With all the rants about President Obama speaking to school children next week, it’s good to remember that he won’t be the first president to do so.
On November 14, 1988, Reagan addressed and took questions from students from four area middle schools in the Old Executive Office Building. According to press secretary Marvin [sic] Fitzwater, the speech was broadcast live and rebroadcast by C-Span, and Instructional Television Network fed the program “to schools nationwide on three different days.” Much of Reagan’s speech that day covered the American “vision of self-government” and the need “to keep faith with the unfinished vision of the greatness and wonder of America” but in the middle of the speech, the president went off on a tangent about the importance of low taxes:
Today, to a degree never before seen in human history, one nation, the United States, has become the model to be followed and imitated by the rest of the world. But America’s world leadership goes well beyond the tide toward democracy. We also find that more countries than ever before are following America’s revolutionary economic message of free enterprise, low taxes, and open world trade. These days, whenever I see foreign leaders, they tell me about their plans for reducing taxes, and other economic reforms that they are using, copying what we have done here in our country.
I wonder if they realize that this vision of economic freedom, the freedom to work, to create and produce, to own and use property without the interference of the state, was central to the American Revolution, when the American colonists rebelled against a whole web of economic restrictions, taxes and barriers to free trade. The message at the Boston Tea Party — have you studied yet in history about the Boston Tea Party, where because of a tax they went down and dumped the tea in the Harbor. Well, that was America’s original tax revolt, and it was the fruits of our labor — it belonged to us and not to the state. And that truth is fundamental to both liberty and prosperity.
I don’t remember anyone getting all lathered up that the president was indoctrinating the impressionable school children with capitalist-lackey tax-cuts-save-the-world Wall Street propaganda; in fact, I don’t remember hearing about the speech at all. That’s probably because nobody really gave a damn, including the school kids, who thought that watching the speech was as good a reason to cut third period French as any, and they probably wondered why they had to sit through a boring old speech by the guy who used to host Death Valley Days.
The difference this time is that, according to the conservative watch dogs, President Obama wants to encourage the students to study hard and achieve good grades so that they can get into college. There they will be indoctrinated with leftist leanings by the long-haired old hippies who are now professors of things like “Women’s Studies” and “Theatre” when they should be out doing real American things like becoming an unlicensed plumber in Toledo or shooting moose from airplanes in Alaska.