President Obama's back to school address: carry an umbrella in a media shitstorm

It's now four hours till President Obama's much debated back to school address. The speech, at 12 pm EST today and intended to be aired live to students of all ages, will focus on the importance of staying school. (You can watch it online at WhiteHouse.gov). Bizarrely, there has been a huge media and political backlash in the US from opponents claiming that Obama's speech is "political" and therefore unsuitable for children to be forced to hear in school. Crazy, right? Especially considering plenty of other presidents have given addresses to schoolkids. But this media shitstorm got so serious that many parents were surprised to find their kids carrying permission slips home which they had to sign to let Junior watch the address. Yeah.

Disclaimer: I worship at the Obama altar so this post is bound to be a bit one-sided; however, I grew up in Oswego, NY, in the days when the TV got wheeled into the classroom on a huge mobile cart for every important televised event, be it a presidential address, or the launching of the Challenger space shuttle. The latter event obviously went disastrously wrong and I still remember how shocked teachers were went it blew up in front of our very eyes, and how confused all the kids were as to what had just happened. I was in the third grade (about 8 years old) and didn't fully understand the enormity of what had just taken place.

We also stood up every single day at 9 am, without fail, put our hands on our hearts and recited the Pledge of Allegiance simultaneously with the entire school. I don't know how common this practice is anymore, but I loved it, and I believe patriotism is one of the things that makes America great.

So - Obama's had to deal with a media crisis over an innocent strategy to stress a very non-political education agenda. And meanwhile his opponents' claims that this is "political" are completely hypocritical because that is exactly what their protests are.

One friend on Facebook described this as "a wholly embarrassing chapter in American history." I couldn't put it better myself.

Obama's media team expertly put the text of his speech online 24 hours before it will be televised to ensure a) any journalist covering it has no excuse not to get his words exactly right; b) to convince any naysayers that his address is actually for the good of children and not pushing some sneaky agenda; and c) to demonstrate just how pointless these weeks of debate have been.

Another masterful move in media manipulation from the Obama camp, the main reason being that his strategy is simple and follows the laws of common sense. It's a media strategy that seems remarkable only for its lack of complexity, but still, it's something that other world leaders could learn from: "carry an umbrella in a media shitstorm." It's not a bad lesson for schoolkids to be reminded of, either.

1 comment:


    Just sit back and relax, folks. Barack Obama is only performing a routine presidential duty that has been performed by presidents for generations. There's nothing to be afraid of. He's not trying to turn your babies into mini Marxists. This isn't the Trotsky For Toddlers program. The president of the United States merely wants to have a heart to heart talk with the children of America about the importance of a good education, that's all. I promise you, we Progressives do not believe in evil, subliminal messages. Chill out!


    Just kidding.


    Tom Degan
    Goshen, NY