On the July 19 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough discussed an ABC News report on comments Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) made at a Planned Parenthood event, which appeared under the headline “Sex Ed for Kindergartners 'Right Thing to Do,' Says Obama.” Scarborough said, “I'm gonna tell you why Democrats don't get elected president regularly, all right? Because they say things that lend themselves to the type of headlines, this Associated Press headline, and you gotta be careful.” Scarborough, co-host Mika Brzezinski, and guest John Ridley, an NPR contributor, proceeded to sharply criticize Obama -- with Brzezinski exclaiming, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa” and Scarborough and Ridley sharply questioning Obama's political judgment. None, however, actually spelled out what Obama was advocating.
By contrast, the ABCNews.com article to which Scarborough referred elaborated on Obama's position:
When Obama's campaign was asked by ABC News to explain what kind of sex education Obama considers “age appropriate” for kindergarteners, the Obama campaign pointed to an Oct. 6, 2004 story from the Daily Herald in which Obama had “moved to clarify” in his Senate campaign that he “does not support teaching explicit sex education to children in kindergarten. . . The legislation in question was a state Senate measure last year that aimed to update Illinois' sex education standards with 'medically accurate' information . . . 'Nobody's suggesting that kindergartners are going to be getting information about sex in the way that we think about it,' Obama said. 'If they ask a teacher 'where do babies come from,' that providing information that the fact is that it's not a stork is probably not an unhealthy thing. Although again, that's going to be determined on a case by case basis by local communities and local school boards.'”
In addition to local schools informing kindergarteners that babies do not come from the stork, the state legislation Obama supported in Illinois, which contained an “opt out” provision for parents, also envisioned teaching kindergarteners about “inappropriate touching,” according to Obama's presidential campaign. Despite Obama's support, the legislation was not enacted.
Scarborough noted that Obama “says, of course, that it needs to be age-appropriate,” but did not discuss what Obama meant by age-appropriate. Brzezinski stated, “I'd like to know what age-appropriate sex education for kindergarten is.” Ridley said, “I don't want my kid, 4 or 5 years old, to be sexually aware at that point.” Scarborough did not note that Obama was quoted in the ABCNews.com article saying, “Nobody's suggesting that kindergartners are going to be getting information about sex in the way that we think about it.” Nor did he mention the article's reference to “teaching kindergarteners about 'inappropriate touching.' ”
From the July 19 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
SCARBOROUGH: OK, I'm gonna tell you why Democrats don't get elected president regularly, all right? Because they say things that lend themselves to the type of headlines, this Associated Press headline, and you gotta be careful. You gotta be careful. Barack Obama hasn't been on the national stage very long. This is a headline, actually it's from ABC News: “Sex Ed for Kindergartners: The Right Thing to Do” --
SCARBOROUGH: -- “says Obama.”
BRZEZINSKI: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.
SCARBOROUGH: I could get in and I could explain the subtleties.
BRZEZINSKI: Could I see that?
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. Do you believe that? But he says, of course it needs to be age-appropriate, but he made fun of [Illinois' 2004 Republican Senate candidate] Alan Keyes for suggesting that it was wrong to teach kids in kindergarten sex education and imitated Alan Keyes, but then went on to say -- he was talking to Planned Parenthood, who is very big into sex education -- I have nothing against sex education, you know. I wish I would have gotten some sex education, you know, by the time I went off to college.
BRZEZINSKI: But what are you teaching a kindergartner?
RIDLEY: Yeah, kindergarten!
SCARBOROUGH: But kindergarten is insane. Do you understand, John Ridley, how Democrats always seem to be tone deaf? They talk to Planned Parenthood. They talk to these groups that have left-leaning agendas. They say these outrageous things and they come up, and they blow up in their face later. Whereas Republicans -- people say, “Well, Republicans talk to right-wing nuts.” I'll tell you something, most people are not offended by the things that Republicans say regarding faith, etc. etc. in Middle America. But when you say sex ed for kids in kindergarten, that's insane.
RIDLEY: It's more than a little much, and I don't know how you defend it. And, you know, again, there are so many other policy issues going on. It's one of those things when you say it, it takes over everything else. The Democrats have been talking about faith, they've been talking about national security. It all sounds good, but this is like, “Oh my God. For my kid?”
SCARBOROUGH: It's symbolic.
BRZEZINSKI: I would like to know what they're teaching. I'd like to know what age-appropriate sex education for kindergarten is.
RIDLEY: I don't want it at all. I don't want my kid, 4 or 5 years old, to be sexually aware at that point. Don't need it, don't want it. You talk about high school, fine. Not five-year-olds.
SCARBOROUGH: And this is the problem, again, where Democrats have disconnected with Middle America many times -- parents mainly -- who may be progressive, but also have kids and are very concerned about the world that their kids are growing up in. And somebody sees this headline in the morning, “Barack Obama Supports Sex Education for Kindergarten Kids.” They don't care about the subtleties. They just check it off.