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Obama, Would-be Slavedriver

I was driving home from family vacation and missed this column yesterday, but it deserves to be roundly ridiculed. "Obama and Volunteering: Forced Servitude in America?" may be the most rambling, whiny, faux-provocative effort from Jonah Goldberg I've ever read, which is kind of like saying something is Nicolas Cage's worst movie:

There's a weird irony at work when Sen. Barack Obama, the black presidential candidate who will allegedly scrub the stain of racism from the nation, vows to run afoul of the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery. For those who don't remember, the 13th Amendment says: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime ... shall exist within the United States."

In his speech on national service Wednesday at the University of Colorado, Obama promised that as president he would "set a goal for all American middle and high school students to perform 50 hours of service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of service a year." He would see that these goals are met by, among other things, attaching strings to federal education dollars. If you don't make the kids report for duty, he's essentially telling schools and college kids, you'll lose money you can't afford to lose. In short, he'll make service compulsory by merely compelling schools to make it compulsory. 

Right, because playing chess with senior citizens for an hour a week in return for getting $4K to help pay for your classes at the Virginia Commonwealth University is pretty much like chattel slavery, and Obama is our modern-day John C. Calhoun in blackface. Of course, at the end of the column, Goldberg backs off, saying such a call to service isn't really like slavery, ha-ha! But then why even open the column the way he did? Being neither true nor funny, the analogy only qualifies as a mad shriek for attention. 

--Eve Fairbanks