Checking the President

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President Obama’s speech turned out to be fairly innocuous and the criticism of those who were skeptical of Obama’s motives is typically vitriolic. But those of us who distrust the president have good reason to do so. Perhaps no other administration since the days of the political machine has been so open about abusing government for partisan gain. In fact, the original set of lesson plans issued by Obama’s own Secretary of Education had an activity that required students to "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president.” I am quite sure if the Bush or Reagan White House issued a question like that, the Left would not have been so quiescent. Obama has built a strong case for the patriotic citizen to distrust his White House.

The National Endowment of the Arts teleconference emphasized Obama’s agenda by steering the conversation towards artistic work that advance the administration’s ‘focus areas’. The implication was that art that advanced Obama’s agenda will get funded. Attendees were told from the start that the purpose of the conference was to

“… help lay a new foundation for growth, focusing on core areas of the recovery agenda – health care, energy and environment, safety and security, education, community renewal.”

Recovery agenda? Or the Obama agenda? Should I be suspicious of an administration that is steering the arts community towards the very issues that have emerged as controversial? People are influenced – consciously and intuitively – by art. The fact that this conference calls on artists to address those issues that are destroying the administration’s approval ratings is indicative of their goals. Many artists rely on the NEA for their livelihood – I am sure they got the message. Support the administration, support the president, get funded. As a historian, I get nervous when governments try to manipulate the artistic community to serve their ends. The most successful practitioners of this art were the Fourth Reich and Soviet Union. Not exactly good antecedents for America.

The President also neglected to attend the National Day of Prayer event this year. But he was glad to show up at Notre Dame to explain Catholicism to Catholics. The Notre Dame address will be remembered by historians as the first overt imperialist act of this president. Obama used the now-wearisome phrases of ‘bipartisan discussion’ and ‘open and respectful debate’. But when – before or after – has the President invited anyone to discuss in a public forum alternative perspectives on issues? Never. In fact, when opposition organizes, this administration is aggressively dismissive of them.

The Tea Parties springing up across the nation represent a challenge to the administration. Yet this morning, Robert Gibbs stated that the White House was ‘unaware’ of a group organizing a protest in the Washington Mall. In fact dissent in any form is subject to nothing but contempt. Hypocritical contempt, actually. Cindy Sheehan used to be the darling of Democrats, encouraged and defended by the anti-war left. Now that Obama is running the war, she’s not so welcome. Nancy Pelosi encouraged anti-war protestors just a few years ago. In fact she encouraged a group of protestors to disrupt a forum on the Iraq war.

“I appreciate that. I appreciate that you as advocates can say that. That’s okay. That’s okay.”

Representative Wilson won’t be so lucky if Pelosi gets her way. His remarks in the chamber of the House was rude and contrary to the custom of the House…most of the time. John Boehner, the House Minority Leader, should discipline him according to practice and tradition. Expect something along the lines of the Salem Witch Trials as the Administration and Congressional leadership seek to divert attention from their failing policies and sagging poll numbers with bread and circuses. I am trying to remember which Bush State of the Union addressed highlighted frequent interruptions by Democratic members of the House and Senate. That speech was punctuated with several loud, sustained ‘boos’.  I wonder if the future Speaker of the House was taking names of the offenders or if she was embracing her ‘advocacy’ of the alternative perspective.

As it turned out, the education speech was harmless…actually I think it may have been plagiarized from Bill Crosby. I would be willing to wager that the speech he delivered was not the speech he had planned to give. I am sure that the original speech was much more…shall we say….ideologically strident in tone.


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