I wanted to provide a slightly different take to Alana’s post on Vice President Biden proselytizing a fourth-grade class on behalf of his administration’s most recent stimulus package.
A month ago I gave a talk to my son’s eighth-grade class; the topic was the Constitution. I spoke for 20 minutes or so and then we opened it up to question-and-answer, which lasted around an hour-and-a-half. As one might expect, there were lots of question about my years in the Bush White House, including the events surrounding 9/11. I was also asked several political questions, including my opinions of President Obama and some of his policies. I went out of my way to be apolitical, to the point of offering up some counter-arguments to views I happen to hold (most having to do with how we treat captured terrorists), in order to show students that one has to carefully weigh competing arguments before arriving at a conclusion.
Now I’m sure on a day-to-day basis I don’t do this as well as I should–but my purpose, in meeting with these young students, was to lay out how, in a more perfect world, we would hope to approach things. I also feel an instinctive aversion when it comes to using my position, as limited as it is, to influence the political views of eighth graders–in part out of respect for parents whose political views are different from my own.
My guess is that most people, put in the same position as I was, would approach things in basically the same way. There are unwritten protocols by which we should abide. And the fact that the vice president, whose office carries tremendous authority and influence, would make a rank, partisan appeal to elementary school students is troublesome. It’s not by any means the worst or most offensive thing this administration has done. But it does offer a small window into their hearts and minds–and how they seem unable to restrain themselves when it comes to separating different spheres of our lives.