Point of personal privilege, as I note that the Aberdeen American News has its priorities straight:
Who gets her picture above President Barack Obama? Pastor Erin, on Mother’s Day weekend, and right next to our 13th anniversary. President Schmesident—let’s woot-woot my wife!
Funny, that juxtaposition, since now I’ve got to bag on President Obama for going all theocrat on me in the conclusion of his Lake Area Vo-Tech commencement speech in Watertown yesterday:
To the Class of 2015, you have earned the chance to walk the road to freedom and to make of your lives what you will; to write that next great chapter in our American story. And your path will not always be easy, and your way forward will not always be clear. But you have worked hard for this moment. And if you hold fast to that faith in yourself and in your country and in our God, then the greatest moments of your journey are the ones that still lie ahead [President Barack Hussein Obama, commencement address, Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, South Dakota, 2015.05.08].
Our God? Barack, you’re killing me here! Did your advance people really verify that you and the 700+ graduates whom you honored yesterday all believe in the same God? Are you really saying that holding fast to your God (not even any god or gods, but your one God, with a capital G) is a necessary condition to enjoying a successful life? Do you really believe that everyone who adopts the Christian faith will avoid poverty and other hardships? And is it really the place of any elected leader who has sworn an oath to uphold the properly church-state separating United States Constitution to exhort any American to adhere to that leader’s religion?
I wonder: would a President Bernie Sanders say such religiously insensitive things?
Mr. President, I have never held fast to your religious faith. I don’t have a problem with your or my wife’s holding fast to said faith. Throughout my counterexemplary faithlessness, my adult life has only become richer, bringing me ever more interesting, challenging and satisfying experiences and friendships. Your statement that the “greatness” of my “journey” hinges on my faith in your God thus appears to be not only unconstitutional but incorrect.
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Deep breaths. Snack break. Walk around the block.
* * *
Other than that, the President’s speech was pretty good. A majority of his text—well over 2,000 out of the 3,700 words delivered—was specific and unique to South Dakota and the Lake Area graduates. It was funny: the President issued an executive action guaranteeing the graduates lifetime student discounts at Buffalo Wild Wings (“B-Dubs”—the President is hipper than I). Even Governor Dennis Daugaard, stuck in the TV frame to the President’s right throughout the Commander-in-Chief’s 24 minutes at the LATI podium, had to crack a smile when the President said the graduates probably weren’t thinking about hard work, sacrifice, and the idea that we Americans are all one family while they “celebrated Thirsty Thursday last night.” He knocked the “He’s so arrogant” fabrication out of the Limbaugh-listeners in the hall by saying, “I didn’t come here to inspire you. I came here because you, the graduates, inspire me.”
The President also made some vital points on principle and policy. Invoking Hubert Humphrey, he said, “The road to freedom begins in the classroom.” Working toward that line, the President laid out the case for making community college free and universal:
So stories like Joe’s, and Leanna’s, and Maysa’s, and Colin’s — they are our proof that community colleges like this one are a vital path to the middle class for millions of Americans. In just two years, schools like this can change lives, change careers, grow our economy. It can change our country.
All of us are better off when our businesses have access to the best-trained workers in the world. All of us are better off when entrepreneurs like Colin and Maysa can boost their hometown economies, and make it more attractive for young people to stay. All of us are better off when a parent like Leanna can make ends meet and provide for her kids. All of us are better off when a patriot like Joe can keep serving his country [President Obama, 2015.05.08].
(Ah, the speech coach says: excellent use of repetition, combined with continued references to people the audience knows and cares about.)
The President noted that we helped lots of this year’s LATI graduates with Pell Grants. He said we could offer that same help to every willing worker with one simple policy change and a little gumption from Congress:
I want to lower the cost of community college in America to zero. I want to make it as easy to go to community college as it is to graduate from high school, if you’re willing to work hard.
Now, I know some of you graduates are wishing we could go back in time and make the last two years free. (Laughter.) I get it. I do, too. But if folks in Congress decided to make this a priority, we could do the next best thing and make community college free for an entire generation of young Americans, as long as they’re willing to work, keep their grades up, be responsible, graduate on time. And we could pay for it by closing just one loophole for millionaires and billionaires. Just one. (Applause.) Just one tax loophole enjoyed almost entirely by very few at the top, we could offer a quality education to millions of middle-class Americans. It’s in everybody’s interest.
We live in a 21st century economy that rewards knowledge and innovation like never before. So as a country, we can’t afford to let any striving American be priced out of the education they need to get ahead. For everybody willing to work for it, we need to make two years of community college as free and universal as high school is today. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do. [President Obama, 2015.05.08].
PNR, take note: the President is tying free community collage tuition to some of the judgmentality you and Thomas Sowell say help for the poor should include. President Obama is saying he’ll pay for kids’ two-year degrees, but the kids will have to get good grades and get through on time. His proposal even nods toward the Tennessee free-two-year-degree plan’s community-service requirement. PNR, since private scholarships aren’t making universal K-14 possible, may we accept the government assistance President Obama proposes to promote our common wealth?
President Obama’s offer to add two-year degrees to part of our American concept of free and universal public education would make history. It would also help nine million young Americans make more money. Yet our Congressional delegation walked out of yesterday’s ceremony saying this bold plan is just too big, too costly.
Keep trying, Mr. President. Keep trying.