Friday, January 14, 2011

The Speech in Arizona

I watched the speech. In fact I watched the whole pep rally memorial service. That was a big deal for me, since I find it really hard to listen to this man speak, so I often won't look at anything but a transcript. But I watched this one because pundits were saying that this speech "had" to be different or "would" be different. Some were even saying that this speech would be a "transformative moment" in Obama's presidency.

Then when it was over I watched the pundits at Fox News slobber on themselves, outdoing each other to say what a great speech Obama had given. All I can say is, the reaction to this thing falls into two categories: 1) the usual partisan tripe from Obama sycophants; or 2) the "soft bigotry of low expectations." The second one seems to have been at play at Fox. We are obviously so used to Obama completely missing the mark when it comes to any sort of real leadership, that when he comes even sort of close, people fall all over themselves praising him. It's what Obama's been used to all of his life: effusive praise for an average performance--or as someone else said, a speech filled with "flat, harmless, boilerplate stuff."

So I've been reading around on the Internet, searching for reasonable commentary on this event. I'm going to leave the choice of venue and crowd reaction for others to comment on, except to say that if you put a large group of 20-somethings into a basketball arena, and hand out 10,000 t-shirts, complete with the slogan for the event, then maybe what you're going to get will resemble a pep rally. If you want a memorial service, then you choose--oh, a cathedral or something. I'm sick to death of hearing how Obama and his people were "surprised" about the crowd reaction. That's what we call a confabulation. They knew exactly what they were going to get--cheering, whooping crowds, "giving it up" for candidate Obama. And it was what they wanted, since otherwise Obama could have shut down the whooping in one second. But that thought evidently never crossed the mind of our narcissist-in-chief. The atmosphere of the event was simply bizarre. Michelle Malkin covers the "boneheaded venue" on her website. Another writer at American Thinker is also distressed about the "hijacking of mourning for political purposes."

As for what Obama said. Kirsten Powers isn't exactly one of my favorite commentators, but this time she hit the mark. She has a good article at The Daily Beast: "Obama Speech Missed an Opportunity." Powers' point is that Obama failed to deliver on one of the important reasons for giving the speech in the first place: shutting down the nonsense about how Sarah Palin or right wing talkers caused the shooting. "Obama chided Americans to 'be better,' as if we somehow caused this shooting to happen." I also liked the way Powers pointed out the typically meaningless Obama-speak that was part of this speech, like all of his others: "Among the many odd assertions he made: suggesting that 'what a tragedy like this requires' is that 'we align our values with our actions.' We were told to 'expand our moral imaginations.'" Powers' succinct reaction pretty much mirrors my own: "Huh?"

Update. Does anybody else think the coverage of this whole event, heartbreaking as it is, has become, well, excessive? I'm thinking back to the days surrounding JFK's assassination and comparing what I remember of the coverage of his death and funeral, and I'm starting to think that I've really heard enough about what went on in Arizona. My heart goes out to the victims and their families. I wish the Congresswoman and all the other victims the best recovery possible. One of the big takeaways for me from this tragedy is that the country needs not only to learn how to have a better conversation about mental illness, but medically we also need to find ways to treat mentally ill people more appropriately. And of course, as we've come to expect, the Left obviously tried to capitalize on this tragedy as a means of shutting down free speech, which isn't going to work. And beyond that--I'm done with it.

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