But since taking office in January, the onetime Austin earth mother, who greets visitors to her office with a "Come on in, y'all" and often displays wit and charm, has also shown her willingness to engage in bare-knuckle politics, fighting to tamp down a growing rebellion against President Bush's No Child Left Behind law.
Facing a challenge to the law from Connecticut, she accused educators there of being "un-American."
It sounds pretty bad, right? And why haven't we heard of it before? (That was my reaction.) But Kaus shows that the actual statement was far more innocuous:
Ms. Spellings, asked about Connecticut during a television appearance, said it was ''un-American, I would call it, for us to take the attitude that African-American children in Connecticut living in inner cities are not going to be able to compete, are not going to be prepared to compete in this world and are not going to be educated to high levels. That's the notion, the soft bigotry of low expectations, as the president calls it, that No Child Left Behind rejects.''
Talk about a hatchet job...