At the height of the Great Depression, little Shirley Temple sang, danced, and to some degree acted her way into American hearts. From 1935 to 1938, this curly topped kid held court in Hollywood as its biggest box office draw.
Movie studio moguls learned early what sells in America. We all have a soft spot for children and animals. Throw a cute kid or an adorable puppy in a scene, and you’ve pretty much made the sale before you even say a word.
In rolling out his recommendations for new gun control legislation, President Obama fell back to this tried and true formula by featuring four adorable children on the stage behind him. Each of these kids evidently wrote thoughtful letters to the president about guns and school safety.
I admire that these children took the initiative to do this, although judging from my own experience with schools these days, it’s pretty rare that kids come up with these ideas on their own.
We are all horrified by what happened at Newtown. Clearly, the issue of gun violence in this country (all violence for that matter) is something that deserves careful study and thoughtful debate. It’s also a very grown up issue. Even though children were the main victims of Newtown, this doesn’t mean that kids are the most qualified or capable to address the issue or solve the problem. If that’s the case then perhaps we should enlist their help in curbing the very serious problems of child abuse and child pornography, too. Obviously, we won’t nor should we do that.
Given that it’s not prudent to think that kids will solve these problems, we can only assume that for today’s purposes these four children were used as props by the president in the best tradition of Hollywood’s Golden Years.
No wonder more and more Americans are becoming so cynical about politics and our elected officials.
Giving the president the benefit of the doubt, however, let’s pretend for a moment that President Obama was being entirely sincere in his presentation and that he truly feels that his obligation to children is as strong as what he stated numerous times today.
If that’s the case, I have an idea.
Schoolchildren across America should write the president a letter asking him to quit borrowing money that they will have to pay back when they grow up. Surely he’ll be so moved by their passionate pleas to end the bankruptcy of America and destruction of their young lives before they’ve really begun that he’ll invite these kids to the White House and stand before them as he explains how and why he’s going to seriously balance the budget and begin taking the steps necessary to promote economic growth.
It certainly is worth a try. Clearly, he’d like us to think he has a soft spot for kids. Perhaps they can convince him to do the right thing where others have failed.