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Friday, September 04, 2009

Fighting Blitzkrieg With A Wet Noodle

by tristero


The Obama-is–gonna-turn-our-kids-commie story that both Digby and I have blogged about was front page above the fold in the NY Times this morning.. Here's the lede:
President Obama’s plan to deliver a speech to public school students on Tuesday has set off a revolt among conservative parents, who have accused the president of trying to indoctrinate their children with socialist ideas and are asking school officials to excuse the children from listening.
Here's grafs 4 and 5 (graf 4 begins on page one):
“The thing that concerned me most about it was it seemed like a direct channel from the president of the United States into the classroom, to my child,” said Brett Curtiss, an engineer from Pearland, Tex., who said he would keep his three children home.
In short, the entire front page exposure of the story in the NY Times was a repetition of totally screwy far-right paranoia. And it's inaccurate: nothing on the front page of the Times gives the reader the slightest clue that this paranoia was fomented by Republican party leaders in Florida and the usual GOP enablers in rightwing media.

Now, there are obvious, dignified, and appropriate ways to respond to this trash. For example:

"Highly-paid Republican operatives are behind the ludicrous accusation that the President of the United States intends to indoctrinate America's children in socialism when he talks to them on Tuesday about the importance of working hard in school. In their ridiculous efforts to bamboozle Americans, Republicans once again are perpetuating the dangerously divisive and unserious politics of the last Republican presidency, a presidency marked by a nearly perfect storm of disasters - from an unnecessary war in Iraq to a financial meltdown to the Republican administration's thoroughly incompetent response to Hurricane Katrina. "

How does the Obama administration actually respond? Here you it is, in Graf 7 - deep inside the paper, of course, where few will actually read it:
“This isn’t a policy speech,” said Sandra Abrevaya, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education. “It’s designed to encourage kids to stay in school. The choice on whether to show the speech to students is entirely in the hands of each school. This is absolutely voluntary.”

For the sake of argument only, let's agree that both Obama's personality and his political instincts to personally avoid this kind of cynical posturing are both admirable and politically astute. Let's also concede - even if we do so with tremendous reluctance and reservation - that when his administration also refuses to treat Republican dead-enders with the contempt they so obviously deserve, they are behaving the way the executive branch should behave if our discourse were healthy. Even granting all of that, which is granting one helluva lot:

Where the fuck are the Democrats?

Democrats should be all over this. Republicans have just lobbed the most perfect softball their way - telling kids to study in school is a message Republicans don't want schoolchildren to hear??? Democrats should let them have it with both barrels. And the counter-attack should come at exactly the same level - state leadership, if not higher.

If you're serious about 21st Century American politics, you don't let the insane charge that the President of the United States is trying to corrupt the Youth of America go unanswered when it's being made at the highest levels of the Republican party. Why?

Because if you refuse to fight back, it creates the distinct impression that there's some truth to it. These aren't merely deranged talkshow hosts accusing the President of fomenting subversion; these are leaders of a major political party. They cannot be ignored. So again:

Where the fuck are the Democrats?

[UPDATE: BarbinMD of Daily Kos finds out that Republicans practice the indoctrination of schoolchildren they preach against:
RESIDENT REAGAN: Well, thank you very much. Please, be seated. You know, this is a real treat for me, having you here, and to have in a little while the chance to answer some of your questions. Let me also offer a special hello to those of you who are watching on C-Span, or the Instructional Television Network. Thank you for inviting us into your home or your school today ...

And that is a vision that goes beyond economics and politics, it's also a moral vision, grounded in the reverence and faith of those who believe that with God's help, they could create a free and democratic nation ...

Because you see, the taxes can be such a penalty on people that there's no incentive for them to prosper and to earn more and so forth because they have to give so much to the government ...

There was talk about having a gun ban in California. It didn't go through. But I got a letter from a man in San Quentin Prison. And from the prison he wrote me the letter to tell me he was in there for burglary, he was a burglar. And he said, "I just want you to know that if that law goes through, here in San Quentin there will be celebrating throughout the day and night by all the burglars who are in prison."]