Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, a possible 2012 GOP presidential contender, jumped on the conservative bandwagon today questioning President Obama's planned back-to-school speech.
Pawlenty said on WCCO radio in Minneapolis that the speech, scheduled for Tuesday, was "uninvited" and raises concerns about "the content and motive."
The White House insists that Obama's message is innocuous. "We've reached a little bit of the silly season when the president of the United States can't tell kids in school to study hard and stay in school," spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters today.
Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan blasted Pawlenty for what he called kowtowing to the far right.
"One would think that encouragement and inspiration directly from the President of the United States to the next generation of Americans, an experience school children will not forget for the rest of their lives, would be something everyone would embrace. Outrageously, Governor Tim Pawlenty, who, as a leader in his state, should be encouraging the success of our children, would rather pander to the extreme right wing of the Republican Party by dismissing and joking about next week's speech," Sevugan said in a statement. "The only joke here is Tim Pawlenty, who is clearly trying to out-Palin Sarah Palin in his sickening attempt to please the radical right-wing Glenn Becks of the world."
Conservatives, however, say Obama is trying to further his own agenda, pointing to a part of the accompanying lesson plan -- since withdrawn -- that recommended having students "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president."
Some school districts have decided not to show Obama's speech or to allow parents to withdraw their kids.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.