Rufus Sanders had a fiery piece in Monday's paper about the controversy over President Obama's speech to the nation's schoolchildren. I wanted to add a couple of points to what Sanders had to say.
Sanders writes, "The issue here is that a black man is president of the United States of America. And that is still an impossible pill to swallow for so many. There. I said it. It needed to be said. The total disrespect for President Obama is really what this is all about."
I'm sure there's an element of that — if a polite, well-spoken politician like Obama can't get an opposition that's civil in its tone, who would? But I also think the controversy speaks to an element that would not consider the election of any Democrat to be legitimate. If Hillary Clinton had been elected president and tried to speak directly to schoolchildren, I'm sure there would have been controversy about that, too.
I would argue that the controversy hurt Republicans. When right-wing bloggers such as Charles Johnson and James Taranto are ridiculing their fellow Republicans, you've got a problem.
Moreover, Obama has gotten little credit for his attempt to address a serious problem.
Let's face it, the biggest problem in education today is the poor academic achievement of black students. Nothing is more important in domestic policy than figuring out a way to help more black students stay in school, get good grades and go on to college.
Who better to deliver a "study hard and stay in school" message than an educated, smart, black president? Is there a better role model available?