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."