Even as I blogged yesterday about conservatives' uproar over Obama's planned back-to-school speech, I was unaware of the actual level of paranoid nuttiness we are looking at. Today's NYT helpfully clarifies the situation, with its front-pager on how some school districts are under growing pressure by parents to let kids sit out the speech for fear that one glimpse of Obama will transform their budding Dittoheads into miniature Hugo Chavezes. I also didn't realize that this speech was announced weeks ago and is only now provoking a glass-cracking hysteria as cynical pols and pundits inflame the deep-red masses with toxic b.s. along the lines of:

Canadian gasbagger Mark Steyn warned Rush Limbaugh's listeners that this address is part of Obama's attempt to indoctrinate American youth into a cult of personality ala Kim Jong-il or Saddam Hussein.

The head of the Florida GOP expressed dismay that "taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama's socialist ideology."

Better still, radio babbler Chris Stigall, donning his wary-father hat, declared: "I wouldn't let my next-door neighbor talk to my kid alone; I'm sure as hell not letting Barack Obama talk to him alone."

WTF? Stigall's relationship with his neighbors is his own business. But let's be clear here: Barack Obama isn't inviting kids one-by-one to come sit on his lap in the Oval Office and fondle his copy of Bill Ayers's memoir.

Indeed, pretty much everyone with even a tenuous grasp on reality understands that no one is making plans for anyone's child to be alone with the president, even televisually. All those kids whose parents aren't so hyped up on partisan crazy pills that they keep Junior home from school Tuesday will watch the POTUS while safely surrounded by a couple of dozen of classmates and at least one teacher. There will be no furtive, inappropriate touching of anyone's cherished political ideology.

Take everything I said yesterday about this being a pathetic moment in our nation's history and cube it. I considered George W. Bush to be a misguided, incompetent, possibly dangerous president with whom I agreed about very little, but I would have had zero problem with a speech by him on the importance of working hard in school being aired in my children's classrooms. Why? Because it would never have occurred to me that Bush had some sinister plan to recruit my kids into his conservative army. Call me naive, but I just don't lose sleep over the idea that some hulking right-wing machine is scheming to brainwash my offspring. 

For all the talk about his slipping popularity ratings, Obama really has the wingers spooked.