Speaking of speaking

May 8, 2014


This upcoming graduation season, before the first note of Pomp and Circumstances is played, some of the players on the “Commencement Speech Circuit” are being questioned about their presence at present giving ceremonies this spring.

First up is first lady Michelle Obama, whose White House plans for her are to mark the 60th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, which legally ended racial segregation in public schools on May 17, 1954, by giving the commencement speech to Topeka’s High School “Class of 14” was kiboshed.

By combining the graduating seniors of five high schools in Topeka on May 17 it became clear to families that they would have to un-invite siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles who had originally planned to celebrate with about 1,000 Topeka graduating seniors on their special day.

That’s when an online petition successfully gave graduation day back to Topeka seniors and their families by stating:

“This is their day, not Michelle Obama’s”

No word yet out of Washington if this event was planned by Kathleen Sebelius.

So now the Topeka High School seniors can celebrate with their families as the Lame Duck First Lady has clicked her “Red Ruby Slippers” and changed her Kansas appearance to May 16.

Next up is former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who backed out of her role as commencement speaker at Rutgers University in New Jersey last Saturday after protests by some students over her role in the Bush administration during the Iraq War.

What!? That’s all it took for Rice to change her mind. A protest. Too bad these students didn’t protest back when they were in the third grade.

Another protest in New Jersey took place at Rowan University last month when several Rowan students were ejected from a town hall meeting held by Gov. Chris Christie for heckling him and shouting criticisms about his handling of Hurricane Sandy relief funding and the George Washington Bridge scandal.

Guess who is going to be Rowan University Commencement speaker this spring?

If you guessed Gov. Christie you’re either clairvoyant, read ahead or are on to my sarcasm.

There will be no protests at New York University’s satellite campus located in Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island in the United Arab Emirates when NYU’s east, make that middle east branch, commencement address is delivered by former President Clinton.

If there is, it might be, “Off with your head”

According to the Human Rights Watch, the United Arab Emirates has a long list of abuses including jailing political dissidents, criminalizing political speech, torturing prisoners, and denying women their basic legal rights.

So why is the former U.S. President flying halfway around the world to address 140 graduates?

$eem$ the la$t time Pre$ident Clinton wa$ there in 2011 he earned $500,000 for $peaking.

Speaking of speaking, Part I — For most of the political figures giving graduation speeches in the USA, this practice is yet another form of double dipping. They’re getting paid by taxpayers whether they’re still serving their political position or retired and combined with their speaking fee, except for private schools, which is paid by schools funded by taxpayers.

Speaking of speaking, Part II — If this was your senior year at Funcoast University, what living personality would you want to be your commencement speaker? Keep in mind it does not have to a politician. One possiblity is having a successful business person. Maybe someone who is effective enough to figure out in the business world how to get paid twice by the same group of people. Oops! That brings us back to the business of politics. So, should it concern us where President Obama is speaking this year? Nope. Nada. Nein.

It’s where he’s not speaking that should concern us.

The Naval Academy, the Coast Guard Academy, the Merchant Marine Academy and the Air Force Academy.

That’s right. Our commander in chief is not visiting and personally congratulating the graduates at four of our country’s service academies with his words of wisdom this spring.

The president is going to West Point this spring to commence the cadets but this is the time of the year when, no matter who our commander in chief is, all the military institutions of higher learning should have their commencement address given by their leader.

Because it’s a no brainer this would be the perfect opportunity for our no brain Congress to pass a public law mandating that every year our Commander-in-Chief give the “Our future depends on your future” speech to all the graduates of our service academies in the USA.

How hard could it be? What else is the president doing on Saturdays in the spring?


If it is too inconvenient for the president to make the multiple trips perhaps the service academy graduates could convene in one place.

I hear Topeka is available.



Oh brother--now to condemn the POTUS on commencement speaking engagements.
I took the liberty and did some research for you Hoefert--
President Obama will deliver commencement speeches at three institutions this year: West Point Military Academy, Worcester Technical High School and the University of California, Irvine.
Last year Obama gave commencement addresses at Ohio State University, the Unites States Naval Academy and at Morehouse College, an all-male historically black college in Atlanta.
Obama has addressed graduates at Barnard College, an all-women’s school affiliated with Columbia University in upper Manhattan, the United States Air Force Academy, the United States Military Academy, Notre Dame University, as well as graduates at the Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis.
If you're considered to be a "Sandusky-based humor columnist" then I'm the Queen of England. Not funny -AT ALL.

Peachy Keen

I agree, Meowmix. Hoefert hates,loathes and abominates anything and everything about Obama. I'm not a huge fan of Obama, but it gets old when every column is the same. Doesn't matter what...if Obama did or didn't do it, Hoefert is against it. He's just another person who, whatever their beliefs are, only sees things through political blinders and views everything in absolutes. I imagine the Register is saving a lot of money by allowing "Santa" and also another fellow who is an ex-con with a dubious past be the "local columnists" in this paper. They fill unused space for free...kind of like the plethora of out-of-town, out-of-county police blotters that have blossomed in recent months. An easy way to fill pages.


Re: "Michelle Obama...giving the commencement speech"

The problem: No planned announcement of a big fat billion dollar fed subsidy to the area.


Michelle Obama responded to the hubbub with grace. The White House itself made the offer to have the First Lady speak the day before the traditional graduation ceremonies. This will be at a special senior recognition ceremony held at the same cavernous Expocentre where the students will walk the stage to receive their diplomas the following day. Graduating seniors will receive six tickets each for the First Lady's event. The next-day traditional graduation ceremonies will be open to all and will feature the rituals of each school.


Re: "Huh?????"

Fur ball? Don't choke.

Point: They needed to bribe 'em with taxpayer money (typical lib ploy).

You'd have to pay me (and numerous others) A LOT to sit and listen to her screed.


That's too bad... I would consider it an honor to see her and hear her speak.


Well if you do hear her speak, take notes on how she made a fortune from insurance companies, and also could you please ask why here law license was taken away? Enquiring minds want to know.

Licorice Schtick

Baseless partisan smear by the enquiring mindless. She made no fortune on insurance companies, and her law license was not taken away.

Licorice Schtick

Don't worry, Con. When the invitation comes, you can just throw it away.


What could Mooch say that would have any benefit to a graduate? Except maybe "I'm sorry, me and my significant others ideology destroyed the economy, but you can get free birth control and have an abortion."


Contango: Meh. If it weren't for the sort of racism that the Republican Party has endorsed for decades, Brown vs. Board of Education wouldn't be on anyone's map. It probably would be best for conservatives such as yourself to simply remain quiet on the topic. Especially as the ones who are receiving the BIGGEST government subsidies are the richest of the rich...you know, the heroes of the Republican Party?

It's kind of sad that you always assume that there is some skullduggery involved. Fox, of course, peddles the "everything is a conspiracy" thing, and of course, the Bush White House was full of unethical actions, so I suppose I can understand your cynicism. Sure is a sad way to live your life, though. Hey, it's never too late to join the Democratic Party: we are happy people and inclusive to everyone. You never know, you might enjoy not being a grump...


LOL! Brown vs Board of education was in 1954. Guess which party was for segregation? Learn some history before opening your pie hole acting like the democrats were for civil rights.
As for the rich being the heroes of the Repubs I suggest looking in the mirror or at least campaign donations of 2008 and who those rich wall street people support. Oh look 85 billion just went to wall street.


The perfect lawn has always been environmentally unsustainable, its non-native grasses guzzling precious water and nourished by chemical fertilizers, its unblemished sward a victory over insurgent flora and fauna achieved through sustained carpet-bombing with toxic herbicides and pesticides. In an age of water wars and global warming, it’s morally obscene. According to a 2002 Harris Poll, 50-70% of all urban fresh water is squandered on lawns, more than half of which is wasted “because of inappropriate timing or dosage. Nearly all the water used could be saved by appropriate use of native landscaping that does not require any watering beyond natural rainfall.” We dose our lawns with 67 million pounds’ worth of synthetic pesticides annually, three times the amount used, per acre, on agricultural crops. We spend $5.25 billion on fossil-fuel-derived lawn fertilizers, whose fringe benefits include poisoning surface and ground water. Our gas-powered mowers produce as much pollution in one hour as our cars do over the course of a 20-mile drive; every year, they guzzle 580 million gallons of gas.

Licorice Schtick

Ask your doctor about adding Abilify.



Meowmix is right. The lady is extremely graceful as is Condoleezza Rice. All this protesting is getting ridiculous. Both women really represent the country well and are very accomplished. It's the student's loss.


So true! I wasn't a big fan of Ms. Rice nor her boss, but I still would have felt it an honor if she would have been around back then to address my graduating class. I can't for the life of me remember who spoke at my commencement, just goes to show how unmemorable he/she must have been. :}

Stop It

Race card!

AJ Oliver

OK, Hoefert, what are your patriotic credentials that give you the right to judge others? Not just political figures, but anyone.
However, you are correct that its problematic for Clinton to speak in the Emirates; but don't for a minute think that there are NOT political prisoners in the US. Here is a recent one - Cecily McMillan http://www.commondreams.org/head...


Not surprising at all as Cecily McMillan is a woman who complained of abuse by a male law enforcement officer.

Let's see Human Rights Watch accuses the UAE of "jailing political dissidents, criminalizing political speech, torturing prisoners, and denying women their basic legal rights." Looks like the USA is 3 for 4 in the McMillan case and 4 for 4 in cases the reports of which have been suppressed.


Re: "Michelle Obama...giving the commencement speech"

Better to have a successful entrepreneur or business owner speak - MUCH more inspirational and potentially useful as one heads out into the world as opposed to a central planning bureaucrat.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

While attributed to Bill Gates, it is actually a quote from a book called "Dumbing Down Our Kids". That commencement speech goes as follows:

Life is not fair - get used to it.

The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world
will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel
good about yourself.

You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out
of high school. You won't be a vice president with
car phone, until you earn both.

If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a
boss. He doesn't have tenure.

Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your
grandparents had a different word for burger flipping
called it Opportunity.

If you mess up,it's not your parents' fault, so don't
whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as
they are now. They got that way from paying your bills,
cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about
how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest
from the parasites of your parent's generation, try
delousing the closet in your own room.

Your school may have done away with winners and losers,
but life has not. In some schools they have abolished
failing grades and they'll give you as many times as
you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the
slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get
summers off and very few employers are interested in
helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

Television is NOT real life. In real life people
actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for


Re: Rule 11

Brings to mind a cheer by students at Northwestern University during Big Ten events where the school would invariably lose:

That's all right that's OK, you're going to work for us someday!


These protests and boycotts seriously need to STOP! I don't like Michelle Obama any better than I like her husband, and I DO like Condoleezza Rice. But that's immaterial. BOTH were invited to a commencement. BOTH would likely give a pretty good speech. BOTH would almost certainly impart something of value to students. But do you know what both of them COULDN'T do? Agree with 100% of everything everybody in the audience thought!

I understand that the Obama speech was a problem for families and so on, so rescheduling her made a good deal of sense so that students could share their accomplishments with their parents and other family members. The First Lady will speak earlier when attendance will be limited, and I'm okay with that. What I'm NOT okay with is preventing Rice from speaking solely because there's something she did (or represented) with which some disagreed.

The threat to free speech is very, VERY real on college campuses from "free speech zones" to active shut-downs of those wanting to express opinions others find offensive or otherwise disagreeable. This is not the kind of exchange of ideas universities once promised, and teaching students that muzzling ANY opinion is acceptable means that their OWN opinion will soon be quashed as well. Of course, they've apparently not been taught enough logic to understand that that's NOT good, not for ANYbody!