Dangerous words.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help 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 that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.

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

But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. 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….

And so on. Some people should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted at 3:06 pm in Current events |

15 responses to “Dangerous words.”

  1. moe99 said on September 7, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    The right wing outrage reminds me of the time in the summer of ’78 I prosecuted a guy in E. Ky named Odell, for assaulting his mother. Odell sat in the courtroom the day of his misdemeanor trial and watched all the trials that went before his and when one guy got off for selling marijuana, he used that guy’s questions on his mom when his trial came up. If it worked for the first guy, it should work for him too, right?

    And like Odell, the right wing has appropriated wholesale the emotional tone of those who criticized George Bush for his trampling on our Constitution: from the lies used as a basis for the Iraq War to the spying on American citizens, to the firing of the US Attorneys (to name only a few). The right wing saw how legitimate outrage created a momentum to change and they think if they use the same tone, the same outrage, that will get them back in to power.

    However, the targets of their outrage are so far different than the depredations committed by Bush and his gang of thieves. What is scary is that this debasement of the debate is like crying “Wolf.” Next time it happens (say, if the Republicans return to power), folks may ignore the next wave of outrage as baseless and more serious harm will be done to our way of governing.

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  2. coozledad said on September 7, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    That’s just it. They’re shameless, amoral hacks. I think it’s becoming obvious we can begin to factor in a fairly strong element of bloodlust.
    The longer this kneejerk opposition goes on, the more compelling the argument becomes that these people are the intellectual heirs of the opponents of the Civil Rights movement, and they have much more in common with James Earl Ray than Edmund Burke.
    Freedom of speech, as a concept, isn’t intended as a protection for splattering such puke.

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  3. Connie said on September 7, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    There is no way any of today’s conservatives have any relationship to the philosophies of Edmund Burke. Do you think any of them have actually read him?

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  4. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 7, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    His piece on the French Revolution is oft quoted, but i love his essay “On the Sublime.” Aesthetics and politics were two sides of the same coin for him. Wish he’d actually said the “all that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in this world is for enough good men to do nothing” quote, but i still like it.

    Was there a particular work of Burke’s you had in mind?

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  5. Jolene said on September 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    They won’t have the good grace to be embarrassed. The new meme is that, of course, the speech is innocuous. He had time to change it after all the complaints. If we had seen what it would have been like but for the outrage, we’d see the depths to which Obama would sink to enact his socialist agenda.

    Actually, I was a little disappointed in the speech. The “stay in school” message seems a little heavy-handed for young kids and, more generally, the whole speech seems a little beyond the reach of the youngest kids–although I am not the best judge of what kids of various ages can understand. Mark Shields said on PBS last week that the unstated goal of this speech was to reach populations in which dropout rates are high, but I wonder if there isn’t a better way to do that.

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  6. nancy said on September 7, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Jolene, don’t underestimate what a rock star Obama is to many of the kids who need to hear this message — and he is a rock star. I had some ongoing contact with a group of mostly poor Detroit middle-schoolers last year, and they idolized him. This was an after-school program, and Obama was No. 1 in free-choice reading material, essay topics, “the American I most admire,” etc. If he says something, they listen. So it’s worth a shot.

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  7. Jolene said on September 7, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Good to hear, Nancy, and good for you for participating in that program. The pictures of the boy in the striped tie on this page (scroll down) certainly indicate that has found a source of strength and inspiration in Obama.

    If you haven’t ever checked out this blog, btw, it’s worth a couple of minutes to click through. Guaranteed to give you a smile.

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  8. Jolene said on September 7, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Below are links to a couple of articles that I’ve mentioned recently, but, because I was computerless, couldn’t connect to. I thought they were both really valuable, so hope you won’t mind the repetition.

    Alec MacGillis, WaPo: The Unwitting Birthplace of the “Death Panel” Myth. This is the piece re the hospital that petitioned its representatives to include reimbursement for physicians (or other healthcare professionals) to provide end-of-life care in health insurance reform legislation. We all know where that led. MacGillis also hosted a web chat on this topic, along w/ two staff members from the hospital.

    And here’s the article re the role of health insurance executives and lobbyists in shaping new legislation. Chad Terhune and Keith Epstein in Business Week: The Health Insurers Have Already Won

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  9. James said on September 7, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Apropos of nothing, but I ran across this today…

    Let’s see Norm Coleman do this.

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  10. John Wallace said on September 7, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    I’m going to quote former NJ Governor Christine Todd Whitman, and I agree with her sentiment that, “I didn’t leave my party; my party left me.” We’re not mutual pals, the first and only time we met her crisp response with a broad grin was, “I know W… t…. F… you are.”
    I do feel Bush the Younger and the creeps in charge pushed her to lie about air safety in NYC after 9-11. Actually the GOP could benefit from the lessons of another NJ Governor, Tom Kean who delivered on a big tent with many opinions and ideas but all GOP.
    That message is drowned out by talk radio addicts and a herd mentality. You have to wonder how the conservative people who CONSIDER themselves Christian can follow a Mormon (IMHO even less grounded in science and facts than creationists) along with a bloated opiate fixated pillhound.
    We need to get back to what binds us as Americans and neighbors, and not focus on our differences.

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  11. Dexter said on September 7, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Now I feel like I’ve been swung over to socialism by this awful socialist president…gee, couldn’t we have had a spoiler warning? I feel dirty now that I have read this. 😀

    And this, after I had gotten FIRED UP ! and was READY TO GO ! after watching the President tell his Greenwood, SC story in Cincinnati earlier. 🙂

    I hope the President gets the hot buttons cooled down, gets us single payer public option insurance, and then takes a few weeks to really investigate the war in Afghanistan. I do believe that he believes he’s doing right, but I don’t believe it’s worth the ever-increasing loss of life and dollars to keep fighting these wars.

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  12. Jolene said on September 7, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Loved the Al Franken map-drawing clip, James. He’s been doing this party trick for a long time. YouTube has a clip of him doing it on a Letterman show in 1987.

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  13. LA mary said on September 8, 2009 at 1:12 am

    Try plugging in appropriate parts of GWB’s biography where Obama references his own history. It’s a little less inspiring.

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  14. Dexter said on September 8, 2009 at 1:53 am

    David Shuster links this story from his Twitter page:

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  15. beb said on September 8, 2009 at 7:34 am

    Moe, I think right-wing outrage has been a staple of conservatives since, well, Goldwater. What’s different this time is that the media has signed on wholesale to this outrage. This whole school speech controversy can only be explained by the media picking up the complaints of one or two party hacks and trumpeting them to the nation, which then legitimacize the outrage across the country. The outrage blew up out of nowhere too fast to be any kind of national grassroots obsession. This had to be been manufactured from the top down, and by “top” I mean our media elites.

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