Accentuate the Positive

I ridiculed the Department of Education materials that accompany President Obama’s speech to American school children here, and I stand by the view that any self-respecting American schoolkid could only respond to such lameness with rebellion. But now I want to address the speech itself, which will mostly be good, if Obama sticks to the script. Consistent with this post’s theme, I’ll only mention the good parts.

When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.
Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”

I like this. During the summer, it’s all I can do to get my kids up before noon, so references to study sessions at 4:30 in the morning are welcome.

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

Woo-hoo! All references to debate teams are to be applauded. Today I wore a “Dartmouth debate” t-shirt while I was running errands, and, frankly, felt a little silly. It’s good to know that Barack has my back.

My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.
So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.
But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams.

If Obama would spend more time on this kind of theme and less on trying to promote socialism, he could be a good President. There are a lot of kids out there who would benefit from such a Presidential message, if it weren’t accompanied by a “never mind, we’re going to socialize everything anyway” subtext.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That’s not just happy talk, it’s the truth. I wish Obama actually believed it.

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.
But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures.

Could we please, please have more of this kind of message, and less left-wing, anti-American, anti-free enterprise bullshit?

No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work.

I’ve told my own kids this a thousand times. No one is born smart. Notwithstanding the common belief among teenagers that every high school class has at least four or five “geniuses,” there is only one way to make yourself smart: mind-numbingly hard work.
The Obama administration is off to a horrible start, but it isn’t yet a lost cause. If Obama could put aside his dopey left-wing ideology and stick to this kind of positive message, he could yet salvage his Presidency. But I’m afraid he doesn’t have it in him to do that.
PAUL adds: I’m not sure Obama is even capable of messing with “Mr. In-Between.”


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