May 22, 2009

Dear Dr. President

Picture Stolen from the Associated Press

You may have heard that President Obama was invited to give the commencement address at Notre Dame, and also to receive an honourary degree. Some felt that his pro-choice voting record was in such stark violation of the Catholic Character that he should not be invited to speak at the school, and should certainly not receive a degree.

This reminded me of President Bush's speech at Notre Dame. His action's were serious violations of the Vatican's anti-death penalty and anti-war stances. So why were pictures of slain Iraqi civilians or electrocuted Texans not flown overhead in the run up to his speech? Are we allowed to cherry-pick our favourite morality issues? Is is because President Obama is a democrat? Is it, dare I suggest, a race issue? Nope. It's remarkably something even more pathetic. It turns out that the big ring leader in the recent protests was none other than Alan Keyes, famed for losing the senatorial race to President Obama back in 2004. So, congratulations to my fellow Notre Dame students. You allowed yourself to be pawns in what can be boiled down to "Mommy, Obama took my seat and he won't give it back!"

I missed the chance to meet President Obama. The reason I missed my graduation ceremony is that I had promised to go see my fiancé's graduation prior to the date and commencement speaker being announced. I had at that point already moved away from South Bend, and I had no intention of returning to Notre Dame for reasons I will not go into here. I just wanted to make it clear that my absence was not some act of one-issue-fanatical boycotting, like this idiot. In fact, missing the chance to be in the same room as a man that I both love and admire will go down as one my biggest regrets in life. Hopefully, I will get my US citizenship in time to vote for his second presidential term, which would be some small consolation to me.

I did, however, learn something interesting at my fiancé's graduation ceremony at the University of Arkansas Medical School. The awarding of degrees occurs in ascending order of importance. The first diplomas are handed out to certificate earners, then to the associate degree candidates and so on. What was of interest to me is that the very last, and therefore most esteemed, group to collect their diplomas are the PhD candidates. Even the dentists, pharmacologists and medical doctors are lower down the list. To really drive home the point that the PhD is the apex of academia, the PhD candidates are the only ones to be hooded on stage.

I am making this point because of my issue with the Associate Press's arbitrary title usage decisions. Yes, I am still on that! It really struck me when I was watching a broadcast of a certain right-leaning 24-hour news station* recently. In the piece, they referred to President Obama as either "Mr. Obama" or "the President", but were careful to avoid using the phrase "President Obama". I am not, by even the loosest definition, a regular viewer of this channel, though I do have specific memories of President Bush being referred to as "President Bush" during his term. I wondered if this was a mistake, or if it were a more sinister effort on the part of the news channel to refuse to identify "Mr. Obama" as the president. My mind wandered further, and it occurred to me that President Obama taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago once upon a time, and was therefore likely to hold a professional doctorate. One trip to Wikipedia later, and yup, he does. So, if the journalists at this news station refuse to refer to him as "President Obama", should they not at least be calling him "Dr. Obama"?

* I can't find the piece in question, so the news channel will remain nameless.

1 comment:

Carly said...

I was listening to coverage of the ND commencement on NPR and they referred to him as Mr. Obama as well. I find that very odd. Not quite as suspicious as yours, though!

20 years from now, those students are going to wake up and realize they should have went to graduation. And I wonder if some parents said "I spent $160,000 on your education, you *are* going to graduation!

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