I thought that others might be interested in some of the reactions to President Obama's speech tonight.
Let me begin with this tweet by Glenn Beck:
Friends tell me I will praise Obama tomorrow. Many hardcore friends say he was "their President" tonight.Wow.Good for him!I'll watch in AM.
No comment on this...
Next, I want to share the words of 11 year old Ade Santana who is quoted in the Arizona Republic:
Ade Santana, an 11-year-old Tucson resident, said she felt that she had to come to ease the sadness and grief she's felt since Saturday's shooting.
"In the sorrow, sadness . . . even anger I've been feeling, this is where I needed to be," Santana said. "This (shooting) has put Tucson in a very negative light, and this is what we needed to heal ourselves and our community."
What incredible eloquence... Out of the mouths of babes...
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/...
From David Corn:
President Barack Obama's speech in Tucson was undeniably a high moment of his presidency. But you can judge that for yourself. (As the father of a nine-year-old daughter, I could not imagine delivering such an address—and keeping it together.) The initial reviews—even among pundits on the right—appeared overwhelmingly positive, proving that most of us can live in a shared reality. But here's what to look for in the coming days: how the die-hard Obama-haters will behave. Since the campaign, this gang has argued one or more of these variants: Obama is anti-America, Obama wants to wreck the economy, Obama wants to weaken America, Obama hates liberty and freedom, Obama is a socialist, Obama is a communist, Obama is not truly (and literally) an American, Obama is a secret Muslim. After this speech, will they be able to make such claims? (Rush Limbaugh, I am indeed talking about you.)
From Joan Walsh:
The president's speech was appropriately personal and moving, describing all of those who died, with vivid individual details, as well as the people who risked their lives saving the wounded. But he wrapped the speech around nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, and as the father of two young girls, Obama made that move feel more than rhetorical. Michelle Obama, often struggling with tears early in the event, wept openly as he discussed the child who wanted to be the first woman to play Major League Baseball (fittingly, as the granddaughter of managerial legend Dallas Green), who often remarked to her mother, "We have the best life," who was just elected to student council, and who went out to see her local congresswoman, "who might have been a role model." Giffords's "Congress on the Corner" outside Safeway last Saturday "was just an updated version of 'government by and of and for the people," Obama said. "That quintessentially American scene, that was the scene that was shattered by a gunman's bullets."
From Gail Collins:
Maybe President Obama was saving the magic for a time when we really needed it.
We’ve been complaining for two years about the lack of music and passion in his big speeches. But if he’d moved the country when he was talking about health care or bailing out the auto industry, perhaps his words wouldn’t have been as powerful as they were when he was trying to lift the country up after the tragedy in Tucson.
"Our hearts are broken, and yet our hearts also have reason for fullness," he said, in a call to action that finally moved the nation’s focus forward.
From Joe Klein:
It was a remarkably personal speech, effortlessly sweeping away any notion of pomposity, over-intellectuality or distance. It was written and delivered in plain English. It summoned images, and emotions, that every American--even those who cannot countenance his legitimacy--could relate to and be moved by. His description of the victims was at the heart of it: Judge Roll went to mass every day. George and Dot Morris had a 50-year honeymoon. Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard lost their teenaged love and then regained it many years later. Phyllis Schneck sat quilting under her favorite tree. We all know them--and we know people like Daniel Hernandez, big and loyal and kindly, who would have stopped a bullet to save his boss, but saved her instead by tending to her wounds and begging her to hold on. Their ordinary decency, simply evoked, made the tragedy our own. Their simple nobility beggared the absurd screech of the debate surrounding this terrible event. His appreciation of their humanity was an appeciation of our own.
From Michael Crowley:
These calls to our better angels--directed less at the secondary issue of public discourse and more at the first principles of what we value as a society and the nobility of public service--perfectly matched the heartbreaking occasion. All the better that Obama delivered these words with both lyrical eloquence and moral authority. It was certainly the finest rhetorical moment of his presidency--and perhaps of his life.
From Taegard Goddard:
President Obama gave one of his best speeches tonight -- one that was much more emotional and cathartic than anyone could expect. He rose above the bickering and finger pointing of the last few days and spoke to our higher values.
Most impressively, Obama walked a very delicate line of remembering the fallen while trying to draw broader lessons for the country. Referring to nine year old Christina Taylor Green, who was killed by the gunman last Saturday, Obama noted she "was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. 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."
From James Fallows:
The standard comparisons of the past four days have been to Ronald Reagan after the Challenger disaster and Bill Clinton after Oklahoma City. Tonight's speech matched those as a demonstration of "head of state" presence, and far exceeded them as oratory -- while being completely different in tone and nature. They, in retrospect, were mainly -- and effectively -- designed to note tragic loss. Obama turned this into a celebration -- of the people who were killed, of the values they lived by, and of the way their example could bring out the better in all of us and in our country.
That is to Obama's imaginative credit. (Even as the event began, I was wondering how he would find a way to match to somber tone of Reagan and Clinton.) More later, but a performance to remember -- this will be, along with his 2004 Convention speech and his March, 2008 "meaning of race" speech in Philadelphia, one of the speeches he is lastingly known for -- and to add to the list of daunting political/oratorical challenges Obama has not merely met but mastered.
From Marc Ambinder:
By using the youngest victim of last week's rampage as his focal point, Obama made her America's cause and asked the nation to live lives as compassionate and caring as those felled by the gunman's bullets. Without wading into the who-coarsened-our-culture debate, he overshadowed it with a call to the better angels of our nature.
From Andrew Sullivan:
To rate this address on any political meter would be to demean it. The president wrested free of politics tonight and spoke of greater things. I pledge myself to try and follow his advice and debate with vigor and spirit and candor and bluntness, but with more civility, more empathy, and, yes, more love.
From Jacob Heilbrunn:
President Obama's speech in Tucson will trigger much commentary, but in speaking many words, he really uttered the last one. There was a finality to Obama's speech, a lapidary effect that endowed it with humility and gravity. It would be hard to think of a more moving and dignified speech, particularly when set against the foil of Sarah Palin's creepy and self-absorbed effusions earlier today.
In essence, Obama returned to his earliest and most deeply felt theme, which is that optimism, not hatred, civility, not rancor, hope, not despair, should guide and elevate America, no matter how heated or turbulent political issues may become.
From Sam Stein:
It is when there is a human element to his presidency that Barack Obama tends to stand the tallest. And on Wednesday evening, as he spoke to 20,000-plus at a memorial service at the University of Arizona, there was, if nothing else, an emotional honesty to what he had to say.
To a nation looking for clarity, Obama didn't pretend to have all the answers. There is, he noted, a tendency to demand "order" from "chaos," to try and "make sense out of that which seems senseless." Life doesn't always comply.
From Eugene Robinson:
The most touching parts of the speech, for me, came near the end, when he talked about how families react on losing a parent or a spouse -- when he said that "in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame -- but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better."
From Jonathan Capehart:
In paying tribute to those who lost their lives and who were wounded on that awful Saturday, Obama, with the permission of Giffords's husband, Mark Kelly, delivered the blockbuster news that Giffords opened her eyes for the first time this afternoon. Then, rising to the occasion as adult in chief, Obama reflected on the debate roiling the nation for the last four days. And in doing so he soared above it.
From Stephen Stromberg:
As jarring as the applause was at times, Obama's words and demeanor were reasonable and beyond appropriate, the president smiling only as he described the heroism of those who wrestled the shooter to the ground. The speech is among the few things I've read or heard since Saturday about which I can say that, and all the more necessary after the grotesque "blood libel" rage that dominated the news most of Wednesday.
From Marc Thiessen:
In the first, Obama delivered a traditional memorial address, and did so with elegance and eloquence. He shined a light on the victims and the heroes and told their stories, which had been lost amid the shameful debate that erupted following the attack. In so doing, he gave voice to their courage and sacrifice -- and reclaimed the narrative of the day for them. "These men and women remind us that heroism is found not only on the fields of battle," Obama said. "They remind us that heroism does not require special training or physical strength. Heroism is here, all around us, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, just waiting to be summoned -- as it was on Saturday morning."
Then Thiessen goes off the deep end saying that Obama was rebuking the left... WHAT???? I am not quoting that.
From E.J. Dionne:
His address in Tucson was highly personal, rooted in the biographies of the victims and in scripture, more about the country as a family than about government. It was neither therapeutic nor political and dealt only in passing with the roiling controversies that have divided left from right.
He spoke movingly about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her struggle for life. But the figure at the center of the speech, to whom he came back again and again, was nine-year old Christina Taylor Green, "an A student, a dancer, a gymnast and a swimmer."
From Garance Franke-Ruta:
President Obama tonight in Arizona not only did what he needed to do, he did what the nation need him to do, which is to let its members -- like members of a dysfunctional family whose brittle cousins spent the last five days snapping at each other -- finally break down and feel, together, what they were really feeling, the full weight of awfulness of the national tragedy and crimes that were committed in Arizona.
And the value and values of the lives that were lost.
He began his speech, as he so often has begun speeches in the past, in a dry voice whose flat tone failed to fully communicate the import of the weighty words he spoke. And, then, toward the final third of his speech, his chin wobbled, his voice changed and he resonantly inhabited each word he relayed. He moved from professorial Obama to Obama the orator, the man who won America's vote and has too often been hidden of late behind the face of Barack Obama, worried head of state and hard-charging bureaucrat.
From Joshua Green:
My own impression is that he provided what had so far been missing from this tragedy: a response that dignified the memories of the victims and properly placed them at the forefront of public attention. The rousing, celebratory tenor of the remarks took me by surprise, though this did not seem the least bit inappropriate. Whether or not his speech will reorient the national conversation along healthier, more productive lines--whether people will heed his call to demonstrate "our good example"--is something that will become clear soon enough. But it's hard to think of a more compelling argument for why we ought to do so than the one he put forward: "Only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud."
From Trey Ellis:
Tonight in Tucson the president's strength, compassion and wisdom reminded us all of what we first saw in him, what can get lost in the day-to-day legislative sausage-making. More gray-haired and somber, he brilliantly and so presidentially rose above the clutter, the chatter. I keep thinking about his oft-repeated line, "our better angels," and today he inspired us all, on all sides, to really hear those words.
From Jill Lawrence:
The speech was inspirational in a way that held echoes of Abraham Lincoln's words in a far more desperate, polarized time. His first Inaugural Address in 1861, when he appealed to "the better angels of our nature" and urged his countrymen to "think calmly and well." The Gettysburg Address, when he said: "We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain."
As eloquent as he was, Obama did not neglect politics. It's all to the good, he said, that we've already begun a national conversation about the motivations behind the killings, the merits of gun safety laws and the adequacy of our mental health system. Then he beamed a series of messages to various points on the political spectrum.
From David Frum:
What a terrible assignment, especially for a father of young daughters. The president did the job he needed to do, struck the appropriate notes in the appropriate way. He conspicuously forbore to make political points, quite the contrary: he urged against finger-pointing, in this sense agreeing with Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh. "But what we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. "
The president’s challenge, as so often, was to make a human connection. In that, he succeeded tonight. He paid tribute to the individuality of the lost, honored the pain of the bereaved, and was crucial in bringing together the collective community acknowledgement of grief that is the only available comfort to those who mourn
From Eleanor Clift:
Barack Obama found his voice Wednesday night, the one the country fell in love with in ’08. Gone was the stiff, sober professor, and here was the president we’ve been yearning for, a man who understands the cadences of the heart along with the complexities of the tragedy that brought him to the stadium at the University of Arizona. The memorial service at times seemed more like a pep rally, and as the president invoked the lives of each of the fallen along with the many heroes that emerged from the shooting, smiles soon overtook the tears, and a spirit of unity and optimism took hold.
From Ari Berman:
Perhaps the most memorable part of the speech came when Obama disclosed that he’d just visited Gabrielle Giffords in the hospital and "Gabby opened her eyes for the first time." There were wild cheers inside the auditorium, accompanied by a stream of tears from those watching at home.
Update: OK I have to go to work now but Quinnipiac has a new poll out this morning that is very interesting. Here's the part that I wanted to highlight:
American voters say 46 – 30 percent that Obama has been a better president than George W. Bush, a larger margin than in November when they said so 43 – 37 percent. Voters also say 41 – 32 percent that the country would be worse off if McCain had won the 2008 election.
Great News for John McCain... Anyway if Americans did not say that President Obama has been a better president than Bush, I would have moved to Canada... Just kidding. Have a great day everyone!
Read more: http://thepage.time.com/...
Update 2: OK it's lunch time and I am adding a few more reactions:
From Steve Benen:
These are powerful words -- delivered by a man who happens to be the father of two young girls -- and there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
I know how easy it is to be cynical, and look back at 2008 and the use of the word "hope" as a shallow exercise, but listening to the president last night, I felt like this captured some of the magic of the more memorable Obama speeches. It was as uplifting as it was cathartic.
I suppose it's only natural to consider what the lasting effects might be, if any, in the wake of remarks like these. And as nice as it is to think Americans who heard the president's words will take his guidance to heart, I don't seriously expect the country to turn over a new, more thoughtful leaf.
But that almost certainly wasn't the point. Obama was there to honor the victims of a tragedy, bring some comfort to their families and their community, and to urge the country to strive for better. He did just that, delivering a graceful message when his country needed to hear one.
From The Guardian:
For the address he gave at last night's memorial service for the victims of the Arizona shootings was elegiac, heartfelt and deeply moving. It both rose to the moment and transcended it: after days of noise and rancour, he carved out a moment of calm.
Much of the speech was dedicated to its core function: to commemorate the dead and comfort those in mourning. He spoke in detail about those who had been slain, describing them one by one – the elderly couple who had lived life as if it were a "50-year honeymoon", the husband who shielded his wife from the bullets, dying so that she might live. Most affecting, he spoke of Christina Taylor Green, the nine-year-old girl born on 11 September 2001 – the president, doubtless thinking of his own daughters, seeming to brim with emotion, at one point emitting a noise somewhere between a sigh and a suppressed sob.
From PM Carpenter:
More graceful or appropriate comments were inconceivable. President Obama's memorial remarks were spiritual, touching, thoughtful, hopeful and manifestly heartfelt. Toward their conclusion my wife turned to me and said, rhetorically, "He's hitting a home run, isn't he." In unnecessary reply: He sure did.
From Steve Chapman:
His remarks at the memorial service in Tucson -- steeped in emotion, infused with wisdom, animated by a generous spirit -- were exactly what his shocked, grieving countrymen needed to hear. They were consoling, they were cathartic and they were inspiring.
The powerful address was also a reminder of the qualities that caused the citizenry to elect him in 2008. He rose to the occasion by eloquently invoking themes that dramatize our essential unity even in the face of events that have the potential to polarize. "Our hopes and dreams are bound together," he emphasized.
It was not his purpose to score political points. On the contrary, he gracefully absolved conservatives of the charge that their angry rhetoric was to blame for the massacre. He made it plain that this is one of those events too large for glib scapegoating.
But he also used the occasion as an opportunity for the sober, humble reflection that individuals and nations need to do every so often. He urged us to act according to the better angels of our nature. But more important, he provided an example of how it's done.