Obama in the Classroom

by John J. Pitney, Jr.

The text of the president’s speech to schoolchildren is largely inoffensive. But it contains at least one political gaffe. If you quit school, he tells the kids, “You’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.” Among Americans between ages 65 and 74, 20.7 percent quit before finishing high school. For those 75 and older, the figure is 27.4 percent. The latter group includes some who quit in order to enlist in the armed forces after Pearl Harbor. And yet the president seems to be calling them unpatriotic.

— John J. Pitney Jr. is the Roy P. Crocker professor of government at Claremont McKenna College. With James Ceaser and Andrew Busch, he is co-author of Epic Journey: The 2008 Elections and American Politics.