The President’s Speech

I did not watch President Obama’s speech last night, nor any of the memorial service turned pep rally, but I have read the transcript.  After reading through it I have to concur with the majority sentiment that this was a very good if not excellent speech. In fact this is perhaps the best one the President has given, granted that is a pretty low bar.  President Obama’s speeches can most charitably be described as vague, but this one contained a very clear message and was very appropriate for the occasion.  I was struck in particular by this passage:

You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations, to try to impose some order on the chaos, and make sense out of that which seems senseless.  Already we’ve seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health systems. And much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government.

But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized  at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do  it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.

Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, ‘when I looked for light, then came darkness.’ Bad things happen, and we have to guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.

For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped these shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.

Naturally there’s been some blowback by some conservatives horrified at the notion that anything President Obama has done or said could ever garner praise by fellow conservatives.  For example, just read the comments to any number of blog postings on the Corner last night.  Almost all of the NRO contributors praised the speech, drawing the ire of a large band of followers (though not all, certainly).  I’m not really sure what more the President could have said.  If there’s any criticism due this speech it is that it does seem a bit over-long.  It’s almost like one of those homilies where it feels like the Priest is vamping in order to hit some pre-conceived notion of how long the talk should be.  But it is foolish to have  expected the President to have delivered a full-blown attack on leftists who engaged in any “blood libel.”  The tenor of his remarks were certainly appropriate for the occasion.

I don’t think that President Obama’s political career is suddenly going to be rejuvenated because some right-wing pundits like one speech that he gave.  If this wasn’t your cup of tea, fine.  I’ve found myself disliking many an Obama oration that others have drooled over, so opinions may vary.  But to me this was a speech well worth the praise it has received.

25 Responses to The President’s Speech

  • It was a good speech, spoiled by the “Let’s Make a Deal” audience reaction, whooping it up, hooting, whistling when solemnity was called for — totally inappropriate at a memorial but symptomatic of today’s youth which has little respect for tradition.

    Obama struck the right tone, but could have done without the Indian guy at the beginning who hogged 20 minutes of face time for one of those interminable blessings that came right out of a Hollywood script.

    While deserving of recognition, the wild adulation over Daniel Hernandez was way over the top.

    As political theater, it succeeded, and Obama probably will get a nice bounce in the ratings. Other than that, I don’t think it will change the discourse one iota.

  • No problem with the speech, but shouldn’t we expect more decorum and reflection from a memorial service? It came close to being turned into political theater. He could have given the speech any time, but a memorial should be lead by priests or ministers, with the President, if he attends, sitting respectfully in the audience. Ideally it should be private. He did talk about the victims a bit, but it never should have been about anyone else in the first place. As it was they were relegated to being little more than a prop.

  • “..but shouldn’t we expect more decorum and reflection from a memorial service? It came close to being turned into political theater.”

    Perhaps not as bad but nonetheless in the mold of Wellstone’s send off.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/001/830clrob.asp

  • Too late to say you’re sorry. He should have told his Obama-worshipping imbeciles to STFU on SATURDAY.

    That was nothimng other than a pep rally/stump speech.

    Did he pray for the reprose of the soul of the GOP Judge assassinated by his dope-addled, left wing lunatic who “brought a gun” to “punish his enemies”?

    They booed the GOP governor (probable she’s next on the liberal hit list) and Obama lied about “she opened her eyes.”

    It is part of all liberals’ natures not to let any crisis or tragedy go to waste . . .

  • I only read the excerpt you cited. I thought it was excellent. As far as those on the right who may refuse to acknowledge any good from the President, we shouldn’t get too worked up about it, but still take the high ground and try leading by example. There are always going to factions within factions that are so blinded by their own biases that the only reality to them is their bias. They no longer stand for good that led them to their position, they end up standing up only for their position. Reality and any sense of good be damned. I think you see a far larger portion of the left affected by it, but there is clearly a significant portion of the right too.

  • Assuming yesterday was a statistically average day: In the time it took President Obama to make nice with his base, 86 (rounded) unborn babies were (Constitutional right) killed. Some seem to think the most abortion-promoting regime leader this side of Red China is “good” because he can lead a campaign rally.

  • Again I didn’t see the event, and from the reports it sounds pretty bad. But to what degree, if any, does President Obama bare any responsibility for that? Did his office plan the event, or was he simply an invited participant? He may not have been fully aware of what was going to play out.

  • Did he pray for the reprose of the soul of the GOP Judge assassinated by his dope-addled, left wing lunatic who “brought a gun” to “punish his enemies”?

    Judge Roll was the first of the slain that he singled out.

  • Made no mention of who was responsible for the event. Apparently the U of A planned it. My point was the gaudiness of it all. This captures my opinion:

    http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/publius-forum/2011/01/arizona-memorial-a-most-disquieting-display.html

  • I too thought the pep rally atmosphere was odd at first but as his speech progressed into a message of hope it became appropriate.

    Judging by the fact that his speech went way over schedule, he may not have been expecting interrupting applause.

  • Anybody know where to find a video of the Mass that Palin refers to?

  • “The tenor of his remarks were certainly appropriate for the occasion.”

    Sure. I expected nothing less, to be honest. Obama knows how to be appropriate, and his failure to join in on the blame game will probably make leftists as angry as the rightists who wanted him to denounce it.

  • “Expand our moral imaginations”? Are you kidding me? I think it better if we “diminish the diminutiveness of our fears”.

  • I concur: good speech, but it was a very improper tone for a ‘memorial.’ For instance, when the native American opener announced that he was Mexican on one side of his family there was loud cheering…

  • The speech was fine. The “memorial” felt like a pep rally. The “medicine man”, he is Carlos Gonzalez an associate professor of clinical medicine and an MD at the University of Arizona, with the eagle feather at the beginning giving a native blessing was surreal beyond belief.

  • Why not get Bishop Kicanas of Tucson for opening benediction? It’s not as if he’s busy running the USCCB. Both Judge Roll and Christina Green were Catholic, afterall, and none of the victims were Indians.

    Insane academic bias.

  • I don’t read the Corner, but the sensible criticism I’ve seen elsewhere hasn’t been for the speech itself, but for the circumstances surrounding it. As T. Shaw points out, if you’re going to give a “let’s all pull together and not place blame” speech, you do that as soon as the blaming starts. The president can get TV time anytime he wants; he didn’t have to wait for this. He kept mum for days while his minions in the press did a hatchet job on everything in sight that looked or smelled conservative, and now that they’ve all shouted themselves hoarse and been discredited anyway, he gets credit for calling for moderation (implying in the process that this was a problem of general “polarization,” and not entirely a one-sided attack)? Please.

    If he’d given the same speech right away — and called out some of the worst offenders in the process — that would have shown some real statesmanship. No, we shouldn’t expect that, because he’s not a statesman; he’s an orator and politico. He routinely uses “enemies” language in reference to conservatives because that’s what he believes. He’d never put Doing The Right Thing ahead of Gaining Political Advantage From The Situation. The Right Thing can wait until the political advantage has dried up.

    So, he did the right thing in the end, like a boy who gets caught hitting his sister but refuses to apologize until he’s had to go to bed without dessert for a few days and starts to realize maybe this isn’t working out that great after all, so he works up some sincerity and gets it over with. Maybe better than nothing, but not much. Do you give the boy a cookie?

  • I didn’t watch the memorial (not getting TV and all) but reading the speech it looks like it was exactly the right tone. Good to see Obama taking the high road.

  • Just saying . . . for five days . . .

    HE PREFERRED THEY TALKED 24/5 ABOUT THE WEREWOLF OF WASSALLA: They weren’t talking about gasoline/home heating oil prices rise (cap and trade would have made long term prices worse); Joblessness increases; wholesale food prices climb.

    “Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance rose by 35,000 last week to 445,000 (last week was also revised up by 1,000, so one could see it as a 36,000 increase). This was much worse than the expected level of 415,000.”

    “The number of Americans filing unemployment claims unexpectedly rose last week, the Labor Department said early Thursday.”

    The proportion of employed Americans is 64.3%, lowest since . . . Hey, reduce the denominator make it better.

    How’s that collective planning working out, Sparkie?

    No!! Wait!!!!

    Catho-tax-funder-abortion-promoter Sibelius’ own Kansas just became the 26th US state suing over ObamaCare.

    I would apologize to suffering Americans.

  • Someone wrote an effective speech that is overdue and Obama delivered it inappropriately in an inappropriate venue several days after he should have. This pagan pep rally billed as a memorial was not only in poor taste, but indicates the high level of irreverence and indifferentism that we engage in as a culture. Additionally, the comaprisons to Clinton’s post OK speech and Bush’s post 9/11 speech is specious – this was a crime committed by a mentally unstable, possibly possessed murderer – OK bombing and 9/11 were acts of terrorism. We are making a national tragedy out of a local crime becuase this is nothing other than propaganda and political theatre.

    As T. Shaw pointed out, Obama is still the single most prominent non-Chinese murderer in the world – who cares if a he delivered a ‘good’ speech? I doubt it matters to God. If not for all the Holy Sacrifices offered everyday and the predominantly Catholic pro-life movement His Wrath would have ended us long before the AZ murderer got off the first shot.

    Charity cannot be given in a compartmentalized manner. Kudos for a mediocre speech DO NOT trump the Charity we owe millions of murdered babies.

  • Better late than never, I say. He said what needed to be said, it’s on the record, and the public will move on to other concerns eventually.

  • Yes, the public will move on, people will congratulate Obama for posing as the peacemaker after doing nothing to call his attack dogs to heel, and the next time the left wants to slander the opposition over some tragedy, they’ll know they can get away with it again as long as their leader follows it with a non-apologetic call for reconciliation. Great.

  • Should we expect Presidents to make speeches when things like this happen?

    It sounds like a good speech.

  • It was a good speech. It was also the classic good cop/bad cop ploy with the left media playing bad cop and the O riding in as the good cop.

  • Though perhaps the t-shirts were political propaganda:

    http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/johnberry_iv/C94H

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