Looking at the list of commencement speakers this year, one finds them predictably liberal. Glenn Beck spoke at Liberty University, but that's a conservative school.
There is Alec Baldwin, the leftist actor/activist (New York University); Anderson Cooper, news anchor at ratings-challenged CNN (Tulane University); Rachel Maddow, lefty commentator at another unwatched network -- MSNBC, she spoke at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., where 25 years ago I was shouted down by a group of lesbian students. There is also Michelle Obama (George Washington University); Katie Couric (Case Western Reserve); and Meryl Streep, who The Washington Post described as "the woman that every woman, young or old, aspires to be." Really? Streep spoke at Barnard College.
It's been many years since I was asked to deliver a commencement address, so I've had a lot of time to think about what I might say. This would be my abridged speech to the Class of 2010:
I've just observed the 50th anniversary of my high school graduation. When my father went to his 50th, I thought he was an old man. I don't feel old.
Where will you be in 50 years? You can plan now. Ask people older than yourself to tell you their mistakes so you can avoid making the same ones. You will make enough of your own.
We live in a "feelings" world, not an intellectual one. "It can't be wrong when it feels so right," says the song lyric. Yes it can, and often is. Make economic and relational choices based on cold hard facts, not feelings. Feelings come and go. Truth remains forever.
Live within your means. There is no shame in being middle class, even poor. What is shameful is being in debt, which enslaves you to outside forces at high interest rates. Look at debtor governments, including America. Economic freedom is a precious gift. If you can't afford something, don't buy it to satisfy your lusts.
Marry someone who will be your partner in every way and then have children. Living together first robs you both of a great mystery. Statistics show it also reduces your chances for a successful marriage.
Your value does not lie in how much money you make, who you know or what office you hold. Make your goal more than accumulating money and buying stuff that eventually winds up in an estate sale. Contribute something to a fellow human being. Improving another life is not only a gift to that person, but to you.
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