What Happened to the Hard Lessons of Vegas?

President Obama’s Back to School remarks—to be delivered tomorrow in Arlington, Virgina and broadcast to students across the county—are now available online.

There’s something that jumped out at me, something that appears to be the administration making a mistake it’s already made once before—the president mentions a specific product in a somewhat negative way while giving an example.

From tomorrow’s Back to School address:

Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.

I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.

I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.

While it’s true that kids would likely be better off if they don’t “spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox,” I was a little surprised to see the Xbox mentioned by name. Later in the article, the president mentions other products, all in a positive light—this makes sense to me; I can understand the benefits of using real examples that people can relate to. But using the Xbox the way he did, rather than simply saying “video game system,” reminds me of something President Obama took some heat for earlier this year, after answering a question at a townhall.

From an Indiana town hall in February:

“We’re going to do something to strengthen the banking system. You are not going to be able to give out these big bonuses until you pay taxpayers back. You can’t get corporate jets. You can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers’ dime. There’s got to be some accountability and some responsibility.”

Using Las Vegas as an example in this situation did not please the mayor of Las Vegas. The story got quite a bit of media attention back in February.

I don’t know if we can expect outrage from Bill Gates or Xboxers tomorrow because Microsoft’s game system is the one the president chose to name, but I can’t help but wonder why the president and his speechwriters didn’t use a generic term after what happened with Vegas. If this changes by the time the speech is delivered, I’m just going to assume the president reads my blog—stay tuned.


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