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Editorial: Silly season should be over by Labor Day

Published 9:48am Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday, Sept. 14, 2009

President Obama is muzzled for a conservative motivational speech telling the nation’s schoolchildren he “expects great things from each of you” while Rep. Joe Wilson is a newly-minted folk hero for blurting out, “You lie!” during Obama’s health care address to a joint session of Congress Sept. 9.

What’s wrong with this picture? We’re even making a liar out of poet Maya Angelou, who said the morning after Obama’s election as our 44th president that “America has finally grown up.”

Not so long as we have childish politicians whose tantrums are broadcast live into our living rooms during prime time.

We know our elected officials are conflicted between voting in the best interests of the constituents who elected them and the powerful corporations and lobbying groups whose bidding they do to stay. Many fickle constituents don’t let facts get in the way of what they believe, from birthers who refuse to accept Obama is an American citizen to those sure health care legislation working its way through Congress would set up “death panels” to “pull the plug on grandma.”

For every one of us whose outburst Wilson, 62, made shudder, others believe it will reward him with a political boost in his conservative South Carolina hometown. An insurance agent told The Associated Press, “He’s the only one who has guts in that whole place. He’ll get re-elected in a landslide.” Guts and heckling didn’t used to share space in the same sentence.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Wilson’s blurt “is indicative of the combativeness he displays all the time when it comes to politics.” This lack of self control is disappointing coming from Wilson, a military attorney who retired as a colonel in the South Carolina National Guard in 2003 after 31 years.

His four sons also served in the military. They must all be very proud of the visual of him heckling the commander in chief on national television with the absence of decorum and respect for the office that have come to pass for political discourse.

Wilson shouted when Obama said extending health care to all Americans who seek it would not mean insuring illegal immigrants. Wilson apologized to the White House, but did not back away from the underlying issue Sept. 10: “People who have come to our country and violated laws, we should not be providing full health care services.”

“Being successful is hard,” Obama observed from the propaganda pulpit which propelled some Americans to cry “socialism” and “indoctrination” and pressure schools to opt out of hearing what a man with a powerful story might have to say about the incredible odds he beat. Where was the patriotic outcry when Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush delivered such speeches? – Reagan’s being particularly political, leaving education to wade into nuclear disarmament, defense funding and taxes. And yes, Democrats howled. What a ridiculous fuss when we refuse to discuss important issues which confront us because it’s easier to sit back and let everything Twitter twits do with their megaphones entertain us. “National debate” is an oxymoron, too, when school districts in Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin won’t even let students hear the President of the United States of America.

If you’ve watched the debate on the $2.5 trillion a year we spend on health care (Obama said changes he wants would cost $900 billion over a decade, “less than we have spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and less than the tax cuts for the wealthiest few Americans” passed during the Bush administration), there’s a lot of propaganda to dissect that could be nurtured in a classroom setting.

Students could learn to consult unbiased resources, such as factcheck.org (where “Seven Falsehoods About Health Care” is posted) or the Pulitzer Prize-winning politifact.com.
“As the father of four children, I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology.” That wasn’t a Twitter twit who said that, but Florida Republican Jim Greer. Before he had any idea what Obama might say.
“My kids watched it and I thought it was appropriate,” Greer said afterward. President Obama preached taking personal responsibility, not blaming others for your failures, listening to your parents and your teachers and working hard because, “Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.” That’s not socialism, that’s the GOP platform.

What Obama, offering himself as an example of a “good-off” who went on to make good, had to say about success is no lie:

“You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.”

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