Flashback: No You Can’t, Barack

Today Obama will be addressing a captive audience of school children.

Last year I wrote a column for the Dallas Morning News on why I won’t let my daughter be one of the captives.

Here it is.

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. It wouldn’t matter to me who the president is. This could be Bush, Clinton, Reagan or zombie Milton Friedman – it wouldn’t matter. I don’t want a president of any stripe presenting himself as the All Powerful Oz until my kid has the wherewithal to look behind the curtain.

The study materials dictated by the White House to accompany the address make the hairs on my neck stand up:

Why is it important that we listen to the president and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress and the governor? Why is what they say important?

What specific job is he asking me to do? Is he asking anything of anyone else? Teachers? Principals? Parents? The American people?

They’re not even trying to hide it: What elected officials say is important, and they are different – more important – than you. We should do what they ask. It’s our role. Listen. Serve. Obey.

This is anathema to everything good in the American spirit. Government is supposed to serve us, not the other way around.

(And why should kids be taught to value the words and wants of officeholders who’ve tanked the economy and taken out a mortgage on their grandkids’ future for nondefensive wars and failed bailouts? But I digress with these criticisms in a way I bet few teachers will.)

Look, watching a president’s speech in a middle or high school civics class? No problem. In a few years, I want my kid to be confronted by challenging ideas, informed debate and opposing values. That’s how a kid learns, evolves and strengthens her own ideas and beliefs.

That’s not what this is.

These are grade school kids. You know, the ones who giggle over the word booger and do their financial planning based on the tooth fairy’s visits. Critical thinking and nuance? Not their strong suits yet.

What this is, though, is imprinting on them the idea that one person is their leader.

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

This didn’t start with Obama and – shocker – it’s not about him.

In his book The Cult of the Presidency, Gene Healy examines the decades’ long drift away from the vision the Founding Fathers had for the limited role of the president, and at the disturbing trend of both liberals and conservatives to think of the office as a limitless “combination of guardian angel, shaman and supreme warlord.”

This Tuesday’s address will only make it worse.

Execute the federal laws, Mr. President.

You do your job (don’t you have a deficit to grow or something?), and we parents and teachers will worry about the kids.



  1. Anonymous says:

    I won’t let my kids listen to Alan Greenspan or Ayn Rand.

  2. keith johnson says:
  3. Bob says:

    Trey = political nihilist

  4. jasondfw says:

    Ehhh….yeah, i don’t like way Prof. Obama uses the media and schoolkids to stage an event. But that’s the way it works these days; it’s not worse than Mission Accomplished–in fact, it’s better, if we’re talking about less dead bodies. & You are a political anarchist, not a nihilist–wake up, “Bob”

  5. jasondfw says:

    And he’s not a sellout like hinojosa

  6. Anonymous says:

    “The one thing I have to say to the public is that about 60 percent of our budget is entitlements, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And a lot of the discretion I have is somewhat limited on these programs.”

    By all means, protect your children from Obama’s Islamist propaganda. Let them read Ayn Rand so they’ll be ready when the wheels fall off in 2012.

  7. jasondfw says:

    To “Anonymous” When the wheels fall off in 2012 and the aliens invade, NPR will have to discontinue broadcast–so where else will you get your info?

  8. Anonymous says:

    “…so where else will you get your info?”

    It’s all public domain, Jason. No reason to get exited about aliens, – the aliens are already here and mowing your yard. The wheels are coming off regardless of what Reason magazine or free market economists might say on the subject.