Thank you, President-Elect Obama, for reminding me of the crass, calculating moves of politicians. Just when I started feeling overly optimistic about your policy decisions and cabinet appointments, you’ve done 2 things in the past couple of days that are pure calculations, rather than substantive (and progressive) decisions.
First, you named your pick for Secretary of Education. Speaking here as a former teacher, and as someone who taught before No Child left Behind and during it, I have always hoped we might have someone at the top who has actually stood in front of a classroom full of those children and taught. You know, a “teacher.” At the very least, someone who has studied education.
Instead, you have chosen Arne Duncan, Obama hoops pal and former head of the Chicago public schools (thanks only to an appointment by Mayor Richard Daley.) As The Quaker Agitator says:
After all that glittering rhetoric about changing education policy and looking for new ideas and all that good-sounding stuff, what do we have now?
Another test-obsessed, union-busting bureaucrat who has not spent one day of his entire life as a classroom teacher.
It is not clear from his Wikipedia biography that Duncan has ever been in a classroom as anything but a student. But there’s lots and lots about his basketball experience. If you have never juggled the multiple and profound responsibilities of a teacher, perhaps you can’t appreciate this. But I really, really thought Obama could.
And now comes word of Obama’s choice for his inaugural prayer. Normally not a controversial decision, unless, of course, you choose homophobe Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church. The Obama camp is promoting this as being an “inclusive” inauguration. But as Pam’s House Blend writes:
While it’s obvious that an invocation is just a prayer and that Warren is not part of the Obama administration, Warren taking the pulpit as some sort of olive branch to evangelicals and a show of unity and diversity is absurd and insulting symbolism. The fact that the Obama camp’s talking points mention a LGBT marching band’s presence during the official parade shows you how clueless (or calculating, you decide) these folks are.
A marching band is entertainment, someone up at a pulpit (whether you are of faith or not) delivering an invocation is an obvious, powerful symbol of a “message of the day” endorsed by the soon to be sworn-in president. It is delivered by the person selected because of who they are and what they stand for. The only feeble mitigating factor here might be that Warren, if he has any common sense, will not devote a word to his Dobsonesque bigotry should he take to the podium and give a simple blessing devoid of fundamentalist BS. I’m not holding my breath.
Oh well. We’ll always have Paris ….