Michelle Obama Gets the Unwelcome Mat in Miami

Image via Lighthearted Photography

Stay in school! Graduate! Register to vote!

These are the subversive messages the Obamas have been trying to get into our children’s schools!

Remember a couple of years ago when some super conservative Americans decried the fact that President Obama was going to make a “stay in school” speech to be streamed into classrooms? Many on the political right claimed that was the president’s way of indoctrinating our children into becoming raging liberal Democrats (even though Republican presidents had given similar speeches).

A coordinated political effort followed to keep kids home from school on that day because some parents supposedly feared the possibility of how a message from the President of the United States might influence impressionable young minds. Some of that same rhetoric is now coming from some school board members in Florida over a recent campaign event featuring First Lady Michelle Obama.

The Miami event with the First Lady was held in a public high school auditorium, rented through the usual process that anyone would go through to rent the space during non-school hours. The event’s purpose? To recruit volunteers for the Obama campaign to help get out the vote. According to one news report:

[B]oard member Carlos Curbelo sent a letter to the school board’s attorney saying it is “inappropriate” and “sends the wrong message” for the Obama campaign hold a political event at the school. Curbelo has worked as a Republican strategist, the newspaper noted.

The use of public schools whose only focus should be to educate our children for political gain is downright wrong,” Diaz de la Portilla said in a statement provided to the [Miami] Herald. “Don’t these liberals have boundaries? Our schools are places for learning, not places for politicking.”

So I agree with Curbelo that schools are places of learning.  And if Michelle Obama held a sanctioned re-election campaign event to graduating seniors in the hope of winning a few more Democratic votes in the all-important swing state of Florida, maybe I could see his point. Except that this event was in July. While school was out. When there were no public schoolchildren in the building.  Oh, and there is one other thing to keep in mind — apparently it was perfectly acceptable for Mitt Romney to do the same thing.

When it comes to “politicking,” Republicans know how to put a spin on just about any event to make the most innocuous gathering (like a standard campaign volunteer recruiting session) seem like some evil plan concocted by Lord Voldemort and Sauron from Lord of the Rings.

The funny thing is this — when former First Lady Laura Bush actually went on campaign events held at public schools during the school year, talking to elementary school children, sometimes even with her husband,with the express purpose of bolstering George W. Bush’s re-election and fundraising efforts? Totally kosher and not a peep from anyone (at least that I could find with a relatively quick Google search).

That’s because this is a non-story that is being created for no purpose other than to trash the First Lady. And those doing it know that we live in an ADD culture that often forgets even the recent past. They count on it, in fact, in hopes of making as much political hay as possible on something trivial, that will distract voters from the real issues. If only we had a longer collective memory about these things we wouldn’t have to keep batting down silliness like this in a year when there is so much more we should be focused on.

Come on, Florida Republicans. We know you’re worried about which way your state is going to go in November. But I think you can do better than this.

Image courtesy Lighthearted Photography

  • Helen

    You may even remember that at the moment the 9/11 attack on The World Trade Center took place and planes were headed toward Washington, President Bush was sitting in a Florida classroom reading to school children. Is it subversive or political for the President of the United States, sometimes called the leader of the free world to model good (non-political) behavior? Should that be a problem for a First Lady as well? I think not.

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