And no matter what grade you're in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could've stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.
I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn't have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.
"[M]y mother didn't have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school," Obama claims. By all accounts, the two schools Obama attended while he was living in Indonesia were good schools. One was a public school and the other was a Catholic school. The burden didn't fall on his mother alone as he suggests. She had married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian man who had a good job with the government and later an even better job working for an oil company. According to Obama's school records, he took his step-father's name and went by Barry Soetoro. Unlike other American children in Indonesia, he could attend a public school because he was a citizen; foreigners were not allowed to be enrolled in Indonesian schools. His school records identified his citizenship as Indonesian, the same as his step-father's. His mother had to rise early to help teach him because he struggled with learning the country's native language, which he apparently never did learn before leaving the country at age 10. When his mother sent him back to Hawaii to live with his grandparents, he finished out school at the most prestigious and most expensive private school in the state. Yes, his mother may have drawn welfare benefits at one time, but it belies the fact that someone was paying to provide him with one hell of an education when he was growing up.
Obama is an equal opportunity basher when it comes to his biological parents. He had this to say about his father:
My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn't always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn't fit in.People who have bothered to research his background have learned a different story than what he tells of his father abandoning him when he was two years old. His mother married his father, Barack Obama, Sr., when she was 17 years old and three months' pregnant. Within a couple of weeks of his birth six months after their marriage, his mother inexplicably left Hawaii with her new-born son and entered school thousands of miles away at the University of Washington while Obama, Sr. stayed in Hawaii and attended classes at the University of Hawaii. The following year Obama, Sr. left Hawaii to attend school at Harvard sans wife and child. Sorry to bring up the facts, but Obama's mother first left her husband before he left mother and child behind for another life.
So I wasn't always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I'm not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.
But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams.
Once again, Obama brings up having a father missing from his life. I suppose that is true if you believe his step-father, Lolo Soetoro, the father of his half-sister, does not qualify as a father. When his mother later sent him back to Hawaii, he was raised by his grandmother and grandfather. Again, there is a father figure in his life that he chooses to pretend doesn't exist. I guess it's more important to identify will all of the children being raised in single parent homes than to tell the truth.
Despite all of the earlier criticism of the speech, I found most of the speech, laying aside the fibs about his personal life, to be inspirational and to perhaps motivate school children to take their education seriously. I did not find it to be partisan or political in nature. I am offended, however, that our President can conveniently make up facts at will about his life to suit his message and nobody in the mainstream media will call him out on it. What's a little lie between friends, eh?
UPDATE: Speaking of conservative reaction to Obama's speech to American school children, the media and liberals have been up in arms at what they view as the reactionary and naturally racist nature of anyone who objected to Obama's speech today. Before they get too worked up, it's worth reminding them that when the Democrats controlled Congress and President George H.W. Bush delivered a similar type speech to American's school children, the Democrats actually launched an investigation of the Bush administration. Byron York takes us down memory lane in a column today:
The controversy over President Obama's speech to the nation's schoolchildren will likely be over shortly after Obama speaks today at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. But when President George H.W. Bush delivered a similar speech on October 1, 1991, from Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington DC, the controversy was just beginning. Democrats, then the majority party in Congress, not only denounced Bush's speech -- they also ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate its production and later summoned top Bush administration officials to Capitol Hill for an extensive hearing on the issue.
Unlike the Obama speech, in 1991 most of the controversy came after, not before, the president's school appearance. The day after Bush spoke, the Washington Post published a front-page story suggesting the speech was carefully staged for the president's political benefit. "The White House turned a Northwest Washington junior high classroom into a television studio and its students into props," the Post reported.
With the Post article in hand, Democrats pounced. "The Department of Education should not be producing paid political advertising for the president, it should be helping us to produce smarter students," said Richard Gephardt, then the House Majority Leader. "And the president should be doing more about education than saying, 'Lights, camera, action.'"
Democrats did not stop with words. Rep. William Ford, then chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate the cost and legality of Bush's appearance. On October 17, 1991, Ford summoned then-Education Secretary Lamar Alexander and other top Bush administration officials to testify at a hearing devoted to the speech. "The hearing this morning is to really examine the expenditure of $26,750 of the Department of Education funds to produce and televise an appearance by President Bush at Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington, DC," Ford began. "As the chairman of the committee charged with the authorization and implementation of education programs, I am very much interested in the justification, rationale for giving the White House scarce education funds to produce a media event."
Unfortunately for Ford, the General Accounting Office concluded that the Bush administration had not acted improperly. "The speech itself and the use of the department's funds to support it, including the cost of the production contract, appear to be legal," the GAO wrote in a letter to Chairman Ford. "The speech also does not appear to have violated the restrictions on the use of appropriations for publicity and propaganda."
That didn't stop Democratic allies from taking their own shots at Bush. The National Education Association denounced the speech, saying it "cannot endorse a president who spends $26,000 of taxpayers' money on a staged media event at Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington, D.C. -- while cutting school lunch funds for our neediest youngsters."
Lost in all the denouncing and investigating was the fact that Bush's speech itself, like Obama's today, was entirely unremarkable. "Block out the kids who think it's not cool to be smart," the president told students. "If someone goofs off today, are they cool? Are they still cool years from now, when they're stuck in a dead end job. Don't let peer pressure stand between you and your dreams.
The full text of his speech can be viewed here.