Feature

Obama’s school speech lesson

What Obama, and the GOP, can learn from the flap over next week’s presidential address to schoolchildren

“President Obama’s plan to speak to America’s schoolchildren next Tuesday has some Republicans in an uproar,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. Their criticism, that Obama plans to indoctrinate our children in socialist ideology, is “overwrought, to say the least.” Obama’s message of working hard and taking responsibility for their own learning is “hardly the stuff of the Communist Manifesto,” so why the calls for an “NC-17 rating”?

First, it’s not Obama’s job to “go over the heads of parents,” said The Washington Examiner in an editorial, and give “mass life-counseling to school kids.” Then there’s the worrisome ‘Dear Leader’ aspect” of the speech: Having “the nation’s leader exhorting students ‘to get focused and inspired for the new school year’ would not be surprising in Havana, Caracas, or Pyongyang,” but it “properly sets off all kinds of alarm bells” here.

The alarm bells should be ringing all right, but rather for the Republican Party, said Rod Dreher in BeliefNet. At least one “Texas Republican friend” has told me that this “crazybomb on the Right”—Obama’s speech is akin to Hitler and Charles Manson, for example—is the “last straw,” and he no longer wants “to be associated in any way with the GOP.”

Look, “lefty darling Dick Gephardt” criticized a similar school speech by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, said Allahpundit in Hot Air. But the amazing thing is that the White House didn’t anticipate this reaction, given the “righty suspicions about creeping authoritarianism.” Seriously, “do they not watch Glenn Beck or listen to Limbaugh” in the West Wing?

Obama should have seen this “hysteria” coming? said The Dallas Morning News in an editorial. “Who in their right mind could have anticipated that a president encouraging American kids to be exemplary students would set off a roaring partisan prairie fire?” Conservatives used to respect the U.S. presidency, and “roll their collective eyes when liberals would go berserk over the most ordinary things Bush said. Why the hypocrisy now?”

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