Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

A President in the Classroom


The much-disputed speech of President Obama is now a matter of record. I have posted what is found on the White House site.

Now what are your thoughts? I’m wondering what folks are hearing from those who were most concerned?


Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                                                        September 8, 2009


Wakefield High School
Arlington, Virginia

12:06 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,
everybody. All right, everybody go ahead and have a seat. How is
everybody doing today? (Applause.) How about Tim Spicer? (Applause.) I
am here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia.
And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, from
kindergarten through 12th grade. And I am just so glad that all could
join us today. And I want to thank Wakefield for being such an
outstanding host. Give yourselves a big round of applause. (Applause.)

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And
for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school,
it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a
little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are
feeling pretty good right now — (applause) — with just one more year
to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably
wishing it were still summer and you could’ve stayed in bed just a
little bit longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived overseas. I
lived in Indonesia for a few years. And my mother, she didn’t have the
money to send me where all the American kids went to school, but she
thought it was important for me to keep up with an American education.
So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through
Friday. But because she had to go to work, the only time she could do
it was at 4:30 in the morning.

Now, as you might imagine, I wasn’t too happy about getting up that
early. And a lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen
table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of
those looks and she’d say, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”

So I know that some of you are still adjusting to being back at
school. But I’m here today because I have something important to
discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your
education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.

Now, I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked about responsibility a lot.

I’ve talked about teachers’ responsibility for inspiring students and pushing you to learn.

I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you
stay on track, and you get your homework done, and don’t spend every
waking hour in front of the TV or with the Xbox.

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting
high standards, and supporting teachers and principals, and turning
around schools that aren’t working, where students aren’t getting the
opportunities that they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers,
the most supportive parents, the best schools in the world — and none
of it will make a difference, none of it will matter unless all of you
fulfill your responsibilities, unless you show up to those schools,
unless you pay attention to those teachers, unless you listen to your
parents and grandparents and other adults and put in the hard work it
takes to succeed. That’s what I want to focus on today: the
responsibility each of you has for your education.

I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. Every
single one of you has something that you’re good at. Every single one
of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to
yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education
can provide.

Maybe you could be a great writer — maybe even good enough to write
a book or articles in a newspaper — but you might not know it until
you write that English paper — that English class paper that’s
assigned to you. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor —
maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or the new
medicine or vaccine — but you might not know it until you do your
project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a senator
or a Supreme Court justice — but you might not know that until you
join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life, I guarantee that
you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a
teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a
lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good
education for every single one of those careers. You cannot drop out of
school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to train for it and
work for it and learn for it.

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future.
What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the
future of this country. The future of America depends on you. What
you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation
can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in
science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop
new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the
insights and critical-thinking skills you gain in history and social
studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination,
and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity
and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies
that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents and your
skills and your intellect so you can help us old folks solve our most
difficult problems. If you don’t do that — if you quit on school —
you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

Now, I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot
of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to
focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what it’s like. My father left my family when I was
two years old, and I was raised by a single mom who had to work and who
struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us
the things that other kids had. There were times when I missed having a
father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and I felt like I
didn’t fit in.

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been on school, and I
did some things I’m not proud of, and I got in more trouble than I
should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.

But I was — I was lucky. I got a lot of second chances, and I had
the opportunity to go to college and law school and follow my dreams.
My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, she has a similar story.
Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have a lot
of money. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could
go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have
adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe
someone in your family has lost their job and there’s not enough money
to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel
safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know
aren’t right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life — what
you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what
you’ve got going on at home — none of that is an excuse for neglecting
your homework or having a bad attitude in school. That’s no excuse for
talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of
school. There is no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end
up. No one’s written your destiny for you, because here in America, you
write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.

Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t
speak English when she first started school. Neither of her parents had
gone to college. But she worked hard, earned good grades, and got a
scholarship to Brown University — is now in graduate school, studying
public health, on her way to becoming Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s
fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s had to endure all sorts of
treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took
him much longer — hundreds of extra hours — to do his schoolwork. But
he never fell behind. He’s headed to college this fall.

And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago,
Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the
toughest neighborhoods in the city, she managed to get a job at a local
health care center, start a program to keep young people out of gangs,
and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to

And Jazmin, Andoni, and Shantell aren’t any different from any of
you. They face challenges in their lives just like you do. In some
cases they’ve got it a lot worse off than many of you. But they refused
to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their lives, for
their education, and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you
to do the same.

That’s why today I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals
for your education — and do everything you can to meet them. Your goal
can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention
in class, or spending some time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll
decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in
your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being
teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you
believe, like I do, that all young people deserve a safe environment to
study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so
you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, by the way, I
hope all of you are washing your hands a lot, and that you stay home
from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from
getting the flu this fall and winter.

But whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes you get that sense from TV that you can be
rich and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to
success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star.
Chances are you’re not going to be any of those things.

The truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject
that you study. You won’t click with every teacher that you have. Not
every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life
right at this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything
the first time you try.

That’s okay. Some of the most successful people in the world are the
ones who’ve had the most failures. J.K. Rowling’s — who wrote Harry
Potter — her first Harry Potter book was rejected 12 times before it
was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school
basketball team. He lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of
shots during his career. But he once said, “I have failed over and over
and over again in my life. And that’s why I succeed.”

These people succeeded because they understood that you can’t let
your failures define you — you have to let your failures teach you.
You have to let them show you what to do differently the next time. So
if you get into trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it
means you need to try harder to act right. If you get a bad grade, that
doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time

No one’s born being good at all things. You become good at things
through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play
a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song.
You’ve got to practice. The same principle applies to your schoolwork.
You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it
right. You might have to read something a few times before you
understand it. You definitely have to do a few drafts of a paper before
it’s good enough to hand in.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of
weakness, it’s a sign of strength because it shows you have the courage
to admit when you don’t know something, and that then allows you to
learn something new. So find an adult that you trust — a parent, a
grandparent or teacher, a coach or a counselor — and ask them to help
you stay on track to meet your goals.

And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and
you feel like other people have given up on you, don’t ever give up on
yourself, because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got
tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved
their country too much to do anything less than their best.

It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and
went on to wage a revolution and they founded this nation. Young
people. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a
Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a
man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who
founded Google and Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we
communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask all of you, what’s your contribution going
to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you
make? What will a President who comes here in 20 or 50 or 100 years say
about what all of you did for this country?

Now, your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can
to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions.
I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books and
the equipment and the computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do
your part, too. So I expect all of you to get serious this year. I
expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect
great things from each of you. So don’t let us down. Don’t let your
family down or your country down. Most of all, don’t let yourself down.
Make us all proud.

Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. Thank you. (Applause.)

12:22 P.M. EDT

Comments read comments(43)
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posted September 8, 2009 at 7:50 pm

I don’t know who was concerned the most: the parents who are concerned about their kids hearing a speech by the President, or the parents who are concerned about schools and parents who are concerned about hearing a speech by the President.
Count me in the latter camp. Read that speech.
If a Republican had given that exact same talk, conservatives would have loved it. Any school that dared not show it would have been in big trouble.
I worry about this country when there are so many people with such blazing hate for the President, to the point of making threats to his life or praying for his death. How is that Christian?

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Walter Winklestaff

posted September 8, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Assuming that the rump of the Republican Party is composed of substantial number of Christians, you’ve got to wonder what kind of fear-based religion they believe in. I think these folks have lost their collective minds. I’m sure some of them are the same people who kept barking about respect for the office and all that til the black Muslim socialist marxist indoctrinator got himself illegally elected by people who don’t think like they do. I am embarassed for the hundreds of kids at my son’s school who were forbidden by their parents to hear this speech. It’s just beyond my comprehension to understand. But then again Glenn Beck is beyond my comprehension to understand.

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posted September 8, 2009 at 8:13 pm

I thought it was a great speech and it was just what I thought it would be: motivating and encouraging for students – students who attend government run schools and who were being addressed by the leader of that government — I don’t understand what was so wrong about that. Not to mention that it was a great speech!
I agree with those above that I think a lot of this hoopla is chalked up to fear. I am not sure what everyone is afraid of but I know that, for me, I hope to teach my children how to live in the midst of all the things that can make us afraid rather than to shelter them from it all. I want them to be people who make good decisions on their own rather than sheltering them from every decision-making opportunity.
If there was truly something to fear about this speech, I don’t think that sheltering our kids was the answer. I think that those that WERE sheltered from it missed a great speech!

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posted September 8, 2009 at 8:15 pm

I want to say amen to this previous comment:
“I worry about this country when there are so many people with such blazing hate for the President, to the point of making threats to his life or praying for his death. How is that Christian?”
Also, as a teacher in an all-black school, I’m proud of Obama for putting this message and accompanying curriculum out there. Great role model. Great speech. Thanks, Mr. First Black President.
The Republicans and pseudo-Christians are alienating me.

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Albert the Abstainer

posted September 8, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Let’s see: Work hard, struggle bravely, and take responsibility for your own life, mixed with a little patriotism, and a few personal anecdotes. I guess that is terribly threatening to some people, and indicates the end is indeed near.

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posted September 8, 2009 at 9:24 pm

You wrote . . .
“I worry about this country when there are so many people with such blazing hate for the President, to the point of making threats to his life or praying for his death. How is that Christian?”
Just to clarify . . . did you feel the same way when President Bush was the target of the same stuff?
It seems to me the overlooked dynamic in the just past presidential election was the inflamed hatred toward President Bush.
I will always wonder how the hatred influenced the election. And I will always wonder why Christians did not recognize the hatred and address its influence on decision making.
Even with this slight tweak on my part, you are correct to be concerned. Differently focused hatred is still dangerous.

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Kevin Chez

posted September 8, 2009 at 9:53 pm

It makes sense for the president to encourage students. I think the big problem people had was with the follow-up material given to the schools by the White House, particularly the student writing a letter to themselves about how they can help the president (that would be redistributed at a later date to make the students accountable to their goals).
Also, I think that people are getting a glimpse at the president’s agenda, his views, and his political associations that either were not clear or ignored during the campaign. Some believe these to be radical and outside of the mainstream. Polling data seems to agree though not by a wide margin.
Finally, I think people are afraid of socialism and the president is under that cloud. Fox News is only one network so i do not think you can blame it on them. When you start putting “spread the wealth around”, government run health care, cult like following, and a media that seems bias it can be disconcerting for many people. All these things raise my eyebrows, not the speech made by the president.

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posted September 8, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Great speech.
Looking from Australia, this is yet another US controversy that I struggle to make sense of. Why was this an issue at all?
Our political leaders of both persuasions quite commonly visit schools and make various speeches and no-one raises an eyebrow. None of their speeches are as good as Obama’s though. Nice work.

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tim e

posted September 8, 2009 at 10:22 pm

being a canadian, we dont get a president. can he be ours too!!

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posted September 8, 2009 at 10:26 pm

I heard no Christian decrying this speech so lets move away from trying to portray the loud protests as coming from conservative Christians. In fact, both John Piper and Albert Mohler said nothing but good things about it and Piper went so far as to call it “amazing.”
This analysis that this is about “fear” is also passe. The word fear has been far expanded past it bounds. People are not quivering at home scared, rather they just passionately disagree (sometimes irrationally).
But the problem of people being ideologues haunts all political positions. As silly as I thought it was for conservatives to be upset by Obama wanting to be a good role model to students, you can gurantee that same silly outrage would have been there by liberals if it was President Bush giving the speech a few years ago.
Its just political tribalism, where the other side is always bad and you are always good. Not really that complex.

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Cameron Horsburgh

posted September 8, 2009 at 10:45 pm

I’ve heard a lot about what the conservatives thought, I’ve heard a lot about what the less-conservatives thought, and now I’ve heard the speech itself. Can anyone tell me what the kids thought?

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posted September 8, 2009 at 10:58 pm

Honestly, from dealing face-to-face and in much closer quarters than on the internet with people who were worried about this speech, I’d have to say that we’ve been verging on a sort of mass hysteria about Obama in general that for the moment coalesced around this speech. It’s completely normal for people to disagree, even passionately, with the president’s politics and policies. However, I am regularly running into people who insist that they know what Obama “really” wants to do. So if you point out a fact or ask for an example of actions or even stated intentions about something they think Obama wants to do (take away all the guns, for example), it doesn’t matter that there’s no evidence to support their ideas. Rather than finding the lack of evidence for their certainty about what he “really” wants to do reassuring, many people just become more frightened because they KNOW the truth and he’s doing such a good job of hiding the truth that we won’t realize the danger we’re all in until it’s too late. How does one even begin to talk rationally with someone who is engaged in such circular logic?
The thing I keep trying to point out is that even if all that they fear is really true, we still have a constitution, a judicial branch and elections in 2010 and 2012 where the people can vote the dems and then Obama out of office. Even if Obama really were intent on destroying capitalism, raising taxes sky high, taking away our guns, indoctrinating our children, etc, he’s have to get the cooperation of 2 other branches of government and can still be booted from office. I swear some of these people have visions of Obama doing something like Hugo Chavez in Venezuala and rigging things so he can stay in power forever or like Putin in Russia and pass power onto a figure head while continuing to reign. Again, how does on even begin to engage someone who believes these sorts of things?
Also, one of the reasons I don’t find the “the left hated Bush, so why is everyone picking on the right?” argument convincing or reassuring is that what set each side off is so disproportionate. The left was grumbling over an election that could have been just as legitimate going to their guy. But they went really crazy over a WAR where people DIED. we’ve had people on the right showing up on TV crying and Obama being compared to Hilter and Kim Jong Il because he wanted to tell kids to study hard and stay in school! I didn’t agree with the Bushitler types, but at least they were getting worked up over really, really serious issues. The right seems ready to go crazy if Obama wipes his nose with his sleeve rather than using a tissue.
I’m about ready to put my conservative button in the closet. It’s gotten embarrassing out there!

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Ben Wheaton

posted September 8, 2009 at 11:03 pm

tim e,
What’s this? High treason against her Majesty?

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posted September 8, 2009 at 11:12 pm

tim e, you can have our president if I can have your health care system. (Just had another run in with the local doctor’s office over our insurance. Waiting to get a hip replacement seems like a really reasonable trade off for not dealing with these people at the moment!)

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posted September 8, 2009 at 11:24 pm

traditions have to start somewhere, why not make this one. I’m a Canadian and removed from the emotion of this discussion but I think giving a yearly speech to student would be a valuable addition to any leaders schedule, regardless of party affiliation

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Scott W

posted September 8, 2009 at 11:58 pm

Comparing the treatment of President Bush with President Obama I don’t think there is any sense of equivalence. I,for one,thought Bush was an incompetant,ideologically driven leader who led this nation into a needless war and who ran the economy into the ground,and didn’t respect the Constitution. But this wasn’t personal; it was primarily policy-driven opposition. Now,the rhetoric against Obama is so over-the-top that it defies reality. It’s case of a massive case of fear and projection,of “othering.” I do think race and ideology fuels this isanity.

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posted September 9, 2009 at 12:36 am

First, google “bushitler” and see how fair the left has been in the past. Look up the posters of Bush having his throat slit, being hung in effigy, and assassinated.
Second, go read really carefully Frank Schaeffer at the Huffington Post who tramples on his father’s grave regularly and insists folks on the right are likely to attempt an assassination of Obama and blames it on Fox News. That’s rational, right? Read the many politico-religious activist offerings at Explain to me how it is wrong for the right to “politicize the faith” but not for the left. Explain why it is wrong for the right to think a Christian view of human nature implies limited government but OK to think a Christian view of social justice implies the government should provide healthcare everyone with no coherent explanation of how it will be paid for.
Third, look up George H.W. Bush’s speech to school kids in 1991 which was greeted with shrill criticism from the left and actually led to an investigation by the GAO. Explain to me how parents, concerned about Obama’s six years with Bill Ayers “educational” initiative (the “Chicago Annenberg Challenge”) which funneled millions to activist groups like ACORN and enlisted schools in activism for “social change” are wrong for simply not wanting to have their kids listen to a speech by the most left leaning president in history, but inciting a government investigation of a sitting president over a speech to school kids is OK.
Fourth, look, which sounds innocent enough, but includes urgings to “change the system” (community organization for a particular cause, anyone?) and a “write your governor” campaign to get students to lobby for more education funding. Leaving aside the rightness or wrongness of the causes, this is encouraging student activism for a political agenda. Conflict of interest perhaps? Paying dues to the Unions maybe? Using the office of the president to recruit activists perhaps? Junior community organizers?
The speech was not the point. Enlisting kids to “serve the president” was. There’s a history here, a context. Check out the youtube video of celebrities “pledging allegiance to Obama”. The causes are largely innocent sounding, save for the politicking for green causes and thinly veiled support for universal healthcare. But in the context of activism and recruitment of the young, it is a bit troubling. “Serve the president and not the country?”
I guess it’s politics as usual, or maybe not. Maybe this is different. Maybe Obama is as far to the left as some of us fear. Maybe.
I’ve just had about enough of Christians denouncing Christians for holding conservative views (scary ideas like limited government, personal responsibility, and defense against real terrorism) and giving a pass to Christians on the left, some of whom have a view of “social justice” built on envy, class warfare, hatred of capitalism and routine playing of the race card on anyone who disagrees with a policy point. Yep, I’be been called a racist by Christian bloggers on the left based on a single policy disagreement with Mr. Obama. So, yeah, I’m a bit testy at all the talk of turning in the conservative buttons because us folks on the right are supposedly so irrational and mean. You really need to see the other side of the coin.
Bottom line: There is no text without a context. The speech was not the issue. The context of left leaning activism was. The speech is over. The context will continue.

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Brad Boydston

posted September 9, 2009 at 1:12 am

The speech was well done. I could see asking students to analyze it — content, intention, presentation. Write a news story reporting on the details of the speech and reactions of students from different grades. Ask students to outline it and rate it for persuasiveness. Students could be asked to try and improve on it. They could be asked to imagine that they were someone in a different setting and to share their impressions from that perspective. Students could be asked to research speeches given by other presidents to student audiences and to compare. There was so much in there that could have been harnessed to help reach course objectives and outcomes. It was a great educational opportunity — and from an educational perspective I can’t see how anyone could spin it as an interruption of the educational process!

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posted September 9, 2009 at 4:41 am

I think you missed the point in a couple of places. It’s already been stated that the disdain for Bush lied in two things. 1) He didn’t win the popular vote. In fact, he lost it. 2) He took us to war at a time when the country was emotionally unstable – and we came to realize that most of the country didn’t support it once kids started dying.
Obama is not hated for any of these reasons. He is hated out of fear that he might be “as far left as many of us fear.” That’s different. I’m not saying the WAY people on the left acted was ok – I’m saying that the reasoning isn’t even comparable. I’m not saying I am for or against Bush – I’m simply saying that there was SOMETHING more legitimate and concrete about the disdain for Bush.
Likewise – I’d still like to know what’s “agenda-driven” about “green” things? What Green “agenda” is there? I would argue that “green” is common sense and those against it have the “agenda.” I’m really tired of Christians being against green initiatives. Period. This isn’t a political statement on my part. I could care less if anyone is right or left. I’m in the middle. However – green has nothing to do with agenda and I’m really sick of Christians acting like it does – and that Christians should be against it.
It’s pure insanity. I’m sorry. Nothing pisses me off like Christians denouncing “green” projects. Ok, I lie – other things do. But this just makes no sense to me at all.

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Scot McKnight

posted September 9, 2009 at 7:39 am

Wow, I got up to some shrill comments here and there, so I have to do some editing and cutting of comments. One I cut I read again and re-approved it…
but let’s be respectful.
I respect the right side’s rights to disagree vehemently with all things Obama; and I respect the same for the left, but I ask both to say things in charitable and civil ways.

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posted September 9, 2009 at 8:08 am

Scott. Add to “let’s be civil” the rule “let’s be fair”. That’s my point. The left, including the Christian left, has a very selective sense of indignation. Whatever the right is accused of, such as getting too worked up about a speech to children, the left has practiced.
For the record, opposing “cap and trade” or “cash for clunkers” as part of the “green agenda” is not about disagreeing with protecting the environment, it is a question of how and at what cost. Opposing Obama’s health care plan is not about not wanting to reform health care, it is about potentially turning the healthcare system into an inefficient and bloated government run HMO. And yes, folks on the right can document denial of services and rationing in other countries that have such systems. It is not fear-mongering if there is evidence.
Finally, while I think Bush was mistreated by the left and the press, he was the one who started us down the “bailout” path that the current Administration has turned into a money drain that cannot be sustained. That was the biggest failing of his presidency.
But please, folks. Look at the hypocrisy of criticizing the right for what the left does routinely. Look at the outcry over a term like “moral majority” when there is no outcry over a title like “God’s Politics”. Look at the hypocrisy of denouncing the right for voluntarily opting out of Obama’s speech while ignoring the fact that the left launched and investigation over a similar speech by Bush I.

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David Bradley

posted September 9, 2009 at 9:49 am

I watched the President’s address with my students yesterday (the ONLY teacher in my school to do so!!)…and I have to say that for all of the ineptness of George W. Bush, we need to cut Barak Obama some slack. He is not the evil man being portrayed here; He is within his first year trying to deal with the absolute mess that the Congress, both right and left along with Bush created by its failure to lead and to be decisive against special interests. I think we need to continue to pray for the President and not judge him simply because he has a bigger vision than many of us in this country have where the world might at last work its way toward peace (one the scripture says will not come until Jesus brings it to us). So let’s work with the president to better the world and our own nation by being constructive wherever we can….there are enough naysayers on every corner….let’s be sure the seed we sow is godly.

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posted September 9, 2009 at 10:06 am

Dan (#21) — I hear what you’re saying, and I heard it on Hannity driving home yesterday, and I heard it from some friends at church, but honestly… it strikes me as overblown to the point of being ridiculous.
The heart of the criticism is that “the government” is trying to interfere with how parents raise their kids. I mean, really — it’s a short jump from the President telling kids “don’t do drugs and stay in school!” from the United Nations helicopters, with the lead chopper piloted by Nigerian-born Barack Hussein Obama himself, descending on all the world capitals, right?
I respect and would suffer persecution for the right of Christians to free association and free speech. But at the same time, I think we need to prophetically call out the deception that is at work in many of our Christian contexts today. Friends, Hannity and Limbaugh and Fox News are manipulating you for profit! And yes — NPR and CNN manipulate the Christian Left for profit as well!
We need to stop selling our birthright, the hope and joy we should have in participating in the mission of God, to people who just want to drum up controversy for headlines.

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posted September 9, 2009 at 10:40 am

I never had any doubts the speech would be innocuous — especially after the outcry. (In fact, I suspect we’ll find out, in time, that the speech was rewritten, like the supplemental materials, after the outcry.)
The creepiness comes from the cult of Obama — from the materials asking students how they will help Obama achieve his goals, from the image of the president telling them how much he cares about them (he’s always campaigning, after all).
I can see the potential good from the nation’s first black president telling young black boys it’s ok to be smart, to study, to try to be more. I just think it could have been done without the controversy if he’d had Colin Powel or the Sec of Ed do it.

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posted September 9, 2009 at 11:14 am
Reading some of the early nasty comments attacking concerned parents, it appears that the people writing them did not know what the controversy was even about. Last week the only thing available was the lesson plan proposed by Obama’s Dept of Education. It included suggested questions like “How can I help Obama . . .” and “How did the President inspire me . . . ” They were not focused on education but on the President. It sounded like promoting a cult of personality. The Dept of Education realized its error and changed the lesson plans.
Then the news came out that a school in Utah showed the Demi Moore “I plege” political video to the whole school (“I pledge to be a servant to our President”). Grossly inappropriate.
I encourage people to read some of the stories about public school teachers promoting Obama during school hours last year during the election. These stories are rarely covered by the NY Times and NBC, but they are covered by other media and blogs.
The teachers union leans heavily to the left. Parents are rightfully concerned with the worldview promoted in public schools. This is the context folks. Have a little empathy for the parents dealing with it, especially the ones who can’t afford to send their kids to a school that shares their worldview.

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posted September 9, 2009 at 11:27 am

I saw nothing wrong with the materials asking the kids to write letters as to how they would help the president. I think people automatically associated that with the healthcare issue, but I didn’t. I guess because I’m not up in arms over healthcare and I don’t assume that President Obama is subversively trying to make us into socialists. I saw it as an innocent question asked of schoolchildren as to how they could help the leader of our country succeed. Had it been allowed, we might have seen the kids write things like “watch the news”, “become informed”, “write to congressmen”, “vote”, etc. It really could have been a civics lesson on how the government works and how we the people can be a part of the process. But alas, we’ll never know…

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posted September 9, 2009 at 11:47 am

Pat #26,
Good for you that you did not mind the questions. But do you understand why people wanted questions about education and not the President personally? Even the White House realized the problem and changed the lesson plan. Despite that admission, the people who objected are still getting ridiculed here. Go figure.

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posted September 9, 2009 at 12:35 pm

pds (#27) — concerned questions — great, I’m all for it. What I heard and saw were not reasonable, articulate, calm, concerned questions. They were, frankly, paranoid rants. We have become a culture of ranters. Maybe the translators of the new NIV can massage “Love does not rant…” out of the Greek in 1 Cor. 13.
(BTW I am NOT suggesting pds is ranting at all here! I’m talking about what I heard on the radio and TV).

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Your Name

posted September 9, 2009 at 12:40 pm

PDS, good summary of the primary objections at hand. So sad that it came in comment 25 of the discussion. “Fear” can be well represented by demonizing someone you disagree with and have clearly failed to understand. I think we see that in dozens of posts here.
Pat, I wonder if you “saw nothing wrong” with the materials as they actually went out to the students, or with the materials that PDS is talking about, which were altered without comment by the Secretary of Education’s office.
That’s the act which cast colors of mistrust over this whole boon doggle.
The speech itself? Good message. Bit long winded. All the kids reactions I’ve read or heard have been simple, either “boring” or “funny”.

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Joe James

posted September 9, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Dan –
I think the subtitle to God’s Politics is something like: God Is Not a Republican, or a Democrat. Where the moral majority openly endorses one party in the name of Jesus.
And isn’t as one-sided as you suggest. In fact a recent issue had it’s feature article on Abortion and how people on both sides of the political issue are getting together and really doing some great things to fight needless abortions.
To everyone else, I think the issue for Christians has got to be a matter of allegiance. I have to be willing to grow as a disciple of Christ. And this willingness requires me to be honest of myself and examine my life. Is my first allegiance to America or Jesus Christ and His Reign? Is my primary allegiance to a particular set of American political ideals, or to the sacrificial love of the cross? In my political discourse, am I showing deep love for my political foes? Do I listen before I speak? Do I refrain from judging others as commanded of me in Jesus’ sermon on the mount? Do I make sure that I speak truthfully (which goes way beyond whether we are stating facts!)? All of these, I think, are important political questions for Christians to ask of themselves.

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Mark Baker-Wright

posted September 9, 2009 at 2:08 pm

ChrisB in #24,
“I never had any doubts the speech would be innocuous — especially after the outcry. (In fact, I suspect we’ll find out, in time, that the speech was rewritten, like the supplemental materials, after the outcry.)”
Errr, no. I don’t think we will. Indeed, we’ve already found quite the opposite:
Yes, a few changes were made, but they’re not really of great substance. More like “let’s fix some poorly chosen words so that we communicate our original intentions more clearly.”

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posted September 9, 2009 at 2:32 pm
dop #28
There are ranters on the left and the right. I am sure you will agree that we should deplore uncivil discourse from both sides.
I was addressing the first five comments on this thread and especially #2. (And Scot said he deleted some that were worse.) Walter (#2) did not address the issue of primary concern to the parents. He ridiculed them without understanding them.
“What you saw” was not the whole news story. This would not have been news if many parents had not called schools to express concern. I would think that many or most did not “rant.”
And I repeat: The Obaman admin. changed its suggested lesson plan in response, and we will never know how much they changed the content of the speech in response. The system worked. But it only worked because concerned parents spoke up in numbers. And now Walter (#2) is ridiculing them.

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posted September 9, 2009 at 2:53 pm

A great speech from a president continuing the long tradition of presidents addressing school children. I fail to remember any such outcry when Bush addressed school children? He’s the president. He deserves our respect. Our public schools are government-run. He has the right, nay, the responsibility, to deliver a speech of this type directly to kids. Disagree with his politics, but it is wrong to demonize him the way some of these parents are doing.

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posted September 9, 2009 at 2:58 pm

@ Cameron #11
My high school students thought it was GREAT. They really seemed to take it to heart.

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posted September 9, 2009 at 3:02 pm

PDS (#32): Indeed, there are reports that the address was modified after the pre-speech furor began. The “outcry” was just another reminder to BHO of the toxic situation he is in. Any sensible, well-meaning individual in the same predicament could be expected do the same — “Let’s see, I should look at this thing one more time to try to make sure than nothing I say can be mis-construed …” (Good luck, BHO)
Indeed, as you point out, we will never know what was changed in the speech, and consequently how subversive this could have been.
Unless, unless … someone could get the audio and play it backwards to get what he really was saying to the students. :)

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posted September 9, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Mark (#31)
Errr, that link does not prove what you say it does. They actually admit to changing the speech but only claim the changes were not “substantive.” What does that mean? How about releasing the draft from last week so we can all decide how significant the changes were?

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Brian in NZ

posted September 9, 2009 at 3:44 pm

I was stunned by so the comments of many of my US friends on FaceBook PRIOR to the speech. There was such a negative view of Obama’s motives. I just hope that those same people will have the integrity to revise their opinions now that the speech has been aired.
I’m glad to read positive comments (in this thread) from Christians who did support the speech.

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posted September 9, 2009 at 4:10 pm

I think it’s a bit early to tell. That link is hardly convincing.

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posted September 9, 2009 at 4:45 pm

#33 Robyn said:
“I fail to remember any such outcry when Bush addressed school children?”
But it happened, at a very OFFICIAL level:

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posted September 9, 2009 at 4:48 pm

#37 Brian in NZ,
Were you unaware of the work material posted on the Dept of Ed website that was to be distributed to children which prompted the greatest part of the outcry?

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posted September 9, 2009 at 10:42 pm

As one who supports a parent’s decision to keep their child home if they wish, I feel that this statement is 100% false, because it misses the whole point of what’s going on:
“And I repeat: The Obaman admin. changed its suggested lesson plan in response, and we will never know how much they changed the content of the speech in response. The system worked. But it only worked because concerned parents spoke up in numbers.”
The system worked? You mean the system where the people call change from their leaders and the leaders respond and….. so do the people? But that didn’t happen here. The people reacted out of fear. Some were reasoned and rational. I respect them and their concerns.
Many were unrational, unreasonable, and fear-driven. They were quite hysterical. The President responded to the people: Thank you people, thank you Mr. President. I am genuinely happy for this, as I view the changes as appropriate and positive.
However, the people didn’t respond to the change. They still insist that the President is “up to something” or is acting subtly to lead us all astray as to what his “true intentions” are. As much as I am FOR parents keeping their kids home, there is an adequate response when the leader of the country responds positively to the people. That is a “thank you.” That is some level of gratitude and trust-building. I’m not asking for much, I’m asking for people to stop claiming some higher-level discernment where they know that Obama is up to something that he clearly has not obviously been up to.
Another commenter said it well: Obama can’t turn this country socialist if the people don’t want it. If he does so, and the people don’t want it – they can stall his efforts in 2010 and crush them in 2012.
I have no problem with level-headed concern. I have no problem with disagreement with policy (I happen to disagree with the president on quite a few). I have a problem with the way people acted. Plain and simple.
Also, it’s not adequate to call out how the left acted towards Bush. If it was wrong, ok. But that’s not what’s happening RIGHT NOW. So it’s not as though those of us getting really upset at the way the right are acting are somehow blind to, ignoring, or endorsing how those on the left acted… It’s that we’re concerned with what is going on currently. To change the subject to how some on the left acted is to try and change the focus from what’s going on right now.

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posted September 10, 2009 at 9:46 am

BenB, I think what’s good for the goose is good for the gander is good for the goose.
It does cut both ways, right? So to say that suddenly the RIGHT is irrational and the LEFT never did such a thing, as many commenters here have done, is absurd and needs addressing.
That said, I certainly wouldn’t conceed that the system “works” and that “people were hysterical”. What people? You’ve already clearly indicated that you are just now being informed, AFTER claiming that people over-reacted, just what they were reacting to to begin with. Wouldn’t that make you reactionary and ill-informed? Wouldn’t it be better to listen to and address actual concerns?
Go here and click through every link in the article:
Your attempt to paint this as a hysterical reaction to one small and corrected picadillo is silly, and completely ignores the complaintS at hand.

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posted September 10, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Rick (#6): “I will always wonder how the hatred influenced the election. And I will always wonder why Christians did not recognize the hatred and address its influence on decision making.”
I think the same case could have been made about the 2000 election of George Bush, and the hatred of Bill Clinton.

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