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May 2, 2008 11:59 AM   Subscribe

"Only Nixon could go to China," and only ex-Republican ex-Senator Lincoln Chafee can explain how George W. Bush set out "to preempt the Congress... on every issue", "turned his back on (his) bedrock campaign pledges", and become simultaneously America's most powerful and least popular President (and why there could never be a "surely this..." moment). NOT just another OMGBUSH commentary, this should be required reading for anybody who honestly wants to know what went wrong.
posted by wendell (46 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Few Americans paid close attention to this pre–September 11 struggle in Congress..."

There's pretty much every problem America has in a nutshell.
posted by you just lost the game at 12:13 PM on May 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


One side of me wanted to forget that I respected the office he held and talk to him as if we were a couple of blacksmiths with a bad bet to settle, but I checked my temper, shook his hand, thanked him for having me in, and walked out.

And there's the other problem. Sure, Cheney is a diabolical psychopath, but ... you gotta respect the office. It's very important. The world will collapse otherwise.
posted by blacklite at 12:22 PM on May 2, 2008 [9 favorites]


How hard was it for you not to end that post with "who honestly wants to know why it did not end well"?

Interesting article, but I don't buy his central argument; that tax cuts were the key moment when Bush became all powerful. Up until September 11, wasn't he a deeply unpopular President already? Wasn't he having trouble getting anything through congress? I remember there being talk of him being a one termer like his dad.

That said, it wasn't even September 11 that became the key moment for Bush to become supreme ruler. It changed things, but it was not the key moment in my opinion. After September 11, there was a lot of support for Bush to invade Afghanistan. The world supported him, his own country supported him and in the context of what had just happened it seemed to make sense. This was the prelude to what really neutered the Congress.

And then Bush decided to invade Iraq and Congress rolled over. That was the key moment. After that the US became involved in a war that Bush kept needing money for, and if Congress seemed to start getting uncomfortable with the demands for money Bush was able to pull the "unpatriotic in the face of terrorism" and "dosen't support the troops" cards. With the invasion of Iraq, the situation arose where even your most ardent liberal was forced to admit "the situation there sucks and the war in general is terrible but now we're there we need to stay until it's done." Bush had won the power to get a blank cheque whenever he needed it and was easily able to silence debate about him using jingoistic words that had been mutated far beyond their original meaning.

Tax cuts were the key moment and not Iraq? Give me a break.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:24 PM on May 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


So Chafee knew but didn't want to tell anyone until he'd lost his job anyway? Thanks, dirtbag.
posted by DU at 12:26 PM on May 2, 2008 [11 favorites]


I think you may have a confused definition of the phrase, "Only Nixon could go to China." Nixon was the most crusading anti-communist in the Senate in his day. He associated with McCarthy and Roy Cohen and pro(per)secuted Alger Hiss. To say only he could go to China is to say that only once the most radically right-wing elements had accepted the Maoists' victory could the US move on.

Lin Chafee on the other hand is farther left than many Democrats. For him to come out against Bush is not a surprize. If Karl Rove came out against Bush it would be more akin to Nixon going to China.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:27 PM on May 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


How hard was it for you not to end that post with "who honestly wants to know why it did not end well"?

It hasn't ended yet.
posted by wendell at 12:31 PM on May 2, 2008


IT'S ALL ROBIN'S FAULT, THE LITTLE BITCH.
posted by quonsar at 12:32 PM on May 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Tax cuts were the key moment and not Iraq? Give me a break.

Perhaps you missed the part where he outlined just why tax cuts set the tone?

Up until September 11, wasn't he a deeply unpopular President already? Wasn't he having trouble getting anything through congress?

Has anything Dubya said or done in his entire presidency given you any indication that he gives two shits about what anyone thinks about him?

He was an amiable front man for the looting of the Treasury. More than that: he wanted to be part of the heist. It didn't matter how unpopular he was: he had things to do and he was going to get them done. That's why the confrontational attitude on the tax cuts is so important. That's why it was manifestly important that Congress roll over for everything he does. That's why he had to come out swinging.

So Chafee knew but didn't want to tell anyone until he'd lost his job anyway?

Knew what, exactly? That Bush was an insecure power-mad dunce who was after certain things antithetical to Chafee? He figured that out very early on. The choice he made, I imagine, was whether to try and stay in office and see if he could be one of the extremely few moderating Republicans in this climate, or jeopardize everything by trying to "break with Bush." I'd like to know how easy it is for you to break with a lifetime of belief, because according to you, it's no problem to just jettison everything you knew to be true and accept that everything's going to shit. It must be working out well, right?
posted by solistrato at 12:34 PM on May 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Every bully and blowhard in the world sets the terms of intimidation right off the bat. The time to stand up is sooner instead of later. My older brother, Zech, taught me that important lesson by example when I was in the third grade at Potowomut Elementary School in Warwick, Rhode Island. In front of a cheering schoolyard, he put up his fists and boxed a bully out of a bad attitude.

Nice rhapsody, but Chafee had the chance to speak up when he was in Congress and said nothing.

Saying all of this in May 2008 is kind of like piling on a crowded bandwagon, given Mr. Bush's current poll numbers.
posted by blucevalo at 12:34 PM on May 2, 2008


I love how Congress wants to blame Bush for everything they voted on and passed. Bush & Co may be evil folk, but Congress didn't do much to shut them down, even before 9/11, and even after he proved to be a lying idiot who was dragging us into ruin.

"this should be required reading for anybody who honestly wants to know what went wrong"

What I'm taking away from it is that what went wrong was Congress being full of spineless, self-seving drones. Faced with someone he knew to be a power-mad clown, this was the best defense of our country he could manage. /golfclap
posted by Ragma at 12:36 PM on May 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


the meek shall inherit the earth. but only after the spineless, self-serving drones have thoroughly raped and pillaged it.
posted by quonsar at 12:41 PM on May 2, 2008 [7 favorites]


He's been saying stuff like this all along. He didn't vote for the tax cut, he didn't vote for the war. Hell, in 2004, he didn't vote for GWB for president. This isn't a new thing for Chafee.
posted by Ruki at 12:46 PM on May 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


A note or two:
Bush had a majority congress to support what he did with tax cuts...his cuts reflected Op conservative beliefs that helping the very wealthy would somehow help others. It makes little sense to pick on this or that one for not speaking up--many did but to no avail.

We invaded Afghanistan onloy after 9/11 and we demanded that the Taliban hand over Osama for trial and that the Taliban close down Al Qaeda training camps. Though Iraq was clearly a mistake--no true justification for an invasion--Afghanistan was clearly aligned with Osama and his plans to disrupt the West.
posted by Postroad at 12:49 PM on May 2, 2008


To say only he could go to China is to say that only once the most radically right-wing elements had accepted the Maoists' victory could the US move on.

Hmmm, that's not my understanding of the phrase. I though the point was that only an American leader with Nixon's anti-communist credentials could open a dialogue with China without appearing to be weak or appeasing.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:50 PM on May 2, 2008


solistrato wrote:

I'd like to know how easy it is for you to break with a lifetime of belief, because according to you, it's no problem to just jettison everything you knew to be true and accept that everything's going to shit.

This is why history recognizes men such as this as heroes and men like Chaffee to be cowards. He was quiet then he should be quiet now. Oh and Colin Powell should also shut the fuck up as well. The time to be a hero has passed so unless either of you have time machines please step back into history's closet and live with your legacy of disgrace.
posted by any major dude at 1:03 PM on May 2, 2008


Ragma wrote:

What I'm taking away from it is that what went wrong was Congress being full of spineless, self-seving drones.

This was the doing of Gingrich and Delay. They purposely backed hundreds of Congressmen who were merely empty headed suits to run for Congress with the full understanding that they were Stepford candidates that will do as they're told. These people probably still to this day receive daily faxes that tell them the talking points of the day.
posted by any major dude at 1:07 PM on May 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


Good post, wendell - thanks.
He has my respect. He stood for his principles when others - even Democrats - caved. After he lost the election in 2006, he even expressed some sentiment that the changeover in Congress might be better for the country. Too bad the spineless new congress hasn't lived up to the promise.

If there had just been a handful more people in his party with as much integrity as he had, we wouldn't be in such dire straits today. Back in Nixon's day, we had just enough statesmen who put country over party when push came to shove. I wonder if I will ever see that again in my lifetime.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:12 PM on May 2, 2008


...this should be required reading for anybody who honestly wants to know...

Can we have a moratorium on claiming your link to be sole source of truth and honesty and thereby insinuating that anyone not reading and agreeing is an ignorant tool? Or would that shut down the blue for good?
posted by dzot at 1:18 PM on May 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


The tax cuts may have "set the tone" but Effigy2000 is right. The political hardline that Cheney and The Decider were pushing would have ended in too much bad blood and too many Republican congressional losses had it not been for Iraq. Bush was well on his was to being an unpopular President before 9/11.

The one thing that is useful to learn about the tax cut issue is how it benefits the Republicans down the road. Gray Davis learned this the hard way in California. If you lower taxes temporarily, then your opponents will charge you with raising them when they go back up. It's stupid, but it works. Not enough people recall that they were "temporary reductions", especially if the timeline is more than a few months. It's one of the most successful tricks the Republicans have come up with.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 1:22 PM on May 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


The fear of bing known as a tax-raiser must be real for politicians. "He voted to raise your taxes" is a feature in the current TV ads of one right-winger's campaign against another right-winger.
posted by Cranberry at 1:26 PM on May 2, 2008


> The fear of being known as a tax-raiser must be real for politicians.

If only there were a way to simply and clearly counter the "HE'LL RAISE YOUR TAXES" scare tactic. If only most people were smart enough to realize that taxes pay for things they use every day, like roads and libraries and public schools and social services, and that they will fall apart or disappear if they aren't properly funded. If only people valued the health of their communities over a few extra bucks in their pockets to spend at Wal-Mart or McDonalds. If only there weren't so many loopholes for rich people and corporations to get out of paying their fair share of taxes, so that people farther down the economic ladder don't feel like suckers for paying their own. If only.
posted by you just lost the game at 1:47 PM on May 2, 2008 [9 favorites]


And there's the other problem. Sure, Cheney is a diabolical psychopath, but ... you gotta respect the office. It's very important. The world will collapse otherwise.

From the perspective of a non-American, it's really interesting to observe how much Americans respect the Presidency. "Since he's the President, I really want to see him succeed in his initiatives for the sake of the country" is a line I've heard before. In Canada, the prime minister is either grudgingly respected or hated outright.

Up until September 11, wasn't he a deeply unpopular President already? Wasn't he having trouble getting anything through congress?

Has anything Dubya said or done in his entire presidency given you any indication that he gives two shits about what anyone thinks about him?


Popularity is another word for political skill. You need political skill to move your legislative initiatives forward, so, yes, Bush would have to "give two shits about what anyone thinks about him."
posted by KokuRyu at 1:55 PM on May 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Several times, the president went out of his way to remind me that he was the commander in chief. You don't have to keep telling me that, I thought. I know who you are. Like others, I have been around people who are good at wielding power. They never have to tell you they are in charge. They just are, and you know it. What I saw and heard that day really unsettled me. I'm the commander in chief... I'm the president... I'm the commander in chief... It was unpresidential.

I find this to be a pretty apt description of how I envisioned Bush's personal interactions. That he needs to keep asserting his position so that no one will forget it; a person who isn't used to being in charge, and needs to perpetually establish his credentials so that he is taken seriously. It now makes perfect sense to me that he would have a moment where he publicly defined himself as "the Decider".

As the Senate's presiding officer, Vice President Cheney had an ornate office off the Senate floor. I was ushered in past the velvet ropes, took my seat, and soon realized that my opinions were not up for discussion. The vice president had called me in so he could explain why I had to vote for the $1.6 trillion as is, why not a word was subject to amendment. It was a top-down, one-way "exchange of ideas," so to speak.

Similarly, this sounds exactly like I pictured any kind of exchange with Cheney would be. From the velvet rope and ornate office, to the 20 minute lecture on why he was going to make my decision and I was going to abide by it.

The more insight I get into the way things work in this administration, the less I like them. And that's saying a lot, because I thought I reached the bottom of that barrel a long time ago.
posted by quin at 2:46 PM on May 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


I've never understood why people think Bush doesn't care about what people think about him. His record of getting and holding office, passing legislation, and confirming appointees suggests that he's quite focused on winning the approbation that matters. He doesn't have the willingness of several recent ex-Presidents to pretend to care about the opinion of people who staunchly dislike him, but what real difference does that make?

Bush's real problem is rather the opposite -- an over-reliance upon the fact that people do like and support him, which has led him to make some bad choices in terms of advice-taking. When momentarily persuaded that Ted Kennedy liked him he was able to become a believer in No Child Left Behind. There wasn't an earmark of a House Republican he'd dream of opposing. The advice he took on Iraq, versus the advice he didn't take -- some pretty bad choices there. Harriet Miers, forsooth!
posted by MattD at 2:48 PM on May 2, 2008


Not really related to the article, but, man, I wish we hadn't needed a democratic party majority in Congress two years ago. I really wanted to vote for Chafee. I sent him a letter of apology as I came back from the local polling station.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 2:51 PM on May 2, 2008


I am not one to comment usually on the bland topic of US politics, however as someone who lived in there for a long time from the transition from Reagan politics to Clinton politics, I mean, really, who can't feel the wool was pulled over their eyes?

Shit happens. Bad leaders are a dime a dozen and the flaws associated take years to figure out.

What really kills me is that a nation that recognizes its political system is critically flawed is reduced to Obama vs. Clinton talking points and the gung ho former POW touting independence from a party that he consistently embraces. For the rest of us in the world, signing "Bomb bomb bomb Iran" is a bit disingenuous.

As a direct result of GW Bush and his policies, the best all of us are stuck with is more of the same.

Once you set a pres-i-dent (pun intended) its tough to roll it back.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 2:53 PM on May 2, 2008


My visit with the new president did nothing to assuage my apprehensions. The man—and by that I mean the inner man, the essential man—seemed unequal to the awesome powers entrusted to him.

This is why I fear my President. And lately, a lot of insiders are confirming it.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 3:00 PM on May 2, 2008


The real fun is going to start when a Democratic President gets access to all those yummy expanded executive powers.

Of course, the fact that this won't go over with the Republicans makes me wonder what they know about the next election that the rest of us don't.
posted by troybob at 3:14 PM on May 2, 2008


The real fun is going to start when a Democratic President gets access to all those yummy expanded executive powers.

Wait. So a democrat will do worse things with them than a Republican? If you got out of Iraq tomorrow and instead funded every pet social project in the democrats bin-o-wants, you'd still have money left over.
posted by maxwelton at 3:33 PM on May 2, 2008


So a democrat will do worse things with them than a Republican?

Of course. The Democrats, if given power, will round up all of the Christians, which is to say Baptists, and put them all in camps where they'll be repeatedly impregnated by Wiccans and forced to undergo abortion after abortion just to make goo that Democrats want to feast on. Even the men, who will be surgically altered in accordance with the homosexual agenda.

Also, they will raise your taxes.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:45 PM on May 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


This is why history recognizes men such as this as heroes and men like Chaffee to be cowards. He was quiet then he should be quiet now.

You have no idea what you're talking about. He was not "quiet then." You have a lot of gall calling someone a coward when you knwo nothing about them.
posted by Snyder at 5:02 PM on May 2, 2008


Can we have a moratorium on claiming your link to be sole source of truth and honesty and thereby insinuating that anyone not reading and agreeing is an ignorant tool?

No, because those of us who only rarely make political posts would like to remind the assembled MetaMasses that we rarely make political posts, so this one is special.

The real fun is going to start when a Democratic President gets access to all those yummy expanded executive powers.

What worries me most is just what Bush Cheney & Company will do to prevent this Imperial Presidency from falling into the hands of someone "unworthy". To me, it's the only good explanation for former-torture-victim John McCain to flip-flop on torture. Not to placate the 'base', but to placate the Bosses. Not to mention some of Hillary Clinton's neo-con-ward turns...
posted by wendell at 5:09 PM on May 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bush's real problem is rather the opposite -- an over-reliance upon the fact that people do like and support him, which has led him to make some bad choices in terms of advice-taking. When momentarily persuaded that Ted Kennedy liked him he was able to become a believer in No Child Left Behind.

Yeah, when I think of the bad decisions this administration has made over the last eight years, Ted Kennedy and No Child Left Behind is the first thing that comes to mind.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 6:04 PM on May 2, 2008


Armitage, it may not be the first, but it sure should come in there in the top ten. NCLB is an absolute disaster. I mean, granted, the public school system wasn't really much to write home about before NCLB, but it's a serious cluster fuck now.

What it basically means is that unless you are privileged enough to go to a good private school, or you have the financial wherewithall to be homeschooled by an educated parent, you are not going to get an education.

It's creating a serf class that knows how to do little more than parrot back what they've been told. If America is going to succeed in the 21st century we need to be creating scientists and theoreticians and rhetoricians. We don't need any more people who can recognize which is the Big Mac button. We need people who can create things and systems and businesses that provide jobs and stability. If all we ever needed was drones, NCLB would be fine. But we don't. We need thinkers. And NCLB is designed to destroy those who would step outside the boundaries of acceptable oval filled responses.

So yeah, is Iraq an absolute disaster? God yes. I don't even know how to begin suggesting how to fix the mistakes there.

Afghanistan? Completely forgotten by everyone except the folks who get the flag draped coffins.

Tax cuts: Insanity. Absolute, bat shittery, bug fuckingly insane.

The list goes on...but destroying the future of 80% of American youth? I'm gonna have to rank that one as right up there in the "what the hell have you done, you damned dirty ape?" category.


As to the Imperial Presidency: There's not a chance in hell that they're going to let a Democrat have that power...even if it's a Pseudocrat like Hillary. They're sure as hell not going to let Obama near it. (Bless his heart, I just love him, but the Hillary would rather destroy the party than let him win...thereby handing the election to McCain.) I dunno how they're going to do it, but mark my words, it will be a long time before we ever see a real populist that gets near those powers.
posted by dejah420 at 11:03 PM on May 2, 2008


He was an amiable front man for the looting of the Treasury. More than that: he wanted to be part of the heist.

Ocean's Fourteen...
posted by five fresh fish at 11:31 PM on May 2, 2008


As to the Imperial Presidency: There's not a chance in hell that they're going to let a Democrat have that power.

Any Democrat with balls would take action to reverse a lot of what Bush has done to make the Presidency imperialist.

Or maybe that's just what Ron Paul would do.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:34 PM on May 2, 2008


Ah, a Ron Paul reference. The Internet has seemed somewhat empty since that died down.
posted by Sangermaine at 3:40 AM on May 3, 2008


@Dejah420:

I agree that NCLB is a pretty silly way to monitor the nation's schools, especially since the states get to define the proficiency of their students however they want to, but most of the rest of what you said is pretty overblown.

First of all, public schools and private schools seem to basically teach children equally well if you control for the socioeconomic status of the students, which I think you'll agree is out of the hands of the educator.

Here's a study: A New Look at Public and Private Schools: Student Background and Mathematics Achievement

And a CSM article about it.

Private schools are also staffed by teachers who are generally paid less and have less training that public school teachers. Many have to follow a teaching script that is much more soul-crushing than anything in public school. (I went to one of those schools... and was kicked out in a year) :-) Private schools can (and do) reject students, no matter how much money they have. We take everyone.

In my personal experience as a teacher who works in a very affluent area, the few students I do get who are from poor families are much more likely to perform poorly academically, with the notable exception of poor families who seek out a high-performing school and do whatever is necessary to get their kids in there. These families work constantly with their children and make school the highest priority, much like the wealthy parents.

Also, there is an area of our district that is much less well off than ours, and I know the teachers there. The schools are out of compliance with NCLB and are under sanctions, but those teachers are just as good as the ones at my school. I've been in their classrooms, I've watched them teach.

Another thing to consider is the polling that consistantly shows that people think their own public schools are pretty good, especially if they have kids there...70% of parents give the school of their oldest child an A or a B. The more distance between them and the school and the less they like it. 26% give the nation's schools an A or B.

Gallup poll: The Public's Attitude Toward the Public Schools

The only explanation for that discrepancy is that someone is telling them that the nations schools are failing, and they're believing it. They just don't believe it about their own child's school, because they've been there, they've met the teachers and been in the classroom.

In my classroom, I teach children to question every piece of information they see. My kids write books to put in our class library. We're raising ducks, frogs, fruit flies, and praying mantises to observe their life cycles. We baked a cake on Thursday to learn how to work with fractions. One of my students wrote a letter to Bush (on his own) to ask him why gas was heading to $4/gallon and whether he knew how much it was hurting poor people... we mailed it on the day that Bush claimed he didn't know that $4/gallon was approaching. My students enjoy school much of the time, but sometimes have to do boring stuff. That's how life is.

Really, if you really think that 80% of our children are destined to have their futures "destroyed" by the educational system, become a teacher yourself. Do something about it.
posted by Huck500 at 9:47 AM on May 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think Lewis Black said it best: "Congress? Congress?!?!?!? Congress doesn't do shit!"
posted by zzazazz at 2:51 PM on May 3, 2008


Huck, I did teach, albeit in the "delinquent division", which is to say at the juvenile detention center, while I was working on my masters. I taught briefly at a high school as a substitute, but actually preferred the kids at JDC, where, believe it or not, the culture was less "Lord of the Flies" than it was at the high school. Good lord, that place was scary. (And it was in one of the better areas of town.)

Perhaps my impression of the school system is unfair for the rest of the nation, because I live in one of the worst states for education. I think the 2007 report put Texas in the 37th spot, which is pathetic.

I'll give you an example (which granted, is anecdotal), my 5 year old is supposed to start school in the fall of 2008. He tested for the gifted and talented program. After his testing, the administrator called us and asked us to come back for a 2nd and 3rd round of testing. At the end of all of this testing, she said...and I'm quoting; "He's too smart. We can't offer him anything that will interest him." This was the top rated G&T academy in the district.

"He's too smart." Not, "our system is deficient". Not, "we're unprepared for intelligent kids". Basically, they didn't want him in the system because he would blow the curve, or he'd be so bored he'd end up burning the building down. (Well, he *is* my kid...these are things one has to consider.)

And I will grant that not *all* or even *many* private schools are better than public school. Note that I said *good* private schools. But good private schools, where the teachers are making salaries equal to what they could earn in the private sector in the fields of their choice, are out of the range of most middle class earners, much less the working class.

Again; anecdotally; around here, the only private schools within 30 minutes are all religious academies that are teaching the non-evolution, earth is 6000 years old nonsense. But then, that "theory" is being taught in the public schools as well, not as fact, but as "an alternative theory", instead of "this is bug fuck insane".

The good schools are about an hour away, and cost $20,000 to $40,000 a year. Well out of reach of everyone but the top 1% earners. Hence our decision to homeschool Boy. Because there is no other acceptable alternative, short of moving to a state where education is a priority.

I have seen the impact of NCLB in Texas. 5 of my neighbors are either teachers or school administrators. All of them, plus all of their friends with whom I've spoken, have called it an unmitigated disaster for teachers in our state. All of them. They've all thrown real curriculum out the window and only "teach to the test". Also, standards have been considerably reduced, so that "meeting goals" is achievable without actually improving the quality of education at all. As long as the states (which constitutionally have the right) are the ones who set the standards, and it's not a federal standard, the entire system is nothing but a big game.

I can't tell you how many kids I've either taught at JDC, or tutored privately who have made it to high school with a smaller vocabulary than my 5 year old, and can barely read better than he does. Algebra? A subject which should be taught by the 3rd grade, is beyond most high school graduates. It's barely covered in the Texas NCLB test. Forget calculus, or physics, or grammatical structure comprehension. I've not met a kid in years that could diagram a sentence.

There's no science at all in the NCLB tests in ANY state.

I will qualify my assertion by adding "In Texas" to the statement; but I stand by my assertion that NCLB serves no purpose other than to create a drone class with a high proficiency in parroting information, but with limited comprehension or investigative skills. I think it is one of the greatest failings of the Bush administration.
posted by dejah420 at 3:14 PM on May 3, 2008


To me, "Only Nixon could go to China" connotes something like "Birds of a feather flock together."
posted by wobh at 4:15 PM on May 3, 2008


Because there is no other acceptable alternative, short of moving to a state country where education is a priority.

There are only a few ways to make one's living in this world: work the body or work the mind. There are five billion desperate bodies competing for the physical labour. Thus the next generation of our (=first world) children is going to have to compete on the basis of smarts.

It seems unlikely they're going to learn those smarts at the modern public school. Not without a lot of smart parenting, at any rate.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:45 PM on May 3, 2008


From the general tone of the responses here, I can only say that we will have to hope and pray that our kids or their kids will get to be smart enough to see through the fog. I don't know how this will happen, but anyone here who cares about a future that doesn't look just like the past has to be willing to do something about it, and it has to start with the kids. Because us grownups who think we know it all, don't.
posted by donfactor at 7:00 PM on May 3, 2008


@dejah420

I know a couple of teachers who tell me that the "alternative education" program (meaning the kids who don't fit in) is the way to go... and I'm glad to hear that you have some experience as a teacher. I actually had a horrible experience in high school, and from my point of view as a k-6 teacher there's a big difference between elementary and high school. It seems like the teachers in high school who read the newspaper and tell their students to read pages 200-215 in the textbook are still there, and I don't know anyone like that in elementary school.

Since NCLB started in TX, I guess what you and your friends are experiencing is what the rest of us should expect in the near future. I've figured out (as a joke... sort of) that I need to retire in about 10 years, because that's when my school will fall out of compliance with NCLB... even though almost all of our students test at the proficient level. Expecting 100% of our kids to be proficient in exactly the same skills is obviously ridiculous for anyone who has experience with kids, who have vastly different abilities, just like adults. I can honestly say that the the 200 or so kids I've taught over the years were all good at something, but not necessarily at filling in the bubbles.

Homeschooling is a good alternative, for those who can work it out. I have a relative who home schools, and her 10 year old can't read... because mom has decided that she shouldn't teach anything that the child hasn't expressed an interest in learning. I worry about her.

I absolutely agree with you about NCLB.
posted by Huck500 at 9:59 PM on May 3, 2008


Up in my neck of the woods we're finally getting back to having technical schools, trade schools, the like. Apparently the idea now is to let kids start getting a taste for different employment options early; one of the schools even offers a fireman training course.

Eliminating the trade schools and taking on an "everyone should go to university" attitude was one of the biggest educational failures of the past thirty years. Not everyone needs to or even should go to university: we need trades workers just as much as we need scientists.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:25 AM on May 4, 2008


FFF, I absolutely agree! Good mechanics and plumbers and general contractors are worth their weight in gold.
posted by dejah420 at 12:52 PM on May 4, 2008


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