"Nut-job conservatives" have some explaining to do, said Michael Daly in the New York Daily News. The speech Barack Obama delivered to school students on Tuesday was not the leftist brainwashing the right-wingers said it would be—it was just a call for kids to take responsibility for their own education. "Why did people who thought it was fine for the first President George Bush to address millions of schoolkids decide it was an outrage for Obama to do the same?"
It's true that George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan "both gave similar speeches in similar circumstances to students without creating a lot of hard feelings," said Ed Morrissey in Hot Air. But it wasn't the speech itself that sparked the outrage—it was "the very ill-considered exhortation from the official study guide to ask students how they "can help President Obama." Still, read the text of the speech and you'll find that Obama says "I" 56 times and "education" just 10—so maybe the critics were right when they said Obama was out to promote himself.
President Obama definitely has "very political goals," said Neal McCloskey in Cato.org, even if he quite predictably wrote a "non-controversial speech about working hard and staying in school." The broader goal was to "cast the president in the warm glow of a man who just cares about kids." It was also predictable that Obama's supporters would use the "relatively staid final product" to make the president's critics look silly, but "who knows what the speech might have looked like had there not been so negative an initial reaction?"
Obama's enemies should be embarrassed, said Joe Gandelman in The Moderate Voice, for claiming the president would deliver "a partisan, Marxist, cult of personality speech to poison their kiddies’ minds with liberalism/socialism (pick your favorite buzzword)." Instead they keep on insisting it's somehow dangerous. In the end, they only hurt their own cause—a lot more people surely watched Obama's speech thanks to "this manufactured-for-ratings-and-partisan-gain furor."