Thank you all for sharing your views of the speech. Our readers love to hear what each other thinks. And for me, it helps take me out of the buzz of Washington, where as you probably expect, the speech was viewed as a masterstroke.
I give President Obama credit. This was one of the most important political speeches of his career, it was a moment when the country needed words that unify and words that heal. I think, both in content and delivery, he rose to the occasion.
I had written that he should not ask us to tone down the rhetoric. To some extent he did. But he didn’t say so much that we should tone down our arguments, just that we should be civil. And he addressed my chief concern, which was that in calling for civility, he would be aligning himself with those who want to use the tragedy to quiet conservatives.
And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy — it did not — but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud.
What we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other.That we cannot do. That we cannot do.
I think Obama went out of his way to separate himself from his fellow Democrats and liberal pundits who have been trying to pin this stragey on Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and the Tea Party. He clearly states those who went after conservatives without having any idea why this rampage occurred were wrong. And that took some courage.
On the other hand, I felt a little too lectured. And there was no sense regret for Obama’s own immersion during the 2010 campaign in the muck of vitriol.
The important thing here is not what Obama said. He’s not going to make things more civil with his remarks, any more than 9/11 brought us together as a country for more than a few fleeting weeks. The aggressive nature of the discussion has a logic all its own that won’t respond to outside forces, even to Obama.
But Obama has partially reclaimed his tattered mantle as a politician above politics – a “post-partisan” leader – however little truth there may be to the image. It’s the image he needs to re-re-brand himself with if he want so to be reelected. The White House smartly used this event to get him back on the right path.
And, whether it was intended by the White House or not, the odd reaction of the crowd, as if they were at some kind of pep rally, helped add a dose of feel-good and uplift to the somber.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today said the speech was not written with the expectation of applause, and that the choice of a basketball arena at the University of Arizona for a memorial service was Arizona’s, and that the president was merely invited to attend.
I don’t buy what some have said, that the people there cheered because Arizona was ready for a change from the mourning atmosphere of recent days. I think it was a bunch of kids seeing a rock star president they support, and getting as excited as you might expect.
The White House must have understood this, and probably could have controlled the event, insisting on a memorial in a church. At the very least, they shouldn’t have been unprepared for the reaction at a rah-rah event titled “Together We Thrive: Tucson and America.”
But I didn’t mind it. There should be uplift as well as mourning in such an event, given the incredible amount of heroism we witnessed amidst the evil. And, faced with the incongruity, Obama played things just about right.