White House Blows a Great Opportunity and Makes a Busload of Schoolchildren Cry
posted at 11:17 am on May 22, 2009 by Jimmie Bise, Jr
I really wish I was making up that post title, but I’m not. That’s exactly what happened this morning.
Thursday was supposed to be the highlight of the year for more than 100 kindergarteners from Stafford County, Va. They got up early and took a chartered bus to the White House for a school field trip. But when they arrived, all the 5-year-olds got was a lesson in disappointment.
The buses from Conway Elementary arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue a little later than planned, and they were locked out.
“We were going to the White House, but we couldn’t get in so I felt sad,” 5-year-old Cameron Stine said.
Parents say they were just 10 minutes late for their scheduled tour. School officials say White House staff said they needed to get ready for the president’s event with the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, so they couldn’t come in.
“I was angry cause they were disappointed,” parent and chaperone Paty Stine said.
The White House explained itself thusly: “A spokesperson said the group was actually supposed to be there at 9:30, but they held the gates for the group until 10:30, 15 minutes longer than they told the group, but when they still hadn’t arrived, they had to draw the line.”
That has to be the worst explanation I’ve ever seen. Heck, it’s not so much an explanation as a pushback. It would have been an easy matter for the spokesman to say that there had been some confusion between the staff and the school about the time of the tour and, due to the tour’s late arrival due to unforseen circumstances, the tour had to be cancelled because of another prearranged event.
What you would never want to do in that situation is call the parents and chaperones a bunch of liars, but that’s exactly what the White House did. This admininstration has the inerring instinct for treating the average American like a mud-pounding peasant and it only gets worse if that hapless American should do anything to make the President look like anything but the glittering paragon of Presidential studliness we’re told he is. This time, though, it could blow up in the President’s face. As Moe Lane points out, no politician will ever win an argument against a bus load of crying schoolchildren.
Moe also has some suggestions for how the President should take charge of this and make it right. I couldn’t agree with him more. I’m a football fan, but there’s no way in the world that a bunch of millionaires who could have been feted anytime in the past four months couldn’t have been pushed back an hour. What, they’re going to gripe that they had to give way to a bunch of kids? I bet if the White House had asked them, they would have been more than happy to shake a few little kids’ hands while they were there, don’t you?
Better yet, why not make a great photo op out of it? The President actually put the Steelers to work filling care packages for our soldiers in Afghanistan and that other place he barely recognizes exists these days. How much do you want to bet that some of those little kids have parents who are over there right now? The White House missed a golden opportunity for the kind of press that doesn’t come around every day. Imagine the videos on the cable news channels tonight — the Friday of Memorial Day weekend for goodness sake! — of the president surrounded by the Super Bowl Champions and a bunch of smiling happy schoolchildren waving American flags over the care packages they helped put together for their mommies and daddies oveseas?
But no. The kids went home crying and the White House couldn’t do any more than issue a haughty statement attacking their school.
I can’t help but wonder what the heck Rahm Emanuel was doing this morning while his staff was turning away a kindergarten class and calling their parents and teachers a bunch of liars. A competent Chief of Staff would have been able to fix things to everyone’s satisfaction. As I’ve pointed out before, though, Emanuel has been letting the President down very badly.
Oh, and as an obligatory note about media bias, let me all that had happened a year ago, you know the all-day topic on CNN and MS-NBC would be “The President Who Made Children Cry”. My guess is that you won’t hear much about this story outside of the local DC media outlets or a few blogs.
(cross-posted at The Sundries Shack)