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Laura Bush, Newt Gingrich endorse Obama's school talk to kids. Gee, indoctrination must be working.

President Obama's back-to-school speech -- derided by conservative critics as an attempt to impart socialism to the nation's impressionable youngsters -- is (finally) winning some high-profile endorsements from the right.

Former First Lady Laura Bush told CNN, "There's a place for the president of the United States to talk to schoolchildren and encourage schoolchildren" to stay in school.

Embedded video from CNN Video

In an interview with CNN from Paris, where she is part of a U.N. mission on global literacy, Bush praised Obama for doing a good job but faulted the Education Department for issuing lesson plans suggesting that kids write letters on how they could help Obama, guidance since rescinded.

The former schoolteacher and librarian also said she hopes parents will echo the president and "encourage their own children to stay in school and to study hard and to try to achieve the dream that they have."

Even more telling, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich -- a conservative running for president who initially called Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor a racist -- has come round on this one.

In interviews on Fox News and on the "Today" show, Gingrich called the White House "smart" for releasing the transcript Monday (see earlier Ticket post) and called on students everywhere to listen up.

Obama, for his part, may welcome the dust-up. After all, it may be easier to deflect conspiratorialists who see socialism in stay-in-school messages than those who see death panels in healthcare reform.

As he tells the kids today, "Being successful is hard. Don't let failures define you."

-- Johanna Neuman

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Many thanks to Mrs. Bush and Mr. Gingrich for their support of the president's speech to the schools! The only people who have the influence to dial down the unreasonable fear and mass hysteria from the "far right" recently are top Republicans! It's high time someone decided to put the interest of our country ahead of the interest of their party, and help defuse some of the over-the-top panic and fear being waged against the president. Division, fear and dehumanizing/demonizing of political opponents do absolutely nothing to help or enhance your nation!

look, it was never THAT message that some were against. It was the lesson plans & After all, it was originally a longer speech and there was no early release of it until after the criticisms grew. So many, including me were skeptical as this president inserts politics into everything he does.

the coverage of support from the aisle helps to show solidarity in Obama's education initiatives. the lesson plans seem to have been more of the issue for debate rather than the politics. and that's a good thing.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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