This is one of those flaps that is hard to believe. Conservatives are going nuts over Obama’s plan to speak to school kids urging them to stay in school. For sheer hysteria, it is hard to top Debbie Riddle’s letter to constituents: By now, most of you are aware that on Tuesday, President Barack Obama will broadcast a message to our school-aged children. I know that many of you agree with me when I say I believe that 100 percent of this president’s agenda is not to be trusted, even when it is innocently repackaged as a pep rally promoting the benefits of education. Our children need to be excited about learning, and they need to be encouraged to complete their education, but they do not need to be taught to idolize Barack Obama. Riddle’s letter contains a delicious typographical error in the headline: RIDDLE TO CONSTITUENTS: YOU CHILDREN DO NOT HAVE TO HEAR OBAMA’S SPEECH I do think that the reaction to the speech is way over the top, but Jason Embry of the Statesman did some good reporting about the Democratic reaction to a similar speech by Bush 41 in 1991: House Democrats criticized President Bush yesterday for using Education Department funds to produce and broadcast a speech that he made Tuesday at a Northwest Washington junior high school. The Democratic critics accused Bush of turning government money for education to his own political use, namely, an ongoing effort to inoculate himself against their charges of inattention to domestic issues. The speech at Alice Deal Junior High School, broadcast live on radio and television, urged students to study hard, avoid drugs and turn in troublemakers. “The Department of Education should not be producing paid political advertising for the president, it should be helping us to produce smarter students,” House Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) said. “And the president should be doing more about education than saying, ‘Lights, camera, action.’ “ Two House committees demanded that the department explain the use of its funds for the speech, an explanation that Deputy Secretary David T. Kearns provided late in the day in a letter to Rep. William D. Ford (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. Education Secretary Lamar Alexander was out of town. The Democrats’ reaction seems equally nutty. Is everybody crazy? Just me, I guess.
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