I don’t know how many people watched the Tuscon Memorial Service, but I thought Obama’s speech was probably the most effective one I’ve seen him give since he’s been President. His rhetorical device of calling for civil discourse, not because it caused this (he emphatically said, “it did not”), but in order to love up to the exepectaions and memory of the murdered little girl was brilliant.
Really, I thought the whole speech was masterful and engaging. Some of the applause breaks were a little weird at first, but they were apprpriate when he introduced the heroes at the scene and when he announced that Giffords had “opened her eyes for the first time.”
It’s been a while since I’ve seen Obama really knock one out of the park, and he did it tonight. I’m sure the right wing media will find something to fake outrage about (doubtless they’ll be seething over the applause breaks at least), but this really was one of his best efforts in a long time, and it wasn’t political.
Other thoughts? Good, bad, indifferent? Will it have any political effect at all?
My family and I attended, we just got back. We were among the thousands of Tucsonans there hoping for the President to help us mourn and heal. Our seats were in the nose-bleed section, almost the same ones as when I attended a women’s basketball game there recently.
But the president’s speech was good, and the thing I took home from it most is the idea of wanting our society to live up to the children’s expectations. My kids were bored and figity through most of it, but once the president started talking, then were enraptured.
I just got home and missed it. As for any political effect, I think there has already been a political effect - the Republicans have postponed action on repealing the health care bill. These kinds of thing tend to have short term effects. I think it’s likely that things will return to normal in Congress (i.e., polarized) within a few weeks.
I find annoying this idea of President as national priest or national counselor. What happened in Tuscon was a tragedy, but I don’t think it’s the President’s job to go around making people feel better.
I too find it annoying but that is the reality. Like the President of the US touring New Orleans after hurricane Katrina actually helps anything (indeed it probably detracts from the relief efforts as the focus shifts to the President being there).
Nevertheless that is the reality these days and I say this in a non-partisan way. It matters not who is in office, the public apparently needs to see them present at tragedies (a Obama would have toured New Orleans too if he were president then).
I did not see the speech but the reports I have seen so far have been pretty favorable.
I voted for the guy and he has pissed me off enormously but when it comes to speechifying no one has been as good in my lifetime. I’m not surprised he did a good job with this and given the tragedy that is a good thing.
I don’t know about making people feel better, but it does make a kind of sense that he would want to show up as a sort of ‘ultimate representative of America’ sort of deal, and once there it’s inevitable that he would speak and try to put some sense of closure or finality to the event so that the national spotlight could move on without people feeling too guilty about it doing so.
Looking back to other tragedies, Bush got burned for that single picture of him looking out the plane window at post-Katrina New Orleans - I don’t think anyone thought he should have been out there making people feel better, but I do think people thought he needed to BE THERE in person as a demonstration that the country as a whole, and that politicians in particular, hadn’t forgotten the area in their own localized (local as in non-whole-country) tragedy.
I see this as a similar idea.
On an unrelated and slightly more cynical note, it’s also good PR for any president to have a mid-season excuse/reason to make a very heartwarming and non-political speech at a time when lots of people are finding it very easy to blame him personally for everything that’s wrong with the country.
Well, I don’t know, it’s one of those things that’s just part of the job. It certainly could have sounded strained, but to me it was one of the better speeches of this type I’ve ever heard, and his willingness to put some effort into it was highly apparent. Hit pretty much just the right note, methinks.
Re: the applause: all through the ceremony, pretty much every mention of Arizona U got a five-minute ovation. That got a bit annoying.
As Brian Williams (I think?) pointed out on whatever channel I was watching, this isn’t new. For better or worse, this has been a part of the President’s job for decades now. In this case, with this President, I think it’s a good one. Like his policies or not, the man is a phenomenal public speaker.
He’s an extremely good speaker. Like, one of the best that I’m even aware of. I can’t possibly think of anybody, even a professional actor, who could have delivered that speech better. I can see why you people hired him.
You must be unfamiliar with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his fireside chats designed to provide succor to the American public. Obama certainly isn’t the first president to try to make people feel better.