Saturday, September 5, 2009
Utah's Conservative Governor Gary Herbert Finds No Harm In Barack Obama's September 8th Speech To Students, Recommends They Listen
Utah's Governor Gary Herbert is about as conservative as one can get. His credentials are unimpeachable. And on September 5th, 2009, he told the media that he finds no particular harm in kids watching Barack Obama's speech on September 8th. Stories from the Deseret News, the Salt Lake Tribune, and KSL Channel 5 (137 comments already).
As a matter of fact, Gov. Herbert actually spoke out in favor of letting children listen to Obama's planned broadcast on Tuesday. "I think it's great. To hear from the president of the United States is an important thing," Herbert said. "I'd like to hear what he has to say."
The governor further said he believes Obama's words will foster excellent discussion. "I hope parents will take the opportunity to discuss the issues with their children, hear what the president's views are and what his vision is for the future of America," Herbert said. "If they agree, then explain that. If they disagree, explain to their children why. I see nothing but good coming out of this," he said. And he's putting his money where his mouth is, since he has grandchildren in the Utah public school system.
On Friday, a psychologically battered and bruised White House fired back against critics of the speech. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed complaints from parents, school districts and political opponents about President Obama’s upcoming back-to-school speech to students as much ado about nothing. “We’ve reached a little bit of the silly season when the president of the United States can’t tell kids to study hard and stay in school,” said Gibbs. Asked about those who call the speech political indoctrination, he said, “Boy, if staying in school is a political message, somebody should tell the N.B.A.” Gibbs also pointed out that President Ronald Reagan gave a similar speech to school children in 1988 and President George H. Bush did so in 1991.
A KSL Channel 5 poll begun on September 3rd still shows that a hard core of 22 percent of 2,329 respondents would keep their kids home from school on that day. A second poll begun by the Tribune asking if students should watch the video now shows a nearly even split between Yes and No votes from 3,937 respondents, an increase in the percentage of No votes from September 3rd.
Because of Governor Herbert's conservative reputation, opposition to letting students listen to the speech is likely to soften somewhat. Many who oppose it are actually more concerned about the student activities surrounding the speech rather than the speech itself. The full agenda can be viewed on the Department of Education website. But in the final analysis, I wouldn't be surprised if at least 10 percent of parents statewide hold their kids out on Tuesday, even though nearly every Utah school district allows an opt-out option.
I think we can find better ways to manifest our opposition to Obama's agenda rather than hold kids out of school and risk costing them an unexcused absence. Do we really want to drag kids into this battle?