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May 04, 2010 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2010-05-04

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
he Midiigan OaUhj

Critiquing Obama's speech

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109




Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely theviews of their authors.
Brb g drive
Granholm approves ban on texting while driving
The state is saying "ttyl" to texting while driving. A day before
Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm spoke to a crowd of Uni-
versity graduates in the Big House, she appeared on "The Oprah
Winfrey Show" to sign the ban into law. The new legislation will make
the act a primary offense, slapping hundred-dollar fines -on violators.
While action must be taken to curb distracted driving, the state must
ensure that the law is implemented and enforced fairly, with proper

As the vigorous applause finally
began to subside in the wake of Presi-
dent Barack Obama taking the stage
Saturday at spring commencement, a
lone "I love you!" rang out amidst the
crowd. The president didn't hesitate.
He responded with an eager, "I love
you back." Such is the relationship
between Obama and the class of 2010.
After all, we certainly showed
Obama our love during the '08 cam-
paign, when University students
pulled out all the stops to make sure
he was elected. Students' relentless
campaigning, voter-registering and
city-wide canvassing on behalf of
Obama was the reality of life in Ann
Arbor last year. It was gratifying,
then, to see Obama acknowledge the
support this campus showed him by
attending our graduation ceremony
- even for those like me who usually
don't love the president back.
Besides, I was relieved that Demo-
cratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm (who
was clearly sucking up to Obama in
hopes of landing a Supreme Court
appointment) had finished her incred-
ibly awkward on-behalf-of-Michigan-
thanks-for-all-the-bailouts speech,
which was neither appropriate nor
particularly accurate.
So when the president stepped
up to speak and my fellow gradu-
ates burst into cheers, I applauded
as well. There'sno denying it at the
University, Obama is a popular man.
But if Obama's presence at spring
commencement was a testament to
his popularity on college campuses,
his speech addressed the reality that
elsewhere, people aren't as pleased
with him. Speaking more to his oppo-
nents across the nation rather than
those present in the Big House, the
president recognized the merits of
informed disagreement while criti-
cizing the lack of civility in current
political debate.
He blamed politicians and pundits
for driving the argument to the left
and right fringes, reserving particu-
larly harsh words for a media that
"tends to play up every hint of con-
flict, because it makes for a sexier
story, which means anyone interested
in getting coverage feels compelled to
make their arguments as outrageous
and as incendiary as possible." That's
right, the president used the word

"sexier" in the Big House.
Obama said that he sympathizes
with people's frustration and the
effect it has been having on politi-
cal discourse. But he called upon all
factions of American society to listen
to each other in hopes of moving for-
ward and making compromises that
will improve both the government
and the country. Such sentiments are
certainly noble, and they were deliv-
ered with the eloquence of a presi-
dent who gives terrific speeches, no
matter what you may think of his
But Obama's speech also revealed
that there's something he doesn't
fully understand - the sincerity of
his opponents. While University
graduates nod along to his words and
wonder why those awful Tea Party
protesters and their ilk just won't
listen to reason, there are millions of
people who think that the president
is the one who isn't listening. As evi-
dence, they point to the passage of
a health care bill that Obamavehe-
mently backed - a bill completely
despised by about half the country,
according to several opinion polls.
Many U.S. taxpayers and business
owners worry that Obama's agenda
will make them less prosperous,
reduce their freedoms and leave
their children with an overwhelming
national debt. In their view, Obama is
the one who won't compromise, and
that's at least part of the reason why
the debate seems less civil.
. Still, the president was right to
maintain a historical perspective and
recognize that political debate in the
U.S. has often been less than civil. As
he noted (as did Alex Marsten in his
terrifically clever and heartfelt stu-
dent address), it is up to us, college
graduates entering a world of pas-
sionate opinions, to add something
intelligent and constructive to the
Thanks for sending us off into
the professional world with your
eloquent advice, Mr. President. But
don't pick Granholm for the Supreme
Court, no matter how badly she
wants it.
Robert Soave was the Daily's
editorial page editor in 2009. He can
he reached at rsoave@amich.eds.


safeguards against abus
In January, the State Sen-
ate passed a bill deeming tex-
ting while driving a secondary
offense. This meant that a driver
could not be pulled over solely
for texting while driving but
could be charged additional fees
for texting if he or she is pulled
over for another reason. The
legislation recently approved by
Granholm declared the action a
primary offense, meaning that
police officers will be able to
pull over a driver exclusively
for texting and driving. While
no points would be added to the
violator's driving record, he or
she would be charged a $100 fine
for the first offense and $200 for
subsequent ones, according to
The Associated Press.
There's no doubt that texting
- and other distracting activi-
ties like talking on a cell phone
- while driving is extremely
dangerous. The National High-
way Traffic Safety Administra-
tion reported that, in 2008, 5,870
people died and nearly half a
million people were injured as a

result of accidents involving dis-
tracted drivers. Texting while
driving is a growing problem
and a danger for all drivers, not
just those who text. It is without
question that some sort of legis-
lation was necessary to make the
state's roads safer.
But Michigan isn't the only
state to recognize the dangers of
texting while driving. Accord-
ing to the Governors Highway
Safety Association, there are
24 states that currently ban the
practice. There is a growing
realization among state govern-
ments of the need to take action
themselves to deter distract-
ed driving, as allowing local
authorities to make the deci-
sion has produced a haphazard
patchwork of different laws gov-
erning each separate communi-
ty. It's about time that Michigan
joined these other states in a
concerted effort to combat and
reduce the dangers of texting
while driving.
While maintaining the vio-
lation as a secondary offense

would have prevented many
potential problems with the new
law, it is now the responsibility
of police officers to implement
and enforce the new regulations
appropriately. It is inherently
difficult to determine whether
someone is texting while driv-
ing or using a cell phone in a
legal manner, such as dialing
a phone number. Proper safe-
guards must be implemented
to ensure that law enforcement
officials do not use the presence
of a cell phone outside of the
driver's pocket as a presumption
of guilt. Police officers enforcing
this new law must remember
that its intent is to keep roads
safe, not make a suspect of any-
one on the road carrying a cell
Texting while driving not
only endangers the offender -
it creates a hazard for everyone
on the road. But this legislation
will only serve its goal properly
if it is enforced in a way that
doesn't presume all drivers to be
potential violators.

The Milan police pulling over a
drunk, bikini-clad, Jell-O-cov-
ered woman with a .147 BAC,
according to AnnArbor.com.

Milan's Dino's Dugout los-
ing the driver, Jennifer Lynn
McComas, a contender in its
Jell-O wrestling competition.

Nicholas Clift, Emma Jeszke, Laura Veith,
Joe Stapleton, Rachel Van Gilder

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