May 17, 2011 10:07AM

Yes He Can…Use School Kids as Campaign Props

Two years ago, when there was major controversy over President Obama’s first national address to America’s school children, it was clear that the televised spectacle was about more than just telling kids to work hard and stay in school. It was about President Obama, his inspirational personal story, and displaying just how much he cares about education. It was, in other words, free campaigning with our children as props.

At the time, unfortunately, people who dared to suggest this were roundly accused of hating President Obama, or the presidency, or just being cracked. Well, in the President’s most recent education photo‐​op — his second annual address to the winners of the administration’s “Race to the Top Commencement Challenge” — Mr. Obama blatantly infused campaigning into commencement, using several variants of his “Yes we can” campaign slogan while talking up the challenges he had to overcome in his life. And doing that got him just what he’d want from a campaigning perspective, at least from NBC News: A nice, long clip of his talk showing him, presumably, inspiring the kids, and hopefully the voters. Oh, and that far fewer schools than the administration had hoped for competed to get the President to their graduation? Well, there’s no mention of that.