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So Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent out a memo to his employees — and by definition our employees — last week, encouraging them all to go to that big rally they held last weekend in Washington, DC. No, not that big rally. The other one. From the Washington Examiner:
President Obama’s top education official urged government employees to attend a rally that the Rev. Al Sharpton organized to counter a larger conservative event on the Mall.”ED staff are invited to join Secretary Arne Duncan, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and other leaders on Saturday, Aug. 28, for the ‘Reclaim the Dream’ rally and march,” began an internal e-mail sent to more than 4,000 employees of the Department of Education on Wednesday.
It wasn’t exactly a happy, non-partisan celebration:
“[Conservatives] think we showed up [to vote for Barack Obama] in 2008 and that we won’t show up again. But we know how to sucker-punch, and we’re coming out again in 2010,” Sharpton said.
Speakers at the Sharpton rally praised Obama and took jabs at the Tea Party.
“Dr. King gave us a miracle in 2008. He gave us the first African-American president, and we must let them know today that we support [Obama],” said John Boyd, Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association.
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said Beck’s rally “would change nothing. … We will move right over you.”
Education Department spokeswoman Sandra Abrevaya defended Duncan’s decision. “This was a back-to-school event,” she said.
Back to school, indeed. But imagine if this had happened during in the Bush years. Imagine if a sitting cabinet secretary had written a memo to employees reminding them about a political event — maybe, and I’m just fantasizing here, a Thank You, Vice President Dick Cheney rally on the Mall.
It would have been a six-act, tear-stained, wailing finish melodrama, with lots of talk of “concern” and “chilling effects” and “coercion” from all of the usual suspects.