Michelle says it’s “not the speech, it’s the subtext.”
And I wonder if I would have seen the uproar in the rightosphere as nothing more than a tempest in a teapot were it not for the preparatory materials the Department of Education provided exhorting teachers to have students, “Write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president.” Ed Morrissey offers a similar view:
In fact, had the White House skipped the study guide and simply released the speech from the beginning, it seems unlikely that this would have created much controversy at all. Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush both gave similar speeches in similar circumstances to students without creating a lot of hard feelings. That isn’t to say that their political opponents all yawned.
In the end, the remarks seem remarkably banal, but I wonder if they would have been more pointed (and more partisan) had the right not raised suck a ruckus.
Morrissey finds the speech quite self-referential with the President referencing “himself more than school, education, responsibility, country/nation, parents, and teachers combined.” (Read the whole thing.)
Similarly finding the speech “unobjectionable” as it “exhorts students to study hard and aim to achieve big things. It is devoid of any controversial content,” Paul Mirengoff also laments the speech’s self-referential aspect:
One might have hoped for less discussion of Obama himself, particularly the things he’s tried to accomplish in the area of education. But that hope would have been unrealistic with this president.