Helping the Prez

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

In case you have better things to do with your life than trying to keep up with every outburst of political hysteria in the Age of Obama, here’s the latest: the president announced yesterday that he would be giving a live speech to schoolkids next Monday, wherein he would extol the virtues of hard work, learning to read and cipher, etc. etc.  Teaching materials related to the speech were provided by the Ed Department.  Conservatives went predictably bonkers, accusing Obama of trying to brainwash our nation’s youth, push his socialist agenda into the classroom, and create a cult of personality among impressionable children.

Today he backed off slightly:

In a set of bullet points listed under a heading, “Extension of the Speech,” one of the points used to say: “Write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals.”

However, that bullet point now reads as follows: “Write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short?term and long?term education goals. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals.”

When conservatives started ranting about death panels, Mickey Kaus suggested that if Dems had any sense they never would have inserted the language about advance directives into their bill in the first place.  They should have known it would cause problems.  I disagreed: if it hadn’t been death panels, it just would have been something else.  There’s no way to sanitize a bill enough to keep it safe from folks like Betsy McCaughey and Sarah Palin.

But I’m on the other side on this one.  What the hell was Obama’s brain trust thinking?  The whole idea of the speech may have been misguided in the first place given the realities of modern hyperpartisan politics (be honest: you wouldn’t have been thrilled if George Bush had done something like this), but including a bullet point asking kids “what they can do to help the president”?  A five-year-old could have figured out that might cause a little bit of red-state heartburn.

Obviously the president shouldn’t spend all his time worrying about what the lunatic fringe thinks.  Still, the world is what it is.  Why give them obvious ammunition?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest