It has been a constant refrain from the president’s supporters that Barack Obama has been subject to levels of criticism that no other president has had to confront. To that end, we refer you to Daily Beast columnist Michael Tomasky, a usually sensible, middle of the road liberal as it happens, who opined late last year: “To people on the left, Bush was embarrassing. To people on the right, though, Obama is a menace. They are different—and yes, the latter is worse than the former.”
This is laughable, but on a more serious note, we sincerely hope -Tomasky has made a full recovery from that Rip Van Winkle episode he must have suffered from during the George W. Bush years.
Case in point: Last week, a sixth-grade public school teacher in Washington, D.C., sent home this homework assignment:
Directions: Now that we have read about two men of power who abused their power in various ways, we will compare and contrast them and their actions. Please refer to your texts, “Fighting Hitler—A Holocaust Story” and “Bush: Iraq War Justified Despite No WMD” to compare and contrast former President George W. Bush and Hitler. We will use this in class tomorrow for an activity!
Just in case the comparison wasn’t explicit enough, below the instructions there was a Venn diagram, two overlapping circles, one labeled George W. Bush and the other Hitler. Well, we suppose it’s true that both men were teetotalers and amateur painters, but that’s obviously not the comparison the teacher had in mind.
It’s fair to say that both Obama and Bush have received their share of over-the-top, paranoid criticism. For better and for worse, that comes with the job. But you could also assess that criticism in relation to the astounding levels of unwarranted veneration that Obama has received. To cite one relevant example, Obama has at least 14 public schools already named after him to George W. Bush’s 1. Nor were Bush’s supporters as delusional in their defenses of him. And we’re frankly tired of playing the “If this happened under Bush” game, but the smart money says that now that the teacher and school system have apologized, there will be nothing more heard of this incident. There’s almost no scenario we can conceive of in which a teacher who compared Obama to Hitler this explicitly wouldn’t be sent packing.
We don’t think engaging controversial topical politics is generally a wise strategy for teaching sixth-graders, but we’ll note that a far more interesting comparison would be Bush and Obama. Listing the ways in which Obama decried Bush’s supposed abuses of power, assumed office, and promptly exceeded any of Bush’s supposed abuses of executive authority would be a worthy assignment.
Postscript: The Scrapbook is heartened that the assignment came to light because a parent blew the whistle—even in liberal Washington!