A Speech Worthy of All the Fuss
By Jo-Ann Armao
A lot of pundits are seizing on the uproar over today’s presidential speech to the nation’s school children as further evidence of a bumbling White House. How could they let something so innocuous become so controversial?
But, after watching President Obama's speech, I'm convinced that the administration actually may have ended up outfoxing its critics. The furor -- as silly as it was -- focusing more attention on the event than it likely would have gotten in the first place.
The president essentially told students, on what for many is the first day of classes, that they needed to put in the hard work it takes to succeed. It’s an important message, but not one that would normally dominate the blogosphere or generate page-one headlines. So, criticism by conservatives and others of the president trying to foist his socialist agenda on unwitting children likely lead more people to tune into the events at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va.
Those who did were rewarded with a vintage performance by the president. Powerfully delivered, the speech drew on Obama’s experiences to speak directly to young people. “My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled...There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit,” he said. Obama brought in life lessons of others -- famous (Michael Jordan and J.K. Rowling) and not (Jazmin Perez, Andoni Schultz) -- to try to inspire children to set goals and not be discouraged by failure. “Don’t ever give up on yourself,“ he said.
In truth, there was nothing new or even terribly profound in the president’s address; critics were already labeling it corny and a waste of precious classroom time. But, if it ended up inspiring just one student to study more, take a harder class or stay in school -- it was a speech worthy of all the fuss.
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