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Letter to the Editor

Presidential address to students accepted as standard practice

web posted September 4, 2009
Dear Editor,
For well over 50 years now politicians have been using public schools for photo opportunities, both Republican and Democrat.  In addition, in the last 20 years those opportunities have moved from still photographs to video or taped sessions that we've been able to see on the news. Let's not forget that on the fateful morning of September 11, President Bush was sitting in a Florida classroom reading to school children. I sincerely doubt he was speaking to them about health care or the political climate of the day. As a teenager, I often remember seeing President Reagen speaking to school children. President Clinton also took advantage of the publicity on several occasions during his 8 years in office. 

Make no mistake, with each passing administration the bar is set higher in terms of what is acceptable when it comes to a sitting President speaking at a public school.  Now we read where President Obama will be addressing all public schools via video transmission on September 8th.  As a card carrying Republican my initial feelings on this were negative.  And while I don't consider myself to be a "fear monger" I don't agree with much of what President Obama plans for our country in the coming years.  Still, for the life of me, I can't understand why some parents would prevent their children from attending school next Tuesday.  Just as his predecessors before him, I'm sure that this President doesn't plan on speaking of health care or the present political climate. 

Our American political process requires participation in order to work.  By withdrawing, we as Conservative Republicans lose every opportunity to voice our opinions.  Recently we've seen just how powerful participation in the process can be when our rights are exercised.  Over the last 30 days, in town hall meetings across the country, voters have turned out in mass to speak their minds.    And judging by the Presidents polling numbers at this time, it appears that fighting back has worked. 

Keep in mind that this President is in a free fall in terms of his popularity.  This public school address is nothing more than a way to create  positive spin for his administration, take the focus off of his failed health care bill, and allow him to do what he does best........... talk.  I would encourage parents to not only allow their children to attend school next Tuesday but speak with them about asking questions after the address concludes.  While agree that the classroom is no place for politicians, this is the bed that we've made.  However, as we've recently seen, standing up and fighting is the best way to get our "message out."

Finally, I would like to say that while I'm happy to see parents worried about what little Johnny will be hearing next Tuesday, I promise you that for the most part the TV or DVD player in his room is delivering much worse than what he will hear during this Presidents PR stunt next week. 

John L. Brown Jr.
Edgefield, South Carolina

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