachers the parent’s responsibility to “worry about the kids” but not to the President? Do you really trust them more than the President, even though you don’t really know what they may say in the unmonitored classroom whereas you can know beforehand what the President will say?
    I look forward to your answer and thank you if you do so.
    Marco Padalino

  24. Frank R says:

    I have to admit ambivalence as to whether or not I would want my grade school child, (mine are grown) participating in this “teachable” moment. By itself the address is probably innocuous. However, combined with the odious “lesson plan” which smacks more of the President’s self interest and seeming desire to encourage youngsters to be more compliant when listening to their elected officials, I find the whole thing a bit offensive. To me it feels like another Obama moment to remind us all of what he feels is our duty, and I don’t mean just civic duty. Combine this with his attempts to coop the arts through the NEA and we have a budding culture of personality.

  25. “You have the nerve to even have an opinion. “

    Well that pretty much says it all.

    On a related note I do get a kick of critics constantly throwing out the WWJD/School Prayer/*Insert Deity Here* argument, as if that is some ideological trump card to someone who considers Jehovah to be about as real as Manbearpig…

  26. TWylite says:

    My pet goat shits Skittles. Someone had to say it. My work here is done.

  27. Daniel says:

    Trey, your heebie-jeebiefication at the “study questions” was justified, but I’m aghast that you think Obama is “president of a federation of states.” I got a late start this morning and am just tucking into my coffee, so help me out here: Did a civil war erupt that I don’t know about? Jeez. (Sure you don’t want a mulligan on that one? Has the paper already gone to press?)

    As for people calling Trey a racist pig, etc., what evidence do you have of that? A lot of people do have fundamentally racist objections to Obama, but you only discredit that valid observation when you spew hysterical vulgarities like an unhinged buffoon. Trey’s a full-speed-ahead Libertarian no matter what damned fool conclusions that may sometimes lead him to, but that’s an entirely unrelated phenomenon to being a racist or hate-mongerer. Something about a plank in your own et cetera.

  28. John says:

    We homeschoolers don’t have these problems. But you parents who allow the Government to indoctrinate your children 8 hours a day for 180 days a year have no business complaining about Dear Leaders wanting to address your children. The State does so every day anyway in the Publik Skools, so why get so upset when Dear Leader wants to add to the din?

  29. Daniel says:

    P.S. If Obama had any sense, he would have had his wife deliver this address.

    P.P.S. So if Obama visited your daughter’s school in person — to read My Pet Goat*, say — would you pull her out for the day? (Not that he shouldn’t have more pressing concerns to which he might attend.)

    * I know you’re not a Bushie; it really is a perfect example.

  30. Daniel — it’s mainly the study materials and the nation-wide, uniform broadcast of the Wizard of Oz to every classroom that bothers me.

    A visit to a single school is one thing. Having any president on monitors across the nation to captive schoolchildren just feels way too Orwellian to me.

  31. Dave says:

    Daniel, i’m pretty sure Trey’s talking about federalism.

    As for other comments, liberals like to bring out the WWJD stuff in times like this because in their eyes, conservatives are nothing but “religious freaks” and they think dealing the Jesus card will guilt them into doing what they want. Once they have no more political use for that guy on the cross, they go back to mocking all the “nutjobs” in JesusLand as Michael Moore called it.

    And people have a choice whether or not to attend church, just like Trey is making a choice here not to send his kid to school that day. Unless this is a mandatory indoctrination, he and others have the right to make that choice.

  32. Daniel says:

    Right, Federalism, gotcha. My blood coffee level was low at the time.

    I have a kindergartner and don’t know or care if he will see Obama’s speech. I agree there’s something a little creepy about it — and something downright objectionable to the “study questions”; comes word the admin has caved to criticism and will be changing them — but I’m pretty much 100% certain it will be an innocuous pep talk. And the paranoia of the right has gone way, way overboard. Whereas a Trey or a Philip J may conscientiously object as a matter of principle, there are actually people out there who seem to think Obama is going to hippo-mo-tize their kids or something. Your kid should either be too young to give a flyin’ skittle or old enough to think critically. Full stop.

  33. KS says:

    If people really don’t want the government to be involved in education, they need to think real hard about whether they send their kids to public schools. IJS.

  34. S.E. says:

    So far, the only original comment I’ve read in the past few days of all this arguing is about the Skittles shitting unicorn. I have to give that one a gold star, and if that is promised in the speech, send one to my house. My kids aren’t old enough to go to school, but my 3 year old would love a unicorn.

    To all of you who have just come here from the DMN article, answer me this question – if Bush was still in office, and wanted to broadcast a speech to kids in school, would you allow your kids to sit through it, without you complaining? You seem to think we should blindly follow Obama, without question, while you managed to complain about Bush every time he went to the bathroom. (disclaimer – I didn’t vote for Bush in either election)

  35. manderson says:

    Hey Trey,
    First time poster, long time lurker. Thoughts on Pres. George HW Bush’s speech to schoolchildren in ’91 that was broadcase on CNN (the only cable game in town at the time):
    and Pres. Reagan’s speech in ’88 that was broadcast on C-SPAN and included a heaping side of low tax preachin:

    P.S. Overheated internets? Chile please!

  36. manderson says:
  37. Daniel says:

    I’m not saying I would conscientiously object as a matter of principle (that principle being near-fanatical anti-government leanings). But I can respect it.

    Most people are not libertarians, however, and I cannot respect people who will keep their kids home because they think this is an exercise in indoctrination; I’ll acknowledge that the original set of study questions was creepy. (Why should we listen to the president and senators? !!!!They should listen to us!!!)

    A certain subset of Americans simply refuses to acknowledge that Barack Obama is their president whether they like it or not. A certain subset of lefties did the same vis-a-vis George W. Bush, but they were never this virulent or widespread. The same idiots who said six years ago that if you disagree with the president, not only are you wrong, you’re as a traitorous cancer upon our country, are now teaching their children to disrespect the office of the President of the United States of America. In the process, they’re teaching their kids to be sore losers, and petty and vindictictive. Some family values.

  38. Tim says:

    Apparently, not all Republicans agree.

    Came across an article by Rudy Giuliani’s former speechwriter referring to your position as “wingnut”

    Knowing you as I do, I suspect that you’re just being a master..baiter with your stance.

  39. Bear says:

    I don’t know of any districts in West TN that are going to be participating in this. That loss of a partial day of teaching time is a bitch to make up and throws plan synchronization off big time. So they basically said “Hell no, it’s not worth the trouble to do this”

  40. Daniel says:

    Yeah, Bear, it woudn’t have anything to do with politics.

  41. These are all unprecedented opinions towards the President of the United States of America. To think that the President of the United States cannot urge kids to say in school has moved beyond to ridiculous into the sublime.

  42. Dallasite says:

    “A certain subset of lefties did the same vis-a-vis George W. Bush, but they were never this virulent or widespread.”

    You must have the shortest of memories.

    You are comparing people who burned Bush in effigy, compared him to Hitler, refused to call him President, and said blatantly that “descent is the highest form of patriotism” to people who don’t want their kids to sit through a broadcast that, considering everything else President Obama has done, will most likely be to push his political agenda of Socialism.

    Forgive me if I wouldn’t want my child to sit through half an hour of “now go tell you parents that you think they should support healthcare reform, and that if they don’t support cap & trade they are killing the planet.” Maybe he’ll just ask them to email the whitehouse if any of their playground friends say anything that might be politically incorrect.

    It would definitely be a complete break from every other speech he’s given if he doesn’t try to blame Conservatives for something wrong in the world. In a culture of slimy politicians, he has certainly mastered the art. A political speech to school children is not quite the same as reading The Pet Goat to a class of second graders.

    I hope that it’s truly just a message to stay in school, work hard, and succeed in life. That would be a great message that is badly needed, especially in inner city schools where the dropout rate pushes 60%. I really hope that he knows this is an opportunity to turn his politics of opposition off. Somehow I doubt it though.

  43. Dave says:

    And to say it’s just about “urging kids to stay in school” is a mischaracterization, If you want to know why, just look to the post directly below this one.

  44. Bear says:

    No, Daniel, it wouldn’t. Teachers as a rule do NOT like having their weekly lesson plans screwed with with trivia like this… It takes planning time that’s already at a premium to have to go back in and rearrange things so that all the groups they have to teach these units to stay in synch. The estimates from DOE recommend taking 2 hours out of the schedule to deal with this: On a Tuesday, that means that my wife will have two classes of first graders who don’t get that day’s lesson where three others will. Those two classes will therefore not be ready for their next class on Thursday when there’s a test planned. So those two classes have to take the test without having covered the material.

  45. Yeshua says:

    Your attempt at an even handed commentary failed with your “snarky”, parenthetical remark about Obama needing to go grow the deficit. It is well established that this administration inherited a massive debt load from the previous one that led this country into an unnecessary, costly, and immoral war (as if there is a moral one).

    Furthermore, it’ time we stop invoking our forefathers as if they could do no wrong. Many of them supported a much stronger central government. The one we have was a compromise. And it was structured in such a way that it only preserved right for the white male. Our forefathers were both racist and misogynists. It’s time we move on.

  46. Bear says:

    Yeshua, you should lay off the illicit substances… Granted, Bush a deficit, but the debt load Obama’s plans will leave is almost a full magnitude larger than anything Bush proposed at any time.

  47. Yeshua says:

    Bear- The debt load you speak of will not exist when people finally realize that this country cannot cut taxes and expect this society to function. My taxes could be raised 7% and that still would not touch the amount I pay in insurance premiums. My position as a teacher and as Christian minister comes from the moral social imperatives of the gospel- healing the sick and taking care of the poor being indisputable core of it. Yes, it will cost each of us who has money. But we can afford to do it. It’s simply the right thing to do.

  48. Darrell says:

    Brilliant column… brilliant. Made me laugh out loud. I also have a first-grader, and you’ve made me rethink the “opt in” form the school sent home yesterday!

  49. Darrell says:

    Yeshua, from your “racist and misogynist” forefathers message, I see that you’ve ALREADY been indocrinated into the public education/mass media group think that the liberals have spewed for the past 20 years. Sad.

    Talking down our forefathers is step No. 1: the first thing tyrants do is to rewrite the history books.

  50. Bear says:

    Yeshua, I’d seriously consider seeking either psychiatric help or a basic education in economics if I were you. Your thoughts on the matter are so devoid of reality that they’re laughable. Laying off the crack cocaine would probably help you, also.