Commentary: Respecting the office

There are some people in this country who make me shake my head. They make me wonder whether this 233-year-old republic will survive the presidency of Barack Obama. Not because Obama will do things much differently than the preceding 43 presidents, but because they have a deep-seated hate they can't shake.

It's beyond being sore losers. Many of these same people lost two elections to former President Bill Clinton, and while he became the object of their disgust, they didn't hate him because he beat Bush 41 and Sen. Bob Dole.

Along comes Obama, and the hate I see is visceral. These folks don't even know why they hate him. Well, they do, but they can't admit it. Some of the wing nuts, but not all, are still questioning his birth in Hawaii. Would they have the same questions if their candidate, Sen. John McCain, born in Panama, had won?

I got a peek at the hate when there was an uproar over whether a presidential inauguration should be shown to schoolchildren. Jeez. Now President Obama plans to speak to children Tuesday. Schools can participate or not, but I would have to question any educator or parent who would deem it too risky to have the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES speak personally about the need for doing well in school, setting goals and how to meet them.

But of course, anything this president tries to do is seen through one of a number of prisms that range from ideological to racist. You decide where you might fit.

According to, the chairman of the Florida Republican Party, Jim Greer, said, "The idea that school children across our nation will be forced to watch the president justify his plans for government-run health care, banks and automobile companies, increasing taxes on those who create jobs and racking up more debt that any other president, is not only infuriating, but goes against the beliefs of the majority of Americans." Huh.

I guess Greer forgets that Florida accepted $4 billion of that "socialist stimulus money." And last I checked, Republican Charlie Crist is the governor and the state Legislature is controlled by Republicans. Not to mention that's not what the president is going to talk about in his address to children.

But Greer's statements are light compared to others. Michael Medved, for, called the president's efforts to promote education "sick." Huh?

Meredith Jesup on said, "I don't need the government teaching my children anything about what personal responsibility means."

What are these people thinking? This isn’t the first time a president has spoken directly to students, Bush 41 did it in 1991 and his son in 2001. No talk about opting out from the Left or Right back then.

The folks fostering this type of asinine debate seek to demean the office of the presidency. They are pushing our school systems to timidity, and it will be to the detriment of our country.

While I personally disagreed with President Bush's policies, he was my president. I welcomed his address to our nation's students with open arms. If he would have visited any of our schools, I would have considered it an honor. After all he was the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

Opt out your child from this pep talk if you will. Just remember, it says more about you than it does about our president. It tells your child you are a conditional patriot, that it's not all for one and one for all. It tells them you will take your marbles and go home if you don't get your way. Your child might not realize your pettiness now, but someday ...


Charles E. Richardson is the Macon Telegraph's editorial page editor. He can be reached at 478-744-4342 or via e-mail at

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