Perhaps this will be my last post on the Tucson tragedy. There are a few words more to say, particularly after the memorial with President Obama on Wednesday.
First, a final word on the so-called journalism that has dominated the week. The journalistic profession, in my view, was another of the casualties:
The irresponsible charges during the week set a new low standard, not only for journalists but for those in politics who sought to use this for their own gain. How bad was it? Let us count the ways:
It would be nice if that lesson could be learned.
Then there was the memorial service. If one were to simply read the words the president spoke, it would be difficult to find anything to criticize, although even using all the right words may conceal the worldview behind the words. Americans generally want to believe the best about their presidents. Yet this much must be remembered: a good speech is simply that; it does not indicate any change of direction in policy, and his policies are hurting us as a nation. Obama may get a bump in approval as a result of his ability to read a good speech, but we need to look beyond the words to the philosophy that continues to animate the man.
The service itself was disconcerting. Organized by the University of Arizona, an institution with a decided leftist orientation, it began with a Native American blessing that included an address to Father Sky and Mother Earth—the former being the source of masculine energy and the latter feminine energy. At least that’s what we were told. Inviting this man to invoke a blessing, when none of the victims was Native American, was another bow to political correctness. A proper representation for those who died would have been a Christian minister and a Jewish rabbi.
The university also provided T-shirts for everyone to wear with the slogan “Together We Thrive: Tucson and America.” T-shirts at a memorial? That actually fit nicely with the political atmosphere as the crowd whooped and hollered at everything Obama said. He probably should have been embarrassed by it. Perhaps he was. As many have commented, this was more a pep rally than anything else—or the kickoff to the Obama reelection campaign. Those in attendance were weighted to the left of the political spectrum. When Republican governor Jan Brewer was introduced, she was booed.
The focus was more on the president than the victims of the shootings. The crowd obviously considered him the rock star for the evening.
A memorial should be just that. When Ronald Reagan attended the memorial for the astronauts who died in the Challenger explosion, he was not the center of attention. There was a proper sense of reverence and respect that dominated the proceedings. His major address to the American people had come earlier in a short Oval Office speech without a crowd. For the sake of dignity, I believe Obama should have followed that example.
Civility was the keyword for the Obama speech. That’s fine as far as it goes, but did he ever single out the uncivil words and actions of those who were making the false accusations? No, instead he approached it as a matter of moral equivalence, that both sides must now be civil. Excuse me, sir, but there was only one side displaying incivility in this case. As one commentator, Carol Liebau, noted, why did it take so long for the president to deal with this at all?
We were treated to four days — Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and most of Wednesday — of ugly rhetoric and vituperation from the left, while The White House remained silent.It’s not clear to me whether this was (1) simple mismanagement; (2) an effort to make sure the anti-conservative message got wide play before attempting to appear “above it all”; or (3) waiting for polling data to learn what tack would resonate with the greatest number of Americans. I don’t mean to nitpick, but you can be darn sure that if national dialogue had been heading in some direction that the President clearly opposed — as, say, in the Hasan shootings — it wouldn’t have taken him four days to make some effort to shut it down.