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More Indoctrination


 

Now that we’ve spent the last week learning about the indoctrinational (probably not a word) nature of a stay-in-school address, I hope these lessons can be applied to other things kids might see on TV screens. Like Schoolhouse Rock. Or this propaganda message. You may think it’s innocent enough, but it tells kids that “Mr. T don’t lie,” setting them up to believe anything he tells them, and it also creates a cult of personality by encouraging them to “be cool just like me.”

On a less glib and sarcastic note, one of the interesting things about the way controversies like this are covered — apart from the fact that they are covered, and get saturation coverage from the very pundits who admit that the controversies are ridiculous — is that the end result is always a win for the side that starts the controversy, even if most people disagree with them. Their side wins in two ways. One, they tie up cable-news coverage for days with the “is the President indoctrinating your children? some say yes, others say no” stories. And two, by staking out an extreme position, they allow others on their side to portray themselves as sensible moderates. We saw this with Newt Gingrich and Laura Bush and other Republicans who said there wasn’t anything wrong with the President speaking to children. This was portrayed as the “centrist” position. And that’s a net win for their side.

In the world of 24-hour news coverage, there always have to be three sides: the right, the left, and the sensible middle. The right does a better job of grabbing hold of the agenda in the U.S. because they understand that if the “right” position is as extreme as possible, then anything even slightly to the left of that will be portrayed as being centrist, which is how you get Newt Gingrich or John McCain portrayed as centrists. The Democrats lose these debates because, in their zeal to prove they’re centrists and distance themselves completely from the left flank, they forgot that this just winds up pushing the centre further to the right. (So even though Obama’s governance has not been liberal, the narrative is that he has been too liberal, as it always is with Democratic presidents, because his governance is the leftmost on the acceptable range of ideas. Whereas George W. Bush and even Reagan could distance themselves from other, more right-wing ideas that had been introduced into the mainstream.) We saw that in the health care debate, where the public option — because the Democrats themselves portrayed it as the most left-wing among the acceptable range of ideas — has become the “leftist” idea, allowing the Republicans to (again) paint themselves as the centrists.

The Republicans allow very right-wing ideas into the mainstream of the debate, and get to be centrists by staking out a position slightly to the left of that. It’s a much smarter strategy.


 

More Indoctrination

  1. So I guess Mr. T's staffers were caught inserting tone-deaf political messages into the first draft of his material, too?

  2. So I guess Mr. T's staffers were similarly caught inserting tone-deaf political messages into the first draft of his material, and embarrassed into backing down too?

  3. So I guess Mr. T's writers were similarly caught inserting tone-deaf political messages into the first draft of his material, and were also embarrassed into backing down?

    • I think telling kids to treat their mothers right is way more politically tone-deaf than asking kids to "help the president" deal with the issues raised in the speech, meself. Where does Mr. T get off inserting himself into the American family?

    • I think telling kids to treat their mothers right is way more politically tone-deaf than asking kids to "help the president" deal with the issues raised in the speech they just heard. Where does Mr. T get off inserting himself into the American family?

    • 'caught' implies catching one in the act. It was the lack of evidence that made this further farcing (probably also not a word) of America depressing to witness.

      I pity the foo's who bought into that jibber-jabber.

    • You may wish to do some research on how speeches are written, approved, etc. Some of the first drafts of speeches written for leaders of all parties would curl your hair, make you laugh or make you crazy.

      It's part of the process, one used by all sides.

    • "Caught"?!?

      What's your source on that?

    • "tone-deaf political messages"

      Is that like when Reagan was talking to the kiddies about lower taxes and keeping their hard earned wealth?

      I don't find anything particularly wrong with these types of statements, but the double-standard is too rich, as always, with the Republicians.

  4. Almost exactly 8 years ago today, George Bush learned of the 9/11 attacks from his seat at the front of a Kindergarten classroom.

    I don't recall Fox News decrying Bush's many such appearances as attempts to indoctrinate anybody.

    • There's a difference between addressing 30 kids and addressing 30 million kids.

  5. I think you've perfectly characterized the way the right manipulates the media. They've been doing this for years now, and there's no sign it will stop working any time soon, unfortunately.

  6. Wow, it is Obama doing a nationwide address (another one) and this time he chooses to target the children, just for some variety. Now, I know being the president is a big job, but it does not turn you into the supreme being. So I don't think it's appropriate for Obama to be turning himself into the national schoolmaster. It seems to me that is not part of his job description.

    Of course, Weinman and his band of lefties thinks it's perfectly fine because they agree with what he is saying – although funny enough, that's impossible because he hasn't said it yet.

    Anyway, I don't think it is appropriate to turn the classroom into a political arena. So Obama should butt out. If he wants to make an argument, he should talk to the parents. If the parents like it, then they can repeat it to their kids. Obama is not the supreme being, he is not the national schoolmaster, and he is not the parent of every American child. Lefties are so damn arrogant.

    • Did you actually read the speech, or were you too busy coming up with bon mots such as "supreme being" and "national schoolmaster"? It's available online, having been delivered *today*. Really, it received extensive news coverage and you claim "he hasn't said it yet"?

      It was a milquetoast pep-rally speech about personal responsibility and staying in school. The manufactured outrage about this speech is every bit as stupid and baseless as the manufactured outrage about phony "death panels".

      Before swaggering around calling people "arrogant", you might want to check your basic facts. Honestly, hold yourself to a higher standard, it's ridiculously easy.

  7. Ok Weinman, was it "centrist" or left-wing for the Dems to launch Congressional hearings and a General Accounting Office investigation after President Bush's 1991 school address? Inquiring minds want to know.

    In a world of 24-hour news coverage the right-middle-left spectrum gets distorted by the fact that the media perceives everything to their right as being "right-wing" when in fact they themselves are largely to the left of the general public. This is how we get pointless-yet-biased articles like this one.

  8. Ok Weinman, was it "centrist" or left-wing for the Dems to launch Congressional hearings and a General Accounting Office investigation after President Bush's 1991 school address? Inquiring minds want to know. And if that was centrist, then does that make the Republicans' complete lack of interest in doing the same now "left-wing"? Gosh, this whole spectrum thing can be pretty confusing when some history is thrown into the mix!

    In a world of 24-hour news coverage the right-middle-left spectrum gets distorted by the fact that the media perceives everything to their right as being "right-wing" when in fact they themselves are largely to the left of the general public. This is how we get uninformative-yet-biased articles like this one.

    • "Uninformative yet biased" pretty much describes every comment you make.

    • Yep, the media is clearly to the left of the American people. That's why pro-war, anti-public-option, anti-torture-investigation voices are never given any serious credence.

      • Yes, it clearly is, as this and this suggest. You'll notice that while journalists overwhelmingly (i.e. 15:1) favour the Democrats, the general public seems to be more along the lines of 50:50. (see the last several Presidential elections for reference)

      • Yes, it clearly is, as this and this suggest. You'll notice that while journalists overwhelmingly (i.e. 15:1) favour the Democrats, the general public seems to be more along the lines of 50:50. (see the last several Presidential elections for reference)

        That would make the media more left-leaning than the American public. Shocker, I know.

    • Don't be such a dolt. The political play on Bush's speech was the usual jabber about cost.
      Not that Bush was going to eat kiddies' brains and turn them into socialist zombies.

      Settle back and watch CNN tell us about how Afghanistan is going swimmingly.

      • Actually what the Left had to say about it was this:

        "The Department of Education should not be producing paid political advertising for the president, it should be helping us to produce smarter students" – Democrat House Majority Leader

        "The White House turned a Northwest Washington junior high classroom into a television studio and its students into props" – Washington Post (i.e. part of that completely not left-biased media)

        Note: the issue isn't wasted funds, it's the idea of a President giving a televised speech in a school.

        Now, given your half-baked notions concerning this incident, perhaps you can cut the snark about my one-sided media viewing.

        • Your one-sided media viewing deserves all the snark it gets.

          You know that the minor blah-blah about the Bush speech was purely political
          clap-trap that rode the $26K cost to its' logical and deserved conclusion.

          It was not the madness that's loose in the US today and that the media's lazy
          he said- he said coverage gives legitimacy.

          • "minor blah-blah"? Congressional hearings, dude, and a GAO investigation. Read the link.

  9. "Otherwise, not a damn peep from anyone, not even on the good liberal McNeil/Lehrer Newshour."

    Right…not a damn peep…other than the Congressional hearings held by the Democrats, and the GAO investigation. Read the link above. It's fascinating stuff.

  10. By the way, you remember our last discussion (and I use that term loosely) about Trutherism among ranking members of the Democrat party? Two more words for you: Van Jones.

  11. "Otherwise, not a damn peep from anyone, not even on the good liberal McNeil/Lehrer Newshour."

    Right…not a damn peep…other than the Congressional hearings held by the Democrats, and the GAO investigation. Read the link above. It's fascinating stuff.

    I actually agree with you. A speech to the students in school is no big deal. But I really love the double standard, because when a Republican did it it somehow was a really big (bad) deal to the Democrats and the press. Of course, one wouldn't know that by reading the press today. It's all irrelevant now (from the Press's point of view) since the current President is a Democrat.

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