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On the July 19 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, host Tucker Carlson asserted that Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) support of "sex education for primary school kids would seem to provide Obama's political opponents with powerful fodder to deride him, as [former Vice President] Al Gore was once derided for inventing the Internet, or [1988 Democratic presidential nominee] Michael Dukakis was once for furloughing Willie Horton."
Carlson was referring to a speech Obama gave at a July 17 Planned Parenthood event, in which he noted that Alan Keyes, his Republican opponent in the 2004 U.S. Senate election, had attacked him for "support[ing] teaching sex education to kindergartners." Obama continued: "You know, which, I didn't know what to tell him. But it's the right thing to do. You know, to provide age-appropriate sex education, science-based sex education in the schools." According to a July 18 ABCNews.com report on the speech, the Obama campaign subsequently pointed to an October 6, 2004, article in the Daily Herald of suburban Chicago that reported Obama's clarification that he "does not support teaching explicit sex education to children in kindergarten." The Daily Herald article quoted Obama saying, "Nobody's suggesting that kindergartners are going to be getting information about sex in the way that we think about it." ABCNews.com further reported that, according to his campaign, the sex education legislation Obama sponsored in the Illinois Senate supported "local schools informing kindergarteners that babies do not come from the stork" and "envisioned teaching kindergarteners about 'inappropriate touching.' "
As Media Matters for America has noted, Willie Horton -- an African American convict who assaulted a man and raped his fiancée after escaping a furlough from prison in Massachusetts -- was frequently invoked by the 1988 campaign of George H.W. Bush to portray Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis as soft on crime.
Carlson himself hasn't required actual "fodder to deride" Obama. In the month of July alone, Carlson has said Obama "seems like kind of a wuss," "sounds like a pothead," and gave a speech that was "kind of wimpy, " as Media Matters has noted.
From the July 19 edition of MSNBC's Tucker:
CARLSON: Welcome to the show. Senator Barack Obama is on the campaign trail. He's talking about, of all things, sex education. Senator Obama brought it up at Planned Parenthood's national conference. Here's part of what he said.
OBAMA [video clip]: I remember Alan Keyes. I ran against Alan Keyes, I don't know if you guys remember Alan Keyes. But I remember him using this in a campaign -- in his campaign against me saying, Barack Obama supports teaching sex education to kindergartners. You know, which -- I didn't know what to tell him. But it's the right thing to do. You know, to provide age-appropriate sex education, science-based sex education in the schools.
CARLSON: In other words, "I'm for it, and I'm proud of it." Is this really a good idea? The idea of sex education for primary school kids would seem to provide Obama's political opponents with powerful fodder to deride him, as Al Gore was once derided for inventing the Internet, or Michael Dukakis was once for furloughing Willie Horton. Today Obama's campaign tried to explain what he meant by the statement, telling MSNBC that his approach would, among other things, quote, "help protect children from pedophiles. A child's knowledge of the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching is crucial to keeping them safe from predators."