What began as idle musing by Michelle Malkin and a few other conservative bloggers has since hit Politico
, the Associated Press
, and the New York Times
Obama's Sept. 8 speech to public school children, which will be
broadcast online and on C-SPAN so classrooms can tune in, started out
as about "the need to work hard and stay in school," reported the AP.
But now? Turns out that it's a secret White House plot to "indoctrinate
their children with socialist ideas," as the Times described the fears of Obama's critics. As several school districts vow to avoid the speech, a few questions. How did
this happen? And what should Obama do about it?
- Malkin's Kick-Off Malkin got the ball rolling
on Wednesday by accusing Obama of "using students as junior lobbyists"
and "disgraceful abuses of power." How? "Zealous teacher’s unions have
enlisted captive schoolchildren as letter-writers in their campaigns
for higher education spending," she said. "Out-of-control activists have
enlisted their secondary-school charges inpro-illegal immigration protests, gay marriage ceremonies, environmental propaganda stunts, and anti-war
events." She pushed for parents to get involved, writing, "Parents have
every right to worry about their children being used as Political
Guinea Pigs for Change." And, boy, did they ever.
Conservatives Chorus Builds David Boaz wrote
on Cato's blog, "The Obama administration is trying to push its
president-worship onto 50 million captive schoolchildren." Christian
conservative leader Gary Bauer released a statement declaring, "The Obama Administration is using its power in unprecedented ways, this
time injecting itself into the nation’s classrooms. Tuesday may be a
good day to sit in on your child’s classes." Prominent Florida Republican Jim Greer accused Obama of "using our children as tools to spread liberal propaganda." RedState was all over it as well.
- Liberal Backlash The New Republic's Michelle Cottle switched it up on
conservative critics. "Whatever one's party registration, the idea that
any child should be
kept home from class purely so their parents can make a political
statement about an apolitical speech is appalling," she wrote. Steve
Benen agreed. "The temper tantrum the right is throwing in response
only helps reinforce how far gone 21st-century conservatives really
are," wrote Benen. "This is what American politics has come to in 2009." John Cole lamented, "The entire party has been taken over by crazy people." NBC host and former GOP Congressman Joe Scarbarough tweeted, "WHERE ARE THE NATIONAL GOP LEADERS SPEAKING OUT AGAINST THIS KIND OF HYSTERIA?"
- History Lesson Jake Tapper pointed out that both Reagan and Bush Sr. gave similar school speeches. "Nov 1988: Ronald Reagan spoke to students, telecast on CSPAN," he wrote. "In q&a talked about opposition to gun control and other issues." But they have note been without controversy. "On Bush 41's
speech to students: Gephardt said Dept of Ed 'should not be producing
paid political advertising for the President,'" Tapper noted.
Cease Fire! Voices from both sides of the spectrum would like us to all chill out. National Review's Michael Rubin wins today's nonpartisan punditry award
for pointing out, "executive interaction and interference in public
education could be much, much, much worse." He cites Russia, "where
President Medvedev has launched an initiative to standardize all
textbooks, arguing that exposing students to historical debate turns
young minds to kasha." Conservative blogger Allahpundit brushed off right-wing rage, writing, "If he inspires a few kids to hit the
books harder, more power to him." Old-school liberal blogger Duncan "Atrios" Black agreed this isn't worth the trouble. "It's all stupid, but really think it's fine if schools don't run obama speech," He wrote. They "Shouldn't feel obligated to."
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