If you want a taste of what Barack Obama is up against in the ferocity and the bovinity, if such a word exists, of right-wing Americans, scour around the place for some of the reaction to the President’s plans to make a speech in a school in Houston, Texas, on Tuesday.
Parents are threatening to take their children out of school for fear of having them indoctrinated by the Great ‘socialist’ Communicator. Others have said he is trying to create a cult of personality on the lines of Kim Il Sung and Saddam Hussein. It would be funny is this was not so sad. It is not as if the children will not already be aware of him, what he says, what he stands for.
Now the White House are on the defensive, saying that the speech is about the importance of working hard and staying on at school, devoid of anything approaching a party political message, as if it was ever going to be anything else.
But what does it say about America that it is possible (with the help of their over-important right wing shock jocks) to generate such a controversy over what ought to be a memorable, fantastic event for any school, and any group of schoolchildren – almost regardless of what he says?
And it must say something good about Britain that in the 2001 election, we were actually able to do the manifesto launch in a school? That event became memorable not for the fact of doing it in a school, to an audience who did not have the vote, but the fact TB was speaking from a pulpit with a picture of Jesus on the cross in the background. My God, can you imagine what these mad right-wingers in America would have done to Obama had he done that? Crucified him.
The more I see of the reaction to Obama, the more power I wish to his elbow in putting through his reform programme.