Obama Tucson Speech Discussion Thread

Folks have asked for a thread to talk about the President’s speech last night in Tucson (as well as the entire gathering in general), so, okay, here you go. Chat away. I’ll probably have more to say about it later, once I’m done with today’s writing quota, but for now I’ll say that my general impression is that he did it very well, both in eulogizing the dead and reminding the living that we can be better to each other than we are. Nicely said, and nicely delivered.

Go ahead and post your thoughts below.

(Also, before you ask, today is my daughter’s second snow day in a row, which means I spend some amount of time working around her, which means my schedule is a bit fragmented today, which is why I’m here at the moment typing this instead of running away  from the Internet in the mornings as I’m supposed to be doing. However, that said, I am about to run away now to write up at least part of a new chapter. I’ll be back after that to post today’s Big Idea, from the fabulous Jo Walton Wendelin Van Draanen (whoops, fudged my own schedule, Jo is next Thursday). Later!)

106 thoughts on “Obama Tucson Speech Discussion Thread

  1. Also, I would like to believe that all y’all don’t need me directly standing over you with the Mallet of Loving Correction in order to be civil and polite to each other in a political thread about a possibly contentious topic. Prove me right!

  2. Good speech I thought. Presidential. Healing. Generally well done (if just a tad too long). I’d give it an A.

    And he totally rebuked the madness that has been on-going the past few days.

  3. No disrespect meant to the President or anyone else, but I generally NEVER watch presidential addresses. This was no different. I’m sure for some people it was very important, possibly even needed for healing or a restoration of sanity. But I personally find them hard to watch, though it has little to do with the President’s ability to speechify and more that I just find them tedious. (And I should mention I find this true for every president I’ve ever seen…almost all of whom were charismatic communicators).

  4. I thought that Obama’s speech was well written and well delivered, and for a man that I believe often shows emotion at the wrong time (not enough passion when its needed, and too much anger when he should be restrained) I thought he struck the right balance.

    What did weird me out – and I’m not sure if this is due to my reticence as a native Brit – was the reaction from the crowd. That there was a crowd of 26,000 in a stadium for a memorial service makes me itchy in itself; that they were actually cheering and shouting during the remarks just struck me as inappropriate. I noticed that when the camera lingered on victims of the shooting and their relatives, they weren’t cheering. Yes, they applauded. Yes, they looked grateful for the President and other’s remarks. But they didn’t whoop and cheer.

    Didn’t anybody tell the 25,500 that didn’t know a victim personally why they were there? That it wasn’t a rally? That there’s a bit of etiquette to be had?

  5. @WizarDru, you’re not the only one. I like President Obama and I watched part of the speech, but I find them tedious as well. I think if I’d thought he was going to say anything I didn’t expect him to say I would’ve watched all of it but from the parts I saw and what I’ve read he didn’t drop any surprises.

  6. First, I think it is better to watch Presidential addresses first hand than to wait for the chattering class to dissect it later.

    Second, I think Obama spent a touch too much time talking about Christina Taylor Green. He was making a good point, but by spending too much time on her, some people might get the impression that he was exploiting her death for political purposes. I know that wasn’t his intention.

    Third, it felt to me that he was baiting the political right to attack his speech. He used the words “empathy” and “life-partner” which have set the right off before. He also said something about how wealth doesn’t matter. You know he would be attacked for class warfare for that statement if he said it last week.

    Overall, it was a great speech.

  7. as i noted in the other thread, i watched palin speech and then followed it with obama’s, and couldn’t help comparing them. for a woman that hopes to give obama a serious challenge in 2012, she has got a looooong way to go. her response was completely off balance and off target. as paul begala noted in a cnn op-ed, she could have used the opportunity to say many things that would have garnered respect and admiration, and instead made petty comments to the effect that everyone is treating her unfairly and implying that she was being persecuted. wrong move.

    obama made a good move, rhetorically, in this speech as well. around 25 minutes and 30 minutes or so, he shows a side we’ve rarely ever seen from mr. cool: he gets a little choked up. perhaps it’s real, perhaps it’s feigned–that doesn’t matter–but when he speaks about the 9 year old, he starts blinking a lot and you can tell it’s more difficult for him to maintain composure. this isn’t the wanton weeping of boehner, but a more manly and measured display of controlling emotions from a guy who never shows any at all. i’m not saying it wasn’t genuine, but from a political standpoint that was solid gold for his public image.

  8. @Rich maybe it’s my Brit tendencies (Texan by birth), but I found the cheering to be unequivocally insensitive. You can applaud when the speaker affirms the constitution, lauds the victims, etc. But cheering your University or your favorite sports team shows that you have no business being there.

  9. I saw it more as a photo op for obama. I really have no respect for him and I certainly do not need him to comfort me. If anything, it made me ill. When bush was president there were many who said that he was not their president. I scoffed at the time, but now I understand how they can feel that way. obama is not my president, i do not respect him in the way.
    yes, obama blathered on about the victims and touch upon healing and the discourse in the country. yes, now that he and the democrats have suffered greatly for their job performances do we hear this. And I think it is wonderful that Giffords is mending well and i hope she fully recovers, but obama announcing it just made me ill. obama just looks and sounds fake and his lack of “change” just proves that.
    It simply is sad that this incident was so politicized, very sad.

  10. AMos @8, you said it well. In comparing the two speeches, Palin for the most part talked all about herself, while Obama talked about us, the citizenry. Or, Palin tried to lay the blame on anyone by herself, and Obama took it in as a flaw of the citizenry that we need to address (‘we need to make ourselves better, or words to that effect).

    Another reason that I can’t see Pailin actually being germane to the 2012 election conversation.

  11. Seems to me he must have dusted off that speech writer he was using during the campaigns. It’s quite a good one.

  12. This is what a president is supposed to do. Nothing politicized about it. What I find sad is that some can think that this was politicized to cover up for job failure when in fact: A) much of the promised job was in fact accomplished – just messaged very poorly by the dems and brilliantly by the GOP, and B) speaking at/about/for issues of national interest is EXACTLY what any president is supposed to do.

  13. @ Rich; from what I’ve read about the address, the people were cheering the parts of the speech where President Obama was praising the heroics of Giffords’ aides, the EMTs and the people who tackled the gunman. I agree it was a bit weird but we Americans tend to get dramatic with that sort of thing.

    @ Amos; respectfully I think I’d like to see how you react to 4-5 days of over the top vituperation and slander and see how utterly calm and serene your response to your critics would be. I don’t think the left side of the political blogosphere and pundit class would be happy with anything less than a tearful confession and permanent self-flagellation from Sarah Palin. The term blood libel was a bit strong, I would have used the words slander, malicious and willful distortion of the available facts and a deliberate attempt by ignorant pundits and partisans to pin the blame on her for political gain. All of that has been rehashed ad naseum in the previous threads our delightful host allowed us to rant and rave to our hearts content. I will say this: The President spoke quite eloquently about assigning blame for the horrific events in Tucson;

    “For the truth is 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. ”

    Do you think you can listen to what he said and stop slapping Sarah Palin around for the heck of it?

  14. Didn’t anybody tell the 25,500 that didn’t know a victim personally why they were there? That it wasn’t a rally? That there’s a bit of etiquette to be had?

    That’s right. It’s your remembrance, in your city.

    Sorry to be sarcastic, but I don’t it’s quite appropriate, either, to tell others how to handle their emotions, particularly when they’re the people on the ground (and when it’s much more likely they know some of the victims or people involved, such as the intern, who is, after all, a student….).

  15. Politically, I’m right-of-center and I thought the speech was one of the best he’s delivered. It was mournful without being maudlin and struck the right tone for the occasion. Kudos to the president for a solid speech.

  16. I thought the President’s tone was spot-on. It’s hard to get these sorts of things right, given the unavoidable political calculation involved in being President, but this was about as close to perfect as can be.

  17. I thought he did a good job on the speech. He sounded sincere.

    It does amaze me, although by now I guess it shouldn’t, that two out of the first ten people to comment on the speech here took it as an opportunity to bash Palin yet again.

    It takes two sides to “come together”.

  18. I liked that he was able to keep it a little positive. Being regretful but trying to be positive. At the end, I would rather hear cheering than crying. But, I suppose that is also one of the reasons people don’t like me at funerals.

  19. YoYo @10

    What could Obama have done, limited to things not deemed impossible by physics, in Tuscon that wouldn’t have “sickened” you?

  20. I have to disagree with those who are seeing Palin bashing. “Bashing” implies over-the-top, emotion-laden criticism, often without reason or logic.

    The two comparators made what they felt were valid comparisons between the two speeches; one even cited a source. They both essentially claimed that Palin’s speech was focused on the effects of recent debate on HER, while Obama’s speech was focused on the victims, the local community and the nation as a whole.

    Validity of the argument is fairly easily discerned by looking at transcripts of the two speeches. Palin may or may not have made a good speech, which may or may not have included valid arguments. Obama may or may not have made a good speech, which may or may not have included valid arguments. Assessing those conclusions are personal and subjective; comparing references to self vs others in the speeches is an objective exercise; the words used in both speeches make it clear that Obama was focused outwardly while Palin was focused inwardly.

    Neither is necessarily bad or good, but if part of this exercise is to “be better” and engage in civil, rational discourse (particularly when we disagree) – for whatever reason (and just about any reason is a good one for justifying civil discourse over emotion-laden hyperbole), then let’s try to define things as precisely and narrowly as possible, and let’s based the discussion on facts whenever and wherever we can.

    “Bashing” is an attack word. “Comparison” is not.

    For those who were shocked and surprised at the cheering, several news commentators noted that after getting to know the local community, they were not surprised; Tusconians/Arizonans were deeply shocked over this incident and apparently welcomed the opportunity to give vent to their emotions in a positive way.

  21. I thought, yep, now THAT’S presidential rhetoric–and people aspiring to that office should be taking notes. I thought it was an excellent speech.

    I also agree with comments here above about the behavior of the crowd. Cheering and whooping at a memorial service just struck me as totally out of place. I was uneasy with applauding portions of the speech, too–but that was harder to quantity, since there were things (such as acknowledgement of unarmed bystanders and civilians who brought down the gunma) that did deserve applause.

    I was at a Marine’s funeral a couple of years ago where people kept applauding during the service, which I found disturbing. It seems to be turning into a common thing to treat a funeral or memorial (even a private one) as a pep rally or public assembly. I’m very uneasy with it.

  22. From a philosophical point of view, I find that almost everyone will see and hear what they want to (see and hear). Many claim that they are being objective, but, from my unbiased observation (HA!). they are actually filtering everything through a pre-disposed reference point. In other words, if 100 people were to observe any event, each would come away with their own interpretation about what they experienced. In reading the highly passionate and often aggressive postings here and on other sites over the last few days, it has become crystal clear to me that my assertion has been repeatedly proven.

    I’d like to think of myself as a slightly left-leaning centrist and, from that POV, I can usually be fairly objective and am able to empathize with both sides of any conversation. That being said, it is laughable to me how far some people are willing to go to rationalize their perspective. And, judging from their level of writing style and their mastery of the English language, I’d have to guess that they are pretty intelligent people (and, I imagined that that intelligence would translate to a higher level of tolerance and common sense) It never ceases to amaze me how someone can spend so much time and energy defending an obviously untenable position. Of course, this may be more a product of my own unconscious biases than any real illogical assertions by the “other” poster.

    So, what does all this mean? To me, it just seems insanely counter-productive for us to keep hammering away at each other just to prove we are “right” over every little seeming infraction perpetrated by the “other side”. I haven’t seen anyone budge an iota from their position, no matter how much “proof” is endlessly spouted at them. Other than hearing (and seeing) their own self-righteous spewings on a thread, does this blattering serve any real, positive end? The “other side” is obviously not going to suddenly have an epiphany and wholeheartedly embrace their assertions.Can we, as a species, afford the luxury of pointless, unending, non-productive, self-promoting posturing?

    Am I the only one who sees that Rome is burning while we are fiddling??

  23. #22 by steve davidson:

    It’s understandable that a comparison can seem like bashing when the comparison is so lopsided — whether or not the lopsidedness reflects reality.

    I haven’t seen the speech yet. I’ve always been impressed by Obama as a speaker, and was one of the people who tagged him as a serious presidential prospect after his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. (With a couple of exceptions, I’m *much* less impressed by the rest of his job performance so far.)

  24. #10 Yo-Yo; I’ve seen quite a few posts like yours on various comment boards and all they make me do is shake my head and wonder if you guys are even making the effort to listen these days to what I think is the moderate majority in this country that is simply sick and tired of the extreme positions taken by the fringe minorities on both ends of the political spectrum. All the yelling back and forth accomplishes is deafening the folks in the middle.

    No, I wasn’t too crazy about George W. Bush’s administration and had many issues with it, but I wasn’t one of those who said he “wasn’t my President”; like him or not, he was the elected President of these here United States of America and he was MY representative to the world. They see him, they saw ME, better or worse. I wanted him to succeed; why? Because that would have meant the country was closer to succeeding, to being the place I’d like it to be for my daughters.

    The self-destructive, visceral hatred that seems to be out there for the Current Resident of the White House truly puzzles me. Sure, you don’t have to like the guy’s policies, but speaking at the memorial service IS the President’s job; heck, even the Fox News commentators, no big buds of the President lately, said he actually did a good job in helping that community and possibly the nation heal a bit. Besides, aren’t ALL Presidential speechs “political” in some way or another, simply because the “post-game analysis” by all sides of the media make it so? I can guaranty that George W. Bush’s “flight” onto the Abraham Lincoln and subsequent speechifying in a flight suit WAS political theatre at it’s best, just like Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speach in Berlin and JFK’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” one in the same place.

    As to the folks who were bothered by the applause, clapping and even whistling, I’ve seen comments from some in Tucson who said they need some form of release since the weekend’s events and besides, what was the President going to do? Tell them to “shut up”? It didn’t look like it bothered the relatives of the victims any as far as I could tell. Again, even the Fox folks thought the President himself was taken aback a bit by the crowd (which may have been heavily student-oriented; hey, they’re young, give them a break).

  25. I think the president gave a great speech. I was particularly inspired by the president’s call for more civility in our discourse. It’s something I’ll try to keep in mind when discussion politics in the future.

    There’s a segment of the media that profits from incendiary rhetoric (from both sides). If we truly want to improve the quality of our discourse, I think we ought to start ignoring the voices of those who are more interested in screaming that finding solutions.

    I found some of the cheering a bit inappropriate, but I think it wasn’t done with the intention of disrespecting the victims. In the end, I think the the cheering expresses a determination to carry on despite the tragedy, an admirable sentiment.

  26. #24 by Frank Colella

    Am I the only one who sees that Rome is burning while we are fiddling??

    Am I being inflammatory if I try to draw attention to arsonists?

    (I originally meant this as oh-so-clever riff off your reference, but then I remembered the incident with the cut gas line last March in Virginia.)

  27. @Rich I also found the cheering really disconcerting, and I’m an American. It seemed that the audience was treating the event as a pep rally rather than a memorial. Particularly at one point when one of the speakers spoke of the 9 year old girl being murdered, and people cheered. I’m sure that they just meant to honor her memory, but it struck me as incredibly inappropriate. And like there was a huge disconnect from reality. It appeared to me, though, that President Obama and the other speakers seemed uncomfortable with the pep rally atmosphere as well.

  28. For those that seem overly uncomfortable with the cheering and what not, keep in mind that this isn’t a funeral. That will be later, private, and I’m sure, very solemn and sad. It seemed a little odd to me, as well, that there would be cheering and whistles, but we’re not there. We don’t have context. We haven’t been mourning for the better part of a week already. It may be that if you are there cheering or applause seems utterly obvious. As long as there weren’t white house staffers holding up signs that said “APPLAUSE”, I don’t think there’s anything there to get indignant about.

  29. I think what people are forgetting is — even though this was a televised event and President Obama’s remarks are hopefully a balm both to the local community and the nation as a whole — the memorial service wasn’t for us, it was for the community. I’m loathe to judge the local expressions of grief, hope, empathy, or anything else.

  30. sorry for double post, university provided or not, if obama did not want it to happen (shirts) it would not.

  31. Yes, it was horrible to have thousands of people applauding those first responders, doctors, the intern who helped save Gifford’s life, and the idea that civility in our civil discourse might be a good thing.

    Personally speaking I wouldn’t have gone for the applauding or the t-shirts, but I think trying to suggest that it was a bad thing is a little silly.

  32. sorry for double post, university provided or not, if obama did not want it to happen (shirts) it would not.

    That would be rude for a guest to do.

    Are you encouraging rudeness?

  33. YoYo @35
    Are you suggesting that it’s on the president to vet the event for anything that might be misconstrued by conservative YoYos (present company included) as politicking, and demand it be removed before he gives his speech?

  34. #35/35 Yo-Yo: I don’t really see the point of calling a bunch of t-shirts at a rally NOT planned by the White House (it was held at the local University auditorium and had lots of speakers OTHER than the POTUS) as proof of a “political rally”. To go further and say that “if obama did not want it to happen (shirts) it would not” is making a huge assumption about the power of the President to control every and anything in his orbit.

    Again, this is part of the problem many have with this constant, dribbling paranoia about every minor point; it drowns out the real issues. I have absolutely NO idea who was responsible for printing out those t-shirts and what purpose they had; they don’t say “copyright DNC” or “Welcome President Obama, kick the Right where it hurts” or anything like that. I doubt the President was any more responsible for the t-shirts than he was the audience’s responses, but apparently he’ll be blamed for them all.

    Can’t we simply focus a bit on the problems our country faces and a little less on scoring minor and untimately forgettable political shots?

  35. I find it interesting that one of the things almost all of our presidents have done beautifully is talk to us in times of tragedy. Having never been the biggest fan of the most recent President Bush, I was almost always moved by his speeches at times of national tragedy – even if I didn’t always agree with his rhetoric. The same goes for President G.H. Bush. Perhaps it is the speech writers, but I have to wonder if there isn’t a tendency to dig a little deeper at these times, to be a bit introspective and to maybe just try harder. It is, I think, one of those qualities that makes a person ‘presidential.’

    As to those who lament that this event has been ‘politicized,’ a politician was the target. That alone will politicize the event. That said, I don’t think it is a bad thing for all of us to look a little deeper ourselves and check our own rhetoric against the vitriol meter. Whichever side ‘started’ it all doesn’t really matter at the end of the day, it is what we choose to do going forward that is telling. I thought the President did a nice job last night in making that point, not calling out individuals or ideologies, but saying instead that it is time to dial it back a bit, to have a bit more empathy for our fellow citizens – for our fellow humans. This incident has certainly been a reminder to me of the lessons I was taught by my very politically active parents – I don’t have to agree with someone, but I do have to respect their right to their opinions. That discussion is more fruitful than arguments, and that if I am unable to defend my opinions by fact and reason, it is time for me to re-examine how I got there.

  36. Frank @24: “Other than hearing (and seeing) their own self-righteous spewings on a thread, does this blattering serve any real, positive end? The “other side” is obviously not going to suddenly have an epiphany and wholeheartedly embrace their assertions. Can we, as a species, afford the luxury of pointless, unending, non-productive, self-promoting posturing?”

    This thought has occurred to me on occasion, and there are some sites that I decide to actively limit my posts to 2 or 3 because I know I will get involved in some kind of downward spiral. The thing I have decided about the interweb debating society (which differs immensely from actual debate as a hobby/sport) is that it isn’t really about deciding who wins or loses, or even about convincing other people who read the thread about the rights and wrongs of an issue. The “point” of all of this is that it forces you to examine and defend your own viewpoint which you wouldn’t have to do in front of people who share that view or who just don’t care at all.

    People don’t generally change their mind because of this, and if they do, they generally don’t admit to it until later, but they have to at least think about why they believe what they believe, and in that sense debates about the issues (as long as they don’t turn into name-calling) can be healthy even if they don’t seem productive.

  37. As to those who lament that this event has been ‘politicized,’ a politician was the target. That alone will politicize the event.

    “Together We Thrive: Tucson & America.” is being political, I guess. Perhaps they would have preferred “Suffer Alone.”

  38. YoYo @ 34: A political rally for whom? The president doesn’t face an election until the fall of next year. And one of the speakers was the governor of Arizona, a Republican. “Together we thrive” is not a partisan message.

    I understand you aren’t happy about Barack Obama being the president. But why criticize him for doing his job?

  39. I lived in Tucson for 12 years while attending university, graduate school, and doing post-graduate work. I grew up in Arizona.

    Our culture, from the Native Americans, to the Mexicans, to the rest has always been to celebrate the person’s life while mourning their absence. I found nothing odd or disconcerting about the entire service. The cheers, the laughter, the clapping were all our way of saying, “thank you.” Both to the heroes and to the people who lost their lives.

    “Thank you for being a part of our community, our family. Thank you for saving our community, our family.”

  40. John Scalzi @36 It’s not that applauding first responders is a bad thing, it’s that the crowd seemed to be applauding pretty aimlessly. They applauded at one point when a speaker said that a 9 year old had been murdered and they applauded a few times when speakers were talking Tucson being a great community and about the UA campus.

    I’m trying to put my finger on what disturbs me about it, and I think it’s that it represents a disconnect from what is going on. Rather than appreciating the gravity of what actually occurred, it feels like many in this country are looking at the tragedy almost as entertainment and not real. It’s as though it were a blockbuster summer movie with action heroes and moral clarity. I think the cheering is similar to the vitriol currently being spewed by the extreme right and left about what happened. Instead of being saddened by what happened and reflecting on it, we cheer on the “good guy” on our “side” (whether that “side” is a political party or our university campus at a memorial).

  41. I was deeply moved by the service, and felt that the President did a good job of navigating the minefield. He had to address the current hot-button topics–gun control, mental health, and public discourse–but he did so in a way that acknowledged those issues without derailing the purpose of the memorial service. In fact, various pundits (I’m thinking specifically of Andrew Sullivan) posted demands that the President address the big three beforehand. Both the assassination and the office of President are inherently political, so it’s impossible to divorce politics from the event, but President Obama mostly kept on-task, eulogizing those killed in a very personal and moving way.

    As for the cheering, well, I was surprised at the reaction of commentators, not the enthusiasm displayed by the attendees. Since I initially watched the memorial in pieces on YouTube, without commentary, I didn’t realize that the crowd response would strike some as untoward. Upon consideration, I think much of the discomfort is class-cultural. In my own family, a funeral is a somber, sober event. A memorial service is a wake, often rowdy and raucous. A memorial is an opportunity to tell all your best, funniest stories about the deceased, to celebrate their life and accomplishments.

    This particular service took place on a college campus. Students camped out to get tickets, just as if it were a concert. The memorial was the biggest show in town, not only that day, but possibly *ever*. The President is, as much as we may try to ignore the fact, a big, big, BIG celebrity. There is no way to escape that, so it is, in my opinion, best to simply accept it and move on. There’s no point in blaming the rain for being wet, right?

    On the other hand, President Obama did a pretty good job of directing all of that enthusiasm appropriately–towards the victims and those who responded, and towards the families and community at large. That’s difficult, and shows a good deal of forethought. His speech was well-timed and paced, so that when he paused, it was at points when people could cheer without the cheering being entirely about him. Frankly, that also shows a pragmatic empathy of which I approve. People will do what they will do: it’s important to recognize that and take useful steps to deal with it.

    I noticed that his 30-minute speech ran to just over 34 minutes, including unscripted comments. That means that Obama and his co-writers accurately planned for crowd response, applause, et cetera, during the writing. This is not a criticism; I am pleased that so many competing and often contradictory requirements were handled so well in a relatively short address. I approve of professionalism and competence, especially in people with a great deal of visible responsibility.

    I will go off-topic a bit to say that I watched Ms. Palin’s video an hour or two later, and was once again disappointed. Many moons ago, when she was first tapped as McCain’s VP candidate and I knew nothing about her, I had high, high hopes. I thought, “YAY, a female Republican VP candidate, how awesome is that? I’m sure that the GOP picked their best and brightest to make such an important statement, I can’t wait to see what she has to say.” My heart has been breaking ever since, and yet, I keep hoping that one day, some day, Ms. Palin will pull her head out of her ass. I don’t believe she is stupid; I do think she is shockingly ignorant. I don’t think she is evil; I do think her ignorance blinds her to her own privilege and entitlement. I would really, really like for her to spend a year or two doing real, ground-level social justice work, and perhaps to read more books by people that challenge her preconceptions. I don’t necessarily want her to change her views, I would just like for her to be able to defend them better, from a position of broadly informed conviction and not insular entitlement. It could happen…

  42. Having not seen either speech, I’m mystified that the two would be compared. Palin’s speech was a response to malicious and slanderous accusations, Obama’s was a memorial service speech. Apples and oranges.

  43. If Obama _hadn’t_ “politicized this horrible tragedy”, he’d have been accused of “Heartlessly ignoring the suffering of the American People”, by the exact same critics. Damned if he did, damned if he didn’t.

    Personally, I didn’t watch the speech myself, but from the transcript, I think it was reasonably good.

  44. I don’t think the left side of the political blogosphere and pundit class would be happy with anything less than a tearful confession and permanent self-flagellation from Sarah Palin.

    On a day of mourning the victims of the Tuscon shooting, Palin would not have compromised any of her principles if she had expressed sympathy for the victims and their families and not talked about herself as if her own suffering was equally important.

  45. Chris Shaffer #15: “Amos; respectfully I think I’d like to see how you react to 4-5 days of over the top vituperation and slander and see how utterly calm and serene your response to your critics would be. I don’t think the left side of the political blogosphere and pundit class would be happy with anything less than a tearful confession and permanent self-flagellation from Sarah Palin. The term blood libel was a bit strong, I would have used the words slander, malicious and willful distortion of the available facts and a deliberate attempt by ignorant pundits and partisans to pin the blame on her for political gain”

    Yes, I’m sure it was enormously hard for Iman Feisal Abdul Rauf and his parishioners and his family when Sarah Palin and her allies and the far right blogosphere spewed vituperation and slander in the press at him for nearly two months over the Park 51 inter-faith project, calling him a criminal, a con-man, a Muslim extremist and possibly a terrorist who should be investigated, stopped and banned, despite his efforts to promote world peace working for two U.S. presidents, declaring that he was hurting people with his words and actions and that his doing so would cause others to be violent, which would be his fault, willfully distorting facts and just making a lot of stuff up right before the mid-term election for the political gain of Sarah Palin and those politicians she was campaigning for, many of whom advocated anti-Muslim legislation all over the country to show their bonafides to far right voters. And Rauf’s response was to call for peace, for dialogue about the center and to improve relations between people of different faiths in the Western World, as he’s done his whole career. Meanwhile, Palin’s fans were setting mosques on fire.

    Palin is a public figure who has used the press to attack and slander many people with often violent rhetoric, including Gifford. She doesn’t get a pass on the media questioning her words and their consequences while attacking others for their words and their consequences in the media just because she’s a conservative. What she’s been criticized for is nowhere near the nastiness she’s said about other people, including Obama and Gifford.

    Doug from Tally #26: “The self-destructive, visceral hatred that seems to be out there for the Current Resident of the White House truly puzzles me.”

    Doesn’t puzzle me. Far right pundits have been explaining that Obama is leading a socialist destruction of the country in preparation for a Communist Muslim foreign invasion apocalypse since he was running for office. So why wouldn’t they hate him? He’s not their president because they think he’s going to destroy them.

    I thought Obama gave a great speech, but I was expecting him to do so. He was there because it was his job and the state/local officials decided to hold it at the university because a lot of people wanted to come and to see him speak. The audience was in large part young university students. I imagine that they’ve been feeling rather beleagured this week, and scared. They were naturally going to be hyper and vocal.

  46. #50–Carrie: I think people are comparing the Palin and Obama speechs simply because they came out the same day and represent the differing poles of our political landscape.

    I did listen to at least chunks of both and thought, as most of the national commentators I’ve read so far today, that Palin’s talk was defensive and a bit more “look at me!” in tone, though she did say some of the same things the President did. Not being the subject at any time in my life of the rather obscure (at least to a Southern, Christian-raised male) term of “blood libel”, I think it is something she genuinely didn’t realize would be offensive to the Jewish community, which is part of the problem I have with her; she keeps saying things that later, upon reflection, she probably wishes she hadn’t said, but blames everyone else for taking offense at it.

    Is Palin or the rest of the Right “responsible” for the Tucson mess? I don’t think so, frankly, but that’s not my problem with them, but rather the constant, cumulative mass of frequently indicipherable folderol that keeps coming out of the airwaves and the Internet about birthers, racist rants (someone on a Yahoo board actually called the President “a great ape” in referring to the Tucson event), Democrats-did-it, Democrats-did-it-first, Democrats-are-morons, Michelle Obama is…well, you get the idea. It doesn’t solve anything and simply drowns out the voices of reason that are trying to be heard.

    I think Palin’s video would have been better received had she not painted herself as some sort of a victim and simply focused on the victims in Tucson.

  47. They applauded at one point when a speaker said that a 9 year old had been murdered and they applauded a few times when speakers were talking Tucson being a great community and about the UA campus.

    I’m trying to put my finger on what disturbs me about it, and I think it’s that it represents a disconnect from what is going on. Rather than appreciating the gravity of what actually occurred, it feels like many in this country are looking at the tragedy almost as entertainment and not real. It’s as though it were a blockbuster summer movie with action heroes and moral clarity. I think the cheering is similar to the vitriol currently being spewed by the extreme right and left about what happened. Instead of being saddened by what happened and reflecting on it, we cheer on the “good guy” on our “side” (whether that “side” is a political party or our university campus at a memorial).

    I just watched the entire service again and still can’t find where the crowd “… applauded at one point when a speaker said that a 9 year old had been murdered.” They applauded and cheered when Christina was mentioned by name.

    The celebration of the lives of these people from our community is not the same as the vitriol being spewed. Our southwestern culture demands a celebration of the people who have touched our lives, especially when they have passed away. The memorial service was what we needed as a community; these people were from our community, from our neighborhoods, and from our families. Celebrating that the victims, and those who helped save others have been a positive part of our lives is how we mourn. As a community, we shed tears for their deaths, but we also cheer their lives.

    The private funerals/burials of those who died is the time for the specific family to be somber. That’s the time to put away the cameras, put away the press, and to privately mourn the loss.

  48. @#50 Cassie:

    I think the two are being compared because Ms. Palin chose to release her statement just before the memorial service and President Obama’s speech. Personally, I don’t think the timing is accidental; unfortunately, I do think it backfired. Instead of upstaging the President, or even appearing to be his peer, she came across as narcissistic, shallow, and petulant. It’s unfortunate, because at least one of her points (i.e. that she is not responsible for the assassination attempt) was valid, but the tone, content, format, and timing of her words simply highlighted her inadequacy in comparison to the President. The comparison of the two speeches is certainly more germane than her charge of “blood libel.”

    I can’t talk about Sarah Palin, anymore. The woman really does break my heart: I want her to be better than she is, and it kills me to see her fall short, over and over again.

  49. A couple of notes to other comments:

    Total crowd was around 26,000. They set up screens in the football stadium to accomodate those who didn’t get into the basketball arena where the event took place.

    The U of A cancelled classes for the entire day, so a large number of the crowd were students. Radio reports indicated a lot of the people there went because they wanted to see the president. Since it was on the U of A campus and several of the victims had university connections, the crowd was responsive to that. Having been to a graduation ceremony for my niece there, the memorial crowd was still rather subdued compared to how noisy they were at the graduation ceremony.

  50. @55 momponi It was when Jan Brewer was speaking. She said, “We also lost Christina Taylor Green,” and the crowd cheered before Brewer could continue. I apologize though for saying that they “applauded after the speaker said a 9 year old had been murdered”–I was going by memory. In any event, I’m sure the applause was meant as support. I’m not ascribing bad motives to the crowd. My own personal reaction was discomfort at hearing applause there. Maybe it’s a cultural difference

  51. @#58 gwangung:

    Hear, hear! He seems to be an excellent young man. His behavior, from the moment of the shooting through his appearance on Keith Olbermann late last night, has been above reproach. The Congresswoman chose a sterling intern, and I hope that he continues to pursue public service.

  52. gwangung@58 – Absolutely!!!!

    As well as those others that stopped the gunman from reloading, saved (or tried to save) their spouses, and generally made the tragedy less tragic in whatever way they could, contributing whatever skills they possess.

  53. #59 by Ellie:

    I agree that it’s probably just a cultural difference, which is perfectly fine.

    I was just feeling defensive after hearing the memorial called a “pep rally” by many people who apparently didn’t understand Tucson’s need to celebrate the victims’ lives.

  54. Re 62:

    Gee, how could you possibly feel that: “No, you’re doing it wrong! You’re not using the purpose I would use and you’re not acting how I would act.”

  55. YoYo@10:

    I tuned out as soon as you typed “…I have no respect for the man.” I have friends who felt exactly the same about Bill Clinton and/or George Bush, but decided that the public memorial for the victims of the Oklahoma City bombings and the 9/11 attacks was neither the time nor the place for a one-sided pissing match.

    There is such a thing as being able to respect the office, even if you’ve no time for the incumbent. Try it.

    John Scalzi@48:

    Thanks for that – I’m still on the fence about John Boehner but if TPM (hardly a right-leaning site) thinks there’s not a shot to be taken, I’d pay attention.

    And who wants to bet that if Boehner had chartered a military plane he’d be getting it in the neck from both sides as a hypocrite in search of a photo op.

  56. My own personal reaction was discomfort at hearing applause there. Maybe it’s a cultural difference.

    Sure – and I’ve been to funerals/memorial services that were full-dress solemn religious ceremonies. I’ve also been to one for a atheist chum held in a hall, with enough balloons and bunting for a childrens party and the recessional being a rousing chorus of Monty Python’s ode to the joys of oral sex, ‘Sit on My Face’. There was also an open bar — which I find culturally offensive on multiple levels, but you know what? It wasn’t my party, and if I didn’t like it nobody was going to force me to stay.

  57. I think Ellie understands the cultural differences; there’s no need to be sarcastic about the fact that we all have cultural difference, or push the point anymore, is there?

  58. Chris Shaffer@15:

    respectfully I think I’d like to see how you react to 4-5 days of over the top vituperation and slander and see how utterly calm and serene your response to your critics would be.

    Well, respectfully, I’ve often said one reason I’m happy to stay in the peanut gallery of politics is because I don’t suffer fool gladly, but am glad to make fools suffer. Or put another way: I’ve got a really bad temper.

    And, equally respectfully, before we order the kegs for Palin’s pity party, Obama seems pretty “calm and serene” in the face of people who’ve quested his integrity, his morals, his religion, even the very legitimacy of his presidency — often in terms that would make a Marine blush for shame — for years.

    Three suggestions for Sarah:

    1) Can’t take it, don’t dish it.
    2) You’re being touted as a serious contender for the Presidency of the United States not Prom Queen. You’re occasionally just going to have to deal with people saying things you don’t like — and hold your shit. Because that’s what adults do.
    3) Harden the fuck up.

  59. @Craig Ranapia. Those were private memorials. How private memorials, or even a memorial held by UA intended for UA students, are held is up to the people holding the services, and not a matter of public concern. This was a nationally (internationally?) televised event with the President and other government officials speaking.

    In any event, I understand that it was a cultural difference. I was explaining my own reaction and discomfort while watching the event. I did not mean to suggest there was a right or wrong reaction, or a right or wrong way to hold a memorial service.

  60. I, too, was a little jarred by the whooping and hollering at the beginning of the speech, but I also noticed how they simmered down in a bit and only applauded at the right places.

    I thought the speech was perfect, and a stark contrast to Palin’s “stop blood libeling me” defensiveness/

  61. Two caveats: I didn’t watch the full speech (Obama’s) because I, well, don’t tend to watch speechifying on TV for almost any reason (even if it is THIS one). And I did click on Palin’s video but I couldn’t take more than a few minutes of the sanctimonious drivel thereon – so no, I didn’t see the full video, either. But I think I got the gist of both outings sufficiently to offer at least an opinion.

    First, and we already knew this, Obama is GOOD at this rhetoric thang. Palin is not. No surprises there.

    Second, Obama shone the spotlight out onto the situation and the people, and Palin onto herself. No surprises there.

    Third, I don’t know, if I was in a position of being someone actually involved in the whole ghastly affair, that I would have found either response helpful in the least. With Palin, it’s because I cannot see anything there except self-serving phoniness; with Obama, because this kind of grief – well – I just wouldn’t have wanted it this public. But at least I could have mustered up enough composure to tell Obama thanks for trying. Palin’s response would have merely made me very angry, with the kind of incandescent rage born out of true grief. And yet, there are STILL people out there who worship Palin. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS. When she doesn’t make me furious the woman makes me feel terrified at the prospect of a future wherein she plays any kind of significant part at all.

    I am glad that Rep. Giffords is awake and (apparently) at least partially able to control her faculties and senses – which, with any kind of brain injury let alone one this traumatic, is by no means a given. But I really REALLY hope that she, and the rest of the people who were at the receiving end of this hail of bullets, are NOT used as political capital – by EITHER side.

    I know humans are political animals. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.

  62. According to the time stamp on her Facebook page, Palin’s response was not released today, but yesterday.

  63. mopomi @66:

    Wasn’t aware I was being “sarcastic” as opposed to making a statement of fact. I’m a Catholic and Maori — the idea of having alcohol in the presence of the body is deeply offensive in those contexts. (And my own funeral is going to be on the more traditional end of the scale, FWIW. Monty Python won’t be on the playlist.) But in the context of celebrating the life of a dear friend as she wanted it done — and with the full assent of her same-sex partner of thirty years and their kids — it was perfect.

    My discomfort was my issue; and, in the end, it didn’t matter. There were aspects of the Tucson memorial service that made my eyebrows twitch, but seriously inappropriate or tasteless? No. YMMV, of course.

  64. I thought the speech was well done. The point of toning down and reigning in the rhetoric has been needed to be said for at least 20 years. Both sides are just as guilty of extremes as the opposing side. It’s become a contest of ‘one-up-man-ship’ rather than a contesting of ideas and ideals.

    Will it work? That I have my doubts about. Mainly because it would require for both sides to acknowledge and accept that they are as at fault for the political vitriol as the other side; something I have difficulty imagining. I suspect that the most extreme pundits of both sides will pay lip-service to the idea of moderation, and then turn right around and go back to voicing their rage in his/her personal echo-chamber.

    However, my hope is that those who are, like me, in the middle of the political spectrum will take this to heart and start calling the extremists out on their rhetoric; this is especially important to do with those that we mostly agree with. When your favorite pundit starts muttering things about the other side being ‘Nazi’s’, they need to be called out.

    And to make this extremely clear, both sides should feel guilty and ashamed for adding fuel to the vitriol over the last few decades. None have been justified in those extremes.

  65. Ellie@68:

    Sorry for the cross-post but my unconditional and sincerely apologies. I really wasn’t trying to passive-aggressively bitch you, but can see how others could reasonably read it that way. I think I’ll shut up now, before I ruin another perfectly good shoe.

  66. Yes, the whole “vitriol and rhetoric” stuff started with the Sheriff’s news conference the day of the shootings, but after listening to that clip played ad nauseum on every channel, I think he wasn’t necessary intending to point a finger at Palin or anyone else specific on the Right, but was simply pointing out what many have already commented here on: the “dialogue” over the last few years has been going downhill fast, fueled heavily by the 24/7 cable/internet/radio cabal. He was frustrated and, I think, in grief because the Federal Judge was apparently a friend of his.

    A number of more liberal commentators ran with it and expanded on the theme and, mistakenly, as more has come out, put the blame on Palin and a number of others in the blogosphere/right-wing talking headsophere. They were wrong to do that bit of finger-pointing and I think some have since cooled off and apologized.

    However, the Right, Palin and others, have blown it all up into yet another opportunity to throw raw meat at their base, while some others, even on Fox, have figured out that the majority really aren’t listening to the yelling anymore about who is to blame and how can Obama get fingered for this mess. Practically every comment board I’ve seen the last couple of days has had lots of posts with incredibly ugly, hateful and sometimes downright racist comments, some, yes, from the Left, but a LOT from the Right.

    My hope is that somewhere, somehow, the vast middle of the political spectrum in America will finally get a voice that the ends can listen to without going for everyone else’s throat in the meanwhile. Reasoned conversation is difficult because you have to actually listen to the other position and it’s gotten all to easy over the last couple of decades for the bomb-throwers to take the high ground and lob the easy ones into the crowd. It’s like we went from philosophic and reasoned discourse at the beginning of the Republic to TV talk-show riots in the present day. I know it hasn’t always been gentle over our history (Civil War, anybody?) but we somehow worked things out in the past and heaven help us if we can’t get over this hump.

  67. Craig Ranapia @ 68

    No worries. I was overly judgmental of the memorial service in my initial posts on this and would like to apologize for that. I should not have been so judgmental, but frankly, after the circus of insensitivity and rancor that has been going on in the media and online (on other sites–not here) that I probably spent way too much time listening to, I think I overreacted to the audience’s reaction at the memorial. I still find the applause uncomfortable, to me and this is my personal reaction only, but I should not have been so quick to judge others’ reactions.

  68. I skimmed the last few posts and came away with this (mistaken?) impression that in order to sound reasonable people are saying “both sides” do it. Really? I think this is a false equivalence. KO having a “worst person” in the world segment is not the same as Beck praying “every night” for the death of a person or O’Reilly indirectly advocating for the murder of doctors that perform abortion or the daily filth that Limbaugh spews. How many people listen to KO vs Beck/Limbaugh? And Palin with her “death panels” and grandma is gonna die and crosshairs on people is not the same as a little known dailykos blogger using the term “dead to me” in it’s figurative sense.

    there is just no equivalence here. So please stop saying “both sides do it” in order to sound reasonable. you have one side that is way out there in the loony end led by people that are listened to by millions of people and on the other end you have some unacceptable behavior with people that have no real influence.

  69. Ellie@76:

    No harm, no foul. As our host would say, we’ve both learned a thing or two and that’s a very small silver lining in a stinking great black cloud.

    And it is funny how ‘cultural differences’ work. Got an American internet acquaintance who’s just getting into British SF shows like Doctor Who/Torchwood, Misfits, original recipe Being Human etc. and I’ve become her de facto cultural advisor. Really funny how things I wouldn’t even notice are utterly bewildering to her. Who was it who said that England and America are two countries divided by a common language? :)

  70. Craig Ranapia, #72: I was more responding to gwangung’s comment on #63 than to you.

    Anyway, I’m ready to let it drop.

    I thought the entire service was great.

  71. Craig@72: “I’m a Catholic and Maori — the idea of having alcohol in the presence of the body is deeply offensive in those contexts.”

    As someone raised in an Irish Catholic household, and having attended many Wakes, I think your blanket statement may be more appropriate to Maori, not to Catholics. (And that’s not even getting into the fact that the standard funeral Mass has wine present, pre-transubstantiation…..)

  72. Gareth@80:

    Point taken — but I think my grandmother would like a wee chat. (If you time your duck and weave right, that wooden spoon she’s waggling in our general direction shouldn’t do any permanent damage.) :)

  73. Craig Ranapia, #72 quoth:

    I’m a Catholic and Maori — the idea of having alcohol in the presence of the body is deeply offensive in those contexts.

    Apologies in advance if this is the wrong thread for it, but I am quite interested in these differences in religious practice. I was raised a Catholic too, of the Irish working-class kind, and the Wake – body laid out in the room, drinks and stories and remembrances which can get both ribald and rowdy – was at least as important a ceremony as the Rosary when someone died. Is NZ Catholicism more … English, for want of a better word? Or is it an interplay of Catholicism and Maori culture which makes alcohol inappropriate? Or are we bog-trotting Irish descendants lowering the tone, again?

    In that context, while the cheering struck me as unusual, I figured it was an American thing. As to Mr Obama’s speech, it was of his usual high standard – I’m sorry his political practice seems to be of the pragmatic, back-room kind, because if he were more often a rhetorician, he’d be a lot more popular. As it is, he has to settle for getting things done. And I suspect the choking up was genuine – he’s the father of two daughters himself; how could he not empathise?

  74. My Name@43 good point, but I would rather still the conversation changed, as I’ve noted in an addendum to my original post:

    It is perfectly OK (and unavoidable) that each of us have our own opinions and beliefs. What seems to be causing all the problems is that many of us have forgotten (or choose to overlook) the obviously debilitating and impossibly polarizing effect of confusing those opinions and beliefs with “facts” and “truth”. Can’t we just drop our overwhelming need to be “right” and just sit down as intelligent human beings and have a conversation that works toward finding some common ground? Our very existence may depend on it!!

  75. Good speech, very positive overall. Was a bit disgusted with the screaming ‘fans’, it’s a memorial service, dammit!

  76. I’m a little surprised at the censure of the audience. People mourn in different ways. This was a memorial service that was held near a college campus. I’ve been to my share of funerals, often for faiths and cultures far different than my own. Some cultures have rowdy funerals. The Irish are not the only ones who celebrate the deceased’s life with a wake (party). It’s not uncommon in many cultures. And the crowd appeared to not only be celebrating the life of the deceased, but invoking the ability of the deceased to guide us in the future to be better human beings. For a lot of rowdy young folks, the *correct* response is [F-obscenity] YEAH!.

    There are two basic categories of responses to death (or a multitude, but for purposes of this illustration, two). 1) Responses that bring people together, and 2) responses that tear people apart. The President’s speech in Tucson appears to have been the former, and that was illustrated not only by the response of the crowd, but by the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the public at large. Ms. Palin’s response was the second sort, and to be fair, a human and common sort, where when a person or person dies, those left behind concentrate on their own needs and wants, often left unmet by the passing.

    I have been to funerals where people solemnly file past the body and bow their heads and cry, and at least one funeral where “Free Bird” by Lynrd Skynrd blared from speakers and through the tears the friends and families were grinning, imagining the friend who’d passed enjoying the show. Both are legitimate expressions of grief. Second guessing the crowd at Tucson just doesn’t strike me as productive.

  77. I’m a little surprised at the censure of the audience. People mourn in different ways.

    Yeah. Have some respect, DAMMIT!

  78. A couple of observations;

    1) YoYo@multiple posts; You are either a person whose political prejudices are so deep that they cannot see genuine compassion when it shows. Or, you are so deeply cynical that you cannot believe that any act by a politician, with whom you disagree, is anything other than self-serving. Either conclusion or both engender nothing but pity in me.

    2) Sarah Palin was not in any way responsible for Jared Loughlin’s insane act. Palin is a silly, ignorant woman. The tragedy of Palin is not the woman herself. Rather, it is the fact that there are enough people who like and believe her that she has to be taken seriously as a potential candidate for the presidency.

    I thought the speech was superb and the audience’s reactions to it perfectly appropriate.

  79. Just speaking as someone who is probably older than most of you, and, therefore, closer to the “death thingy”, the absolute LAST thing I want at my funeral services (or memorials) is a bunch of crying, sobbing, guilt trips and pious, mournful gesturing… I WANNA DAMN PARTY!! Go ahead and celebrate… I’m gone and you’re still here dealing with all this crapola. Feel sorry for yourself, if you want to, but don’t worry about me. If I see anyone doing any of the afore-mentioned activities, I’ll form a hand of my ashes and bitch-slap every one of them…

    Of course, some of you might be offended because this doesn’t appeal to your sensibilities, but, hey, it is MY funeral… can I have it my way?

  80. @ #88 Frank –
    Darn tootin’. With dancing girls and a champagne fountain.

    My grandmother used to say that people who cried at wakes “were just feelin’ sorry for themselves”–which in her view was rude–and she wouldn’t have it.

  81. Frank @88 Yes, that.
    I’m signed up as an organ donor since I figure when the driver is gone, you should part out the rest of the car before any of the usable stuff rusts.
    Cremate the rest and toss it out of a plane on the west side of the Cascades so I can see the Puget Sound and I’ll be just fine…

    Back on track.
    The speech hit the right mix for me.
    The haters can stop now.

  82. I have just decided that I want my friends to make dice out of my bones and play a 36 hour marathon session of D&D with them when I go. Every odd role of the dice gets to be an expression of my will one last time.

    And then, for God’s sake, put the dice away somewhere – leave my damn bones alone after the session!

  83. While some people excel at their jobs, I find most people are content with an average performance, that most put in the minimum effort required to get by. I have no reason to imagine that the same is not true in the world of politics, of the media and of punditry. I don’t expect people to actually “think” before they speak, rather, I expect that, like most amateur bloggers, they will reach for what is easiest and most obvious. That’s why I wasn’t at all surprised when, after OKC, people initially leaped to the assumption that a Muslim terrorist must have been involved, and why, in Tucson, people connected the dots from rifle sites on a web site, talk of “second amendment remedies” and leaped to the conclusion that it could have been a possible motive. No, it turned out not it have a direct connection. But was it unreasonable or unexpected that people went there?

    I sincerely hope that good comes out of this tragedy, that someone has the courage to suggest that rather than leap to conclusions, maybe it’s a good idea to have just a little patience, gather a little more information and then carefully consider a response before speaking. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I know I would be a lot happier waiting for facts than watching and listening to 24/7 news employees guessing and offering baseless and pointless blather, struggling desperately to fill time when there is nothing to report.

    When I took journalism classes back in high school (admittedly, 30 years ago) I was told that there were certain rules that were sacred. One was no editorializing: the reporter tells the who, what, where, how and when. They don’t guess about why or offer opinions of any kind. Another was that the reporter is NEVER part of the story. Another was that you got at least two sources before you said or wrote *anything*. Guess the rules have all changed. Pity.

  84. I just watched the speech on Youtube. It sounded like a football game and at times the President looked a little frustrated with the cheering.

    What I like about Obama, whenever I see him on TV, I don’t feel like I’m watching a politician, but rather a man who is as much an every day Joe as the rest of us. But that’s just my prospection.

  85. Catching up on the discussion here. Sorry I didn’t insert this into my first comment.

    I’m among those who found the cheering crowd unnerving, but not to the degree where I’d say it was unacceptable. I don’t think all those people were necessarily mourners, but rather they were showing their support. A funeral doesn’t have to be gloomy, but depending on the circumstances, some are. Six people were murdered, one of them was a nine year old girl. All of them were unexpectedly taken from the lives of the people who loved them. None of these people are the mood for a party, some of them are probably still trying to come to terms with it all.

    I’m sure they appreciate the support from the crowd, but I think some of them may have found the cheering more than a little jarring.

  86. I was a bit taken aback by the clapping and cheering during the speech – you can’t hold the President responsible for that, can you? (apparently you can try) On the other hand, when I decided to to look at it as the only way people could find to express their agreement with what he was saying, I viewed it as the physical equivalent of the :”LIKE” button on Facebook. I guess it had a lot to do with the relative youth of the crowd. I hope that the families of the victims and survivors accepted it in that spirit. All in all, I thought it was an excellent speech.

    Let’s also remember that this was a memorial and not a funeral. I think all would agree that clapping and cheering at funerals would be frowned upon and inappropriate (as a five year old, I found out the hard way.) The atmosphere at most memorials I’ve ever attended has been more celebratory of the life now lost than a mourning for the loss. I believe there is a great healing that occurs in both states.

    Lastly, that the president chose to dwell on Christina and choke up during the time he talked about her should not be surprising to any parent. At times like this ALL children become OUR children and the president, first and foremost, is a father. And the father of a 9-year-old to boot. To suggest that his show of emotion was fake is just disgusting and low.

  87. I think the clapping and cheering was probably bloody good catharsis for a lot of people with a huge amount of wonked emotional overload which would have been bloody hard to parse “normally”. When friends or family die of illness or accident, you can have a bit of a drink and a bit of a blub and it passes eventually. It’s shitty, but it’s also part of the “normal” course of events. With something like this, it’s got to be a lot harder to try to fit it into the framework of one’s life; even a messy car accident is “normal” in this modern world, and there’s a structure there to cope with it. Sick-minded people are not “normal fatalities”, so I’m happy that the people in Tucson had a chance to let it out a bit. Good for them. And pooh-pooh to everyone who’s got the stones to criticise ‘em! Really, you’re calling for “decorum” from your high horses and telling them off for their behaviour is way, way shabbier than them trying to shake out some of the horror of the week. Tsk, I say. Tsk.

    As to the speech itself – bit windy, but who am I to talk? It’s always nice, in our modern world, to hear a speech using existing words used properly. It’s a bit shameful that such a criterion is no longer taken for granted, but it’s hard to refudiate that a lot of people who allegedly communicate for a living misunderestimate the need to word proper goodly.

  88. Rob, I’m sorry you felt that way. Coming at me cold, I’d have probably been a bit wutuffy myself if I’d been there, but at least you were, you know, *THERE* (from your comment) so at least that’s genuine unnervedness. Not sitting in one’s armchair waving one’s pipestem. And I smoke a pipe sometimes, I know how damned supercillious it can seem. I practise it.

  89. No, I wasn’t there, I was sitting at my desk. But I still thought it was pretty freaky. Not that I hold anything against the people who were cheering, but I thought it was a little off for a memoir service.

  90. Vian@82:
    Or are we bog-trotting Irish descendants lowering the tone, again?

    God, I hope so or there’s no excuse for me at all. :) We don’t really do full-dress Irish wakes in my family, but damn I’ve been to a few after-funerals where the tales told would have made the devil blush. Even worse, one or two of them might even be true upon sober investigation.

    What I actually did was turn my own experience into a ludicrous generalisation. Because, of course, hundreds of millions of human beings across the face of the Earth are exactly like me and mine because we share a religion. Silly bunny. :(

    But in Maori culture, there are incredibly strict protocols and taboos around tangihanga (http://www.korero.maori.nz/forlearners/protocols/tangi.html). Eating or drinking (let alone drinking alcohol) in the same room as a dead person would be considered not only disrespectful to the diseased, but a very deep insult (and even spiritually dangerous) to the hosts.

  91. @Craig and Vian: Polish wakes are basically large keggers with polka and they’re mainly catholic as well. Same with an Italian wake(but with less alcohol and more food, the men still can get drunk though).

  92. @Frank in #88: Word. (I’m probably about the same age as you, BTW ;)

    As for my body ? Let the medical field use what they can and cremate the rest. Then use the ashes as raw material in a matter transmutation device (à la Star Trek) and make Salma Hayek a flimsy negligee out of it…

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