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Ed Morrissey Defends Michelle Obama and Daughters Against Unfair Pedestrian Attacks

Earlier, I reported on right-wing blogger Jim Hoft‘s attack on Michelle Obama‘s dress, and the hypocritical conservative media culture that enables him. On the other side of the ledger, there’s the exceedingly decent Ed Morrissey, who today defends the First Lady against the Drudge-promoted, Hoft-repeated charge that she’s responsible for an uptick in pedestrian fatalities, and calls out The Daily Caller for implying that the Obama daughters are somehow to blame for another pedestrian danger, the de-icing disparity between their private school and the public school across the street.

The logic behind the first charge is twisted on its face. The general idea is that the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign has resulted in more people walking around, and thus, more people getting hit by cars. That’s a bit like saying that fertility treatments are responsible for higher murder rates. More people=more people to murder. Simple.

Beyond that, though, Ed points out (via OTB’s James Joyner) that the uptick in question was 0.4%, or seven additional fatalities.

He also takes on a Daily Caller headline that says “Ice cleared from outside Obama daughters’ school, but not from public school across the street:”

…the Daily Caller reports that an ice storm in DC left sidewalks very dangerous for pedestrians this week, with a few exceptions, one of those being the sidewalks in front of the prestigious private school Sidwell Friends.  Their headline sets up an implication that the difference between Sidwell’s sidewalks and those of the public school across the street have something to do with the fact that the Obamas send their daughters to Sidwell

Ed points out that the discrepancy has nothing to do with the Obama daughters, and everything to do with the inherent differences between public schools, and well-heeled private ones.

We part ways, somewhat, in the solution to the problem:

Sidwell’s sidewalks got cleared because the responsibility for doing so rested with Sidwell alone, and so they acted.  That’s the reason why people with the means to do so send their children to private schools — because of the accountability and performance.  The Obamas send their daughters there because Sidwell takes care of its business; Sidwell didn’t take care of its business just because the Obamas send their daughters to the school.  If Sidwell was less competent in that regard, parents would enroll their children elsewhere.  In fact, the Sidwell lesson for today is how the private sector responds better to the needs of their consumers regardless of how influential those customers are — and emphasizes the need for more choice in primary education.

If Ed can figure out a way to guarantee every child a free, Sidwell-quality private education, and to pay for it, where do I sign? Until then, though, reforming public education is the best way to uphold the American ideal of equality, not subsidizing upper-middle-class flight to private schools at the expense of those who can’t afford it.

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