Remember that moment in the 2008 campaign when Gayle Quinnell explained to John McCain that she didn't trust Obama, because he was an Arab? And McCain's response: "No Ma'am, he's a decent person and a person you don’t have to be scared of as president of the United States."
While there are still plenty of folks who are, to this very day, terrified of Obama, it was still an important and necessary act for McCain to try to bring his supporters back to Planet Earth again.
I think the Republican leadership is getting the opportunity to do this again.
The White House has announced that it will give a pep talk to students on their first day of school. If I'm understanding the logistics of this, Obama is going to talk from Wakefield High in Arlington, VA. He's picked that school because it's diverse, not well off, yet is managing to improve itself and its students. The goal of the speech is to "urge students to take personal responsibility for their own education, to set goals, and to not only stay in school but make the most of it."
Could you criticize this as fluff? Sure, probably. As a high school student, I'm not sure how I would have taken being addressed by the President. I'd probably have had other things on my mind. As an adult, I think it's smart and creative move.
Yet some Republicans have managed to turn this into yet another let's get people terrified about Obama event. The Washington Post cites:
Jim Greer, chairman of the Florida Republican Party, said the speech is an effort to "spread President Obama's socialist ideology" and "justify his positions" on health care, the economy and taxes. Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin claimed that "the left has always used kids in public schools as guinea pigs and as junior lobbyists for their social liberal agenda."
And WorldNetDaily goes even farther:
The plans announced by Obama also have been cited as raising the specter of the Civilian National Security Force, to which he's referred several times since his election campaign began, but never fully explained.
"He's recruiting his civilian army. His 'Hitler' youth brigade," wrote one participant in a forum at Free Republic.
"I am not going to compare President Obama to Hitler. We'll leave that to others and you can form your own opinions about them and their analogies. ... However, we can learn a lot from the spread of propaganda in Europe that led to Hitler's power. A key ingredient in that spread of propaganda was through the youth," wrote a blogger at the AmericanElephant.com blog, where the subject of the day was a national "Keep-Your-Child-at-Home-Day."
Oh. My. Gosh. I find this nauseating. And I'd like to believe I'd feel just as sick to my stomach if people were saying these things about Bush.
So, like I said, I think this is the perfect opportunity for the Republican leadership to stand up and say - "Uh, no, you're wrong. We don't agree with Obama's policies, but you guys are way off base here. Way off."
For heavens sake, how ironic is it that the party that prides itself on personality responsibility is demonizing the president for expressing this very same message?