Thursday, January 13, 2011

Obama Nails Part One

Your President and mine nailed it — at least the first half of it — last night in Tucson. At the memorial service for the six slain Saturday, he was superb at being the nation's healer. As a bonus, he injected aspiration into a stunned populace.

Next up must be specifics and the politics he so assiduously and properly avoided. The big part missing in honoring the dead, wounded and those who helped them is what to do next.

The NY Times runs the released text of Barack Obama's oration. The delivered remarks differ only in a few repetitions and an occasional substitution of a word that did not change the meaning. Where I quote below, I use his live version.

We should say first that when he's on, he's really on, as he was yesterday. He started off slowly with the necessities and niceties. He praised the heroic deeds of the dead, wounded and those who aided them. He had done his homework and was able to do act like any good preacher delivering a eulogy — giving meaningful vignettes of the deceased to fix them in living memory of the audience.

Moreover, he was slow at the start to heap high the recognition of those who were heroic Saturday. He played that beautifully as well, giving the present and distant audiences a sense of ownership and duty.

It's coming

It's still early on the East coast but I did wonder what the nastiest of the wingers had managed to find for criticism. The Limbaugh types will likely do their spin and nitpicking later.

The only immediate slam I found was from the ever asinine Michell Malkin. She truly wrote a piece last evening saying that because related posters and t-shirts featured blue and not red, this was politicized branding. She may have been bright at one point.

We can listen and look later today for more and worse. Unfortunately for them, Obama steered clear of politics. Smearing his dual messages of eulogy and striving will work only for what Limbaugh calls his ditto-heads.

What Was and Is Missing

The POTUS had a huge down-and-dirty chance and reason to weave pure politics here. He pirouetted instead.

Extremists of all types and particularly self-identified conservatives and Tea Party sorts have been stalking insults since Saturday. It's been pretty pathetic to hear the don't-dare-call-my-hate-talk-what-it-is lingo. The slightest implication that calls for violent overthrow of elected officials might inspire the crazed or hyper-partisan to pick up arms somehow makes these extremists victims — if only in their shriveled hearts.

Instead, Obama said only such as:
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 think differently than we do – it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are 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 must 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 those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man's mind.
The odd angle of all this is that what he has joined so many in saying following these shootings is that regardless of what catalyzed the violence, this is the time to evaluate how we speak and act. There is where his memorial oration halted short of content.

Stem Winding

The oration wisely and skillfully pivoted on Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year-old murdered that day. The life not fully lived, the innocent and eager, the gentle potential were and shall remain powerful thoughts and feelings.

As the speech concluded, he invoked her most poignantly (and to great audience approval) including:
...I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.

That's what I believe, in part because that's what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed....She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.

>I want to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it. All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations.

Of course the nasties will do their worst even with such wise, loving and compassionate calls. They surely will when in future days and weeks, the POTUS will suggest to Congress and likely in his next address to the nation how we might honor those who died and do good together.

Alas for the divisive forces, last night's sentiments and those sure to follow are certain to remain powerful. The huge, steady voting blocs such as women and older citizens are far more likely now to be swayed by the imagery, ideas and feelings put forth last night than calls to revolution and loony conspiracy charges.

While last night's oration was decidedly unpolitical, the truth of the politics here is that those who elect our Presidents, governors, lawmakers and others are not inherently stupid or vicious. Given clear enough options for acting rationally and civilly, most may well do just that.

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