President Obama gave a commencement speech to the graduates of Hampton College over the weekend. This historically black college was the setting for the President to berate the influence of technology in our lives. That is ironic, considering this president benefited mightily from online support and technology while he ran for the office of President. And, this administration enjoys touting available web sites to push their agenda.
This is the President that balked at the notion of giving up his personal Blackberry. This is the President who regularly addressed supporters online during the last campaign. This is the President who allowed - perhaps encouraged - his flacks to mock his opponent John McCain as they sought the presidency for his lack of computer skills. See, he's older and just not cool for Team Obama.
Perhaps Obama is now re-thinking the whole technology thing. A quote from his latest USA Today interview: "There are always costs in doing big things." That was his reaction to the fact that his agenda has produced "huge financial and political costs".
Perhaps the thin skinned president is not fully appreciative of the freedom that technology presents to Americans. He, ever the narcissist, is distressed over the instant quotes and stories that are produced on the Internet and on around the clock cable news and talk radio. He doesn't appreciate criticism. His administration even feels comfortable in shutting out the press - for example, trying to keep FOX News at arms length - and ducking out to catch his daughter's soccer game with the press pool reporter. The president hasn't held a press conference since last July. All of this from the guy who promised to have the most transparent administration ever.
Technology is freedom. Children in schools and readers in public libraries benefit from computer access. Moms on the go keep in touch with family members with cell phones. And, yes, a president is held more accountable if more questions are asked and investigated. Citizen journalists are not the enemy. He said, "Some of the craziest claims can quickly claim traction" in blogs and talk radio. He doesn't speak to the fact that often his spokespeople frequently characterize claims as false when the opposite is true. The recent battle over Obamacare is prime example. Much of the opposition's claims have been proven true though Team Obama would have you believe it is all crackpot hyperbole.
It is hard to believe a president so tech savvy would bemoan the gadgets in our lives.
And, why did the man who claimed to be the post-racial candidate use the word 'emancipation' in his commencement speech? Was it because it was a historically black college? He extolled the virtues of Dorothy Height and her refusal to be denied a college education. That was legitimate. He equated iPods and Xboxes with slavery. "...information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation."
Mr. President, information is power, not a distraction.