WASHINGTON -- The White House announced today that the Ingalls family of Walnut Grove, Minnesota, are this year's winners of a graduation commencement address by President Barack Obama.
"We couldn't be more thrilled," said Charles "Pa" Ingalls, a family farmer and suspected Tea Party activist. "After hearing that only 68 schools in the entire nation had applied for this year's presidential graduation address, my wife and I encouraged our kids to throw their hats in the ring. Of course, we never thought they'd actually win!"
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney also expressed surprise. "The essay by the Ingalls children really was just head and shoulders beyond anything we'd ever seen. Even Secretary of Education Duncan had no idea kids like this were still out there. They had paragraphs and everything."
Given continuing unrest involving unionized teachers in Wisconsin, however, political experts are divided on the implications of this announcement for President Obama's 2012 reelection bid.
"Politically, I just don't see the upside," said Joe Trippi, who ran Howard Dean's successful 2004 presidential campaign. "I mean, did you see them on the Today show? The father actually called one of his daughters 'half-pint.' How demeaning is that? The president should be calling out this abusive father, not rewarding him with a speech."
Robert "Bob" Shrum, who ran John Kerry's successful 2004 presidential campaign, disagreed. "IT'S A HOME RUN, BABY!!!" Shrum responded by e-mail. "THIS IS WHAT I CALL REACHING OUT TO THE CENTER!!!"
Among the president's core supporters, reaction was uniformly skeptical.
"President Obama has again betrayed those who put him in office," said noted education theorist William Ayers. "True education doesn't happen in the home, or a private school, or a charter school, or a magnet school. Research shows that true education only happens in a public school, or at a protest led by a teacher who called in sick."
Ayers is not alone in his views. The National Education Association has vowed to picket the Ingalls home during the president's backyard graduation address. Other organizations publicly committed to protesting the Ingalls ceremony include the American Federation of Teachers, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Westboro Baptist Church.
Reports that the Rev. Al Sharpton will lead a counter-graduation ceremony across the street were unconfirmed at press time.