That was then, this is now – how Democrats treated GHWB’s speech to schoolkids

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the last week or so, you’ve seen and maybe even commented about the controversy surrounding President Obama’s speech to schoolchildren, which he has either already given this morning at Wakefield High School in Arlington, VA or will give sometime today (I don’t know the exact schedule of events).

I don’t really have an issue with him giving a speech to schoolkids – provided there is no line in it about how the kids can “help the President” with his agenda (thankfully, there isn’t), and provided it’s pretty innocuous (it is). In fact, it appears as though there is a tradition of sorts surrounding Presidents giving “pep talk”-type speeches to public school students at least once during their respective administrations, and usually in the fall.

What’s interesting to me about all this is the hypocrisy angle. Byron York has a detailed look at how the left treated George H.W. Bush’s speech to school kids in October 1991. They didn’t kick up much of a fuss before the speech, but they sure as heck did after it – even launching a GAO investigation as to whether or not it was appropriate:

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.'”


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.

Not only that, but lost in all of this is how conservatives are being treated as “nuts” by the MSM for being concerned about what the context of Obama’s speech was going to be (the speech transcript was finally released over the weekend), whereas the MSM obviously played an active role in perpetuating the liberal myth that GHWB’s speech was nothing more than “political propaganda.”

Mainstream media hypocrisy? Check. Congressional Democrat hypocrisy? Another check.

Same crap, different day.

GayPatriot asks a good question here in wondering whether or not the speech would have been overtly political in nature had conservatives not made such a fuss about it. My guess is that it probably would not have been, and I say that as someone who takes second place to no one in calling out this administration’s shameless political opportunism time and time again.

Let’s save our energy for the bigger battles we will continue to wage against this administration on a number of issues including the war on terror, cap and trade, the free market, ObamaCare, union favoritism, the rights of the unborn, etc. Compared to those things, his speech to school kids is small potatoes, IMO.

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