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No Obama, no Bush, no fun in Texas

September 20, 2009|Andrew Malcolm and Kate Linthicum

A recent string of decisions made by officials at the Arlington Independent School District in Texas has ensured that there will be no politics in the classroom there. And, apparently, there will be no fun, either.

It all began when district Supt. Jerry McCullough denied students a chance to watch President Obama's speech to the nation's schoolchildren about the importance of education. McCullough banned the address because, he said, it might interfere with lesson plans and cause a distraction.

But then word leaked that McCullough had approved a field trip for 600 fifth-graders to the Cowboys Stadium for a Super Bowl XLV kickoff event. Among the speakers scheduled for the event: President George W. Bush.

Some parents complained. And the local and national media pounced. The superintendent, they charged, was clearly partisan.

So McCullough canceled the Bush event, too.

In a statement released Monday, McCullough said the decision was made "in order to maintain our focus on instruction."

But the students got the worst of it. They missed out on a political education -- and a field trip.


Canada gets a warm welcome

With two wars already underway, it was unlikely that President Obama was going to announce any military action against Canada. The countries haven't fought since the Civil War, when the British allowed Confederate guerrilla raids into New England.

And sure enough the 44th president kept the peace.

The chief executive on Wednesday granted Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper a coveted media availability in the Oval Office, a privilege recently not granted to someone as lowly as Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

They talked like neighbors (or neighbours). And for good reason. Although Harper is conservative (by Canadian standards), the two nations maintain by far the largest bilateral economic relationship in the world. You don't hear much talk about building a wall along the U.S.-Canadian border, at least on the U.S. side.

And Canada has been a staunch military ally since Sept. 11, with its troops actually fighting in Afghanistan, as opposed to maintaining bases like some NATO allies. In fact, on a per capita basis, Canada has suffered more casualties there than the U.S.

While Canada's domestically controversial combat commitment there will wind down in the next two years, Obama is pondering another U.S. troop "surge" that polls warn could create some real trouble for him back home.

The U.S. is by far Canada's largest customer, and Canada is by far the Americans' largest supplier of energy. You won't be surprised they had an "excellent conversation" about the "extraordinary friendship and bond" of the two peoples. Obama said they even talked about climate change, or global warming, which could eventually keep millions of Canadians from migrating to Florida and Arizona with the birds every winter.

Speaking in French, not because that's his native tongue but he wants to get on the TV news back in Quebec, Harper reciprocated the bonhomie; said an economic recovery has begun, though still pretty fragile; praised the president's speech to Wall Street (its Canadian equivalent in Toronto is called Bay Street); and vowed to continue addressing the ever-present series of trade "irritants" that crop up between the two former British colonies.


Obama loves that Keystone State

Boy, for someone who once thought Pennsylvania was full of rural, gun-toting religion-clingers, President Obama sure has come to love the place.

He sent Vice President Joe Biden to Pittsburgh for a wild Labor Day. He arranged for the G-20 summit of global finance ministers and central bank presidents to meet there later this month.

And Tuesday, so he wouldn't annoy Eagles or Steelers fans, Obama was campaigning on both sides of the state.

On Tuesday, he appeared at a Philadelphia fundraiser for one-time Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, who'd like a sixth term, this one as a new Democrat, while Democrat Rep. Joe Sestak would like a first Senate term. Big primary fight to watch in coming months.

But the stubborn Sestak aside, Obama now loves pretty much everyone in the Keystone state, so named because crossing Pennsylvania was the key to getting to Ohio in the olde days.


Top of the Ticket, The Times' blog on national politics ( "> ), is a blend of commentary, analysis and news. These are selections from the last week.

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