By the time the president gave his back to school address yesterday, the most venomous conservative blowback had receded. After days of rumors that Obama planned on "indoctrinating" America's children, most commentators found the actual speech to be non-partisan and praiseworthy, if a little dull. In his speech, the president said he wanted to focus on, "the responsibility each of
you has for your education." Newt Gingrich was so pleased he took the time to, "recommended it to everyone." Not all were so satisfied.
- The Overreaction to the Speech Was the Real Story, says Kathleen Parker at The Washington Post. "Just when you thought things couldn't get any stupider, schools across the nation decided to censor President Obama's speech urging kids to work hard because 'being successful is hard.'" Parker says there was nothing controversial about the "boring," "long," and "certifiably schmaltzy" speech except that Obama was giving it. "The only thing missing from this orgy of conservative orthodoxy was . . . a Republican president. And that is the lesson of the day."
- I'll Give You Something Controversial, Mary Elizabeth Williams writes at Salon. "Tomorrow my girls will start a new year at a New York City public school whose budget was recently slashed by over $300,000." Williams says the real shame isn't the president's foray into the classroom, but the lack of priority the country puts on public education. Williams is indignant. "It's a little hard for me to get whipped up over the imagined threat that my kids are going to turn into commie zombies from watching a speech. Instead, I found myself welling up when Obama told the assembly, "I'm working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn." Because God knows they really do need them."
- Not So Innocuous, says Michelle Malkin. She says the speech was far from non-partisan. "Obama/Ayers/Klonsky and company are not interested in imparting knowledge. They are interested in creating "social justice" activists."
- Boring, pronounces 11-year-old Claire O'Donnell after viewing the speech in her classroom. "I thought that he could have directed it even more towards kids. At times it seemed like a normal speech directed towards adults."
- Funny, It Wasn't This Controversial When the Republican Said It, writes Patt Morrison at The Los Angeles Times. Morrison notes the striking similarity between the president's speech and one California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, gave earlier this year:
Morrison said a Republican could have just as easily given yesterday's speech. "Laura Bush, who was married to one, thought it was a good idea. Newt Gingrich, who'd like to be one, gave it his endorsement. Right, move along now, nothing to see."
Obama: But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents and the best schools in the world - and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities.
Schwarzenegger: Work your butt off. You never want to fail because you didn't work hard enough. I never wanted to lose a competition or lose an election because I didn't work hard enough. I always believed leaving no stone unturned.