Thursday, January 13, 2011

Two years late, we had a president

Fully mindful that the glow will not last and that the current administration will not ultimately pass up an opportunity to exploit a tragedy for political gain, I have to give Barack Obama a hand for his speech in Tucson. For the first time, he actually sounded presidential.

He could have been his usual partisan self and openly played to his base. But instead he struck a middle tone, telling Americans to resist the urge to cast blame for the shooting that killed 6 and injured at least 13, including a congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords.

Too bad no one told the audience this was a memorial service, not a pep rally. Or for that matter, the organizers who dubbed the event "Together We Thrive" and sold T-shirts. From the rambling Native American blessing to the bubbly student body president, the memorial came dangerously close to becoming a campaign rally, a la the Paul Wellstone fiasco years ago. But the worst came from the audience, which applauded at the most inappropriate times, to the obvious irritation of the family members of the deceased.

President Obama was pitch-perfect last night. It was the audience that was offensive. Maybe instead of civility, this country just needs a lesson in manners.

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