Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Try the outrage du jour: it's bitter, and it's cheap

Read it and weep. Here's the crux of Obama's Hitler-youth-on-opposite-day speech, to be delivered today:

I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.

I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

Scary stuff, I know.

You can, if you like, count the number of "I's" in this excerpt, or in the speech as a whole. You can also count the number of "G's," or the number of "X's," or the number of periods. (Which reminds me: I wonder if the ass who came up with this exegetical method would have preferred that the president describe his experiences and observations in the third person.)

Or, you can just fucking read it, sounding out the letters to see what words they make, and then assembling the words into expressed thoughts called sentences. If you approach it that way, you may discover that the speech isn't about Obama at all. A summary of its content might go as follows: the onus for the future well-being of the United States rests squarely on the shoulders of current students. (A tall order, I suppose, but that's another discussion.)

Maybe you're the sort of Obamaphobe who has recognized that the speech itself is benign, and so have begun to critique its "subtext." The funny thing about this little pivot, as anyone who has ever engaged in literary analysis knows, is that "subtext" is often code for "any damned bullshit thing you want to read into a statement that is otherwise as plain as the nose on your face." You know: kind like what you've done with art analysis.

Or perhaps you're an Obamaphobic parent, and have decided to keep your kid home from school today. In which case, I feel compelled to say: if you're really concerned that this man is going to "indoctrinate" your progeny with a single speech -- even if the speech were partisan, which it's not -- then you'd better start drinking now. Because unless you plan on locking little Bobby or Susie in the basement for the rest of their lives, you've got much much bigger problems in store.

[Photo credit: dregsplod]

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Dan said...

Thanks for posting a link to the full speech, it is really good. As usual, the naysayers dont' really have a leg to stand on - this is exactly the kind of speech that many, many students need to hear, and that even adults such as myself can really benefit from! It's fascinating to see the "Obamaphobes" squirm when they're trying to object to something completely wholesome. Crazy shit.

Numinous said...

The Obamaphobes who are listening and believing Beck & company won't listen to rational, reasoned arguments against their positions. You can show all the birth certificates you want, it won't change them until they WANT to be changed. And it doesn't matter, from an objective point of view, that they "don't have a leg to stand on", because they don't see it that way. They see their side as right (no pun intended) and in the best interest of the country that they know (or see changing and used to know). They can repeat all sorts of faulty reasoned counter-arguments and when that doesn't work can say, "that's just what I believe" and feel justified in that. All of this trumped up, disingenuous rage about whatever Obama does or proposes to do is like an addiction (c'mon, that "help President Obama" phrase is cause for alarm?! Sounds like a quaint throwback to the 50's-'hey kids, let's help out Ike & America by staying in school, we can't let the Reds beat us'). Until the Obamaphobes have some kind of 'intervention-like' revelation and come to question what they hear and believe on their own (and for many, certainly not all, to own up to how much race has to do with it all), they will continue down the road believing more and more illogical and specious arguments. And while I'm at heart an optimist, where that road can lead, is more frightening than Obama giving a speech to students.

Andrew Durkin... said...

Many thanks for the comments, guys.

Joe, I share your optimist-who-is-nevertheless-worried-about-where-this-is-all-going outlook.

I frequently get caught in the trap of trying to argue intelligently with the few vigorously and irrationally anti-Obama folk I personally know. It's frustrating, to say the least...

I'm very curious to see whether tonight's speech will make any difference in the current political dynamic.

Richard said...

It's hard to be optimistic when all the right-wing bloviators continue to...well, bloviate. Little or no constructive criticism, few ideas, only anti-Obama, anti-change rhetoric. I know, turn off the radio and tv and let that world stew in its own juices. The sad thing is just how many people believe jokers like Glenn Beck.