A speech I never thought I'd hear from a politician !
Joanne Jacobs ran a post last week featuring the following portion of a speech by Barack Obama: (If you go to Joanne's post, she has a YouTube video of the speech.)
“It’s not good enough for you to say to your child, ‘Do good in school,’ and then when that child comes home, you’ve got the TV set on,” Obama lectured. “You’ve got the radio on. You don’t check their homework. There’s not a book in the house. You’ve got the video game playing.”
Each line was punctuated by a roar, and Obama began to shout, falling into a preacher’s rhythm. “Am I right?”
“So turn off the TV set. Put the video game away. Buy a little desk. Or put that child at the kitchen table. Watch them do their homework. If they don’t know how to do it, give ‘em help. If you don’t know how to do it, call the teacher.”
By now, the crowd of nearly 2,000 was lifted from the red velveteen seats of the Julie Rogers Theatre, hands raised to the gilded ceiling. “Make ‘em go to bed at a reasonable time! Keep ‘em off the streets! Give ‘em some breakfast! Come on! Can I get an amen here?”
Whooooooooooooooooo, went the crowd. “You know I’m right,” Obama laughed. “And, since I’m on a roll, if your child misbehaves in school, don’t cuss out the teacher! You know I’m right about that! Don’t cuss out the teacher! Do something with your child!”
Now, I have been following the presidential primary and caucus contests closely, but I still haven't made up my mind who I think should be the next president. Barack Obama has inspired many people, and I think that's terrific, but I've got my concerns about him. I'm concerned about his Iraq policy. I'm concerned about his inexperience. I'm concerned because I know that someone can run a terrific campaign to become president, but then that same person might not be able to govern effectively, like Jimmy Carter. I think about John Kennedy being unable to get things through a Congress controlled by his own party, and I have to wonder how Obama would do with a Congress that is divided much more sharply along partisan lines than it was in the 60s, and with a Senate that has decided filibusters should be thrown around like candy. I am concerned because Kennedy was also able to inspire people, but mistakes he made in dealing Cuba and the Soviet Union early in his presidency almost led to World War III. I am concerned because while Obama talks about bipartisanship, he is the most liberal Democrat that we have in the Senate, and he has never really reached across the aisle like John McCain and Hillary Clinton have.
I won't say, yet, that I will vote for Obama, but I am thrilled by this speech. It is a speech that I never thought I would hear a presidential candidate give. It is so much easier to blame teachers, schools, or government for the poor performance of kids in school. Never did I think I would hear a presidential candidate tell parents that they've got to do their jobs better.
Many of the commenters on Joanne's post reacted to the speech by questioning his policies, and I guess that's fair. One commenter said that Obama's speech was just a warmed over version of what Bill Cosby has said. That may be true, but Bill Cosby wasn't running for president, and if he offended anyone by saying it, he really didn't have anything to lose. Regardless of what policies he has supported in the past, and what policies he's proposing for the future, I believe that a presidential candidate saying the things that Obama said is a huge step forward.