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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Obama's Good Speech at Memorial Service for the Victims of the Shooting in Tucson, Arizona

The White House site has posted the speech that Barack Obama gave at the Memorial Service for the Victims of the Shooting in Tucson, Arizona.

I listened to the speech as well as watching the Memorial.

Those who read this blog regularly know I am not a huge fan of Barack Obama nor his politics, but kudos where they are deserved, the speech was good and Obama delivered it wonderfully.

Pointing out the acts of heroism on the tragic day when Jared Lee Loughner took his gun and shot 19 people, killing six and leaving an Arizona Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, in critical condition after being shot in the head.

Quoting scripture and detailing the lives of the six people slaughtered that day.

It was a good speech and by virtue of reading it regardless of whether speech writers wrote it, it was Barack Obama's speech and in it he addressed a very controversial issue that has dominated the airwaves, media and blogosphere across the country.

Immediately after the shooting, pundits from the far left were irresponsibly accusing political rhetoric from the right as being to "blame" for Loughner's actions, without any evidence supporting that theory and to date, still no evidence has come to light supporting that stance.

The far left exploited the Arizona massacre for sheer political fodder and Obama's speech touched that point in a very mild but clear manner.

As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let’s use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy and remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together. (Applause.)


The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better. To be better in our private lives, to be better friends and neighbors and coworkers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy -- it did not -- but rather because 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. (Applause.)

Obama walked a fine line there between a president that needed to address the controversial issue in a manner respectful to the families and victims and a politician up for reelection in 2012 and he walked the line and did it well with this speech.

Obama also put the blame right where it belonged, on Loughner.

Facts that have come out about Loughner has shown a disturbed individual with a grudge against Gifford after another meet and greet in 2007 when he asked a question and her answer did not satisfy him.

Facts show 22 year old Loughner was a registered Independent who did not vote in the 2010 midterms. Troubled at school making outbursts and other students expressed fear of him. His reading material was varied but witness accounts say he did not watch the news, listen to talk radio or otherwise participate in political activism.

Obama's speech also allowed him to report previously unreported news. Gabrielle Gifford opened her eyes for the first time.

I have just come from the University Medical Center, just a mile from here, where our friend Gabby courageously fights to recover even as we speak. And I want to tell you -- her husband Mark is here and he allows me to share this with you -- right after we went to visit, a few minutes after we left her room and some of her colleagues in Congress were in the room, Gabby opened her eyes for the first time. (Applause.) Gabby opened her eyes for the first time. (Applause.)

Gabby opened her eyes. Gabby opened her eyes, so I can tell you she knows we are here. She knows we love her. And she knows that we are rooting for her through what is undoubtedly going to be a difficult journey. We are there for her. (Applause.)

To that end, Top of the Ticket has posted the witness accounts of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who were both present at the time.

SENATOR GILLIBRAND ......And then you have to recognize, her eyes hadn’t opened -- we didn’t know that -- and so she started to struggle. And one of her eyes is covered with a bandage because it was damaged in the gunfire. So her eye is flickering. And Mark sees this and gets extremely excited. And we didn’t -- I didn’t know what that meant.

And so he said, Gabby, open your eyes, open your eyes. And he’s really urging her forward. And the doctor is like perking up and everyone is coming around the bed. And she’s struggling and she’s struggling and it’s a good -- we couldn’t figure it out, maybe 30 seconds, where she’s really trying to get her eyes open, like doing this, this, this.

And then she finally opens her eyes and you could she was like desperately trying to focus and it took enormous strength from her. And Mark could just -- can’t believe it. I mean, he’s so happy. And we’re crying because we’re witnessing something that we never imagined would happen in front of us.

And so Mark says, he says -- he said, Gabby, if you can see me, give us the thumbs up, give us the thumbs up. And so we’re waiting and we’re waiting and --


SENATOR GILLIBRAND: And we just thought, okay -- and you could watch -- when you’re watching her eyes, she’s really trying to focus. Like you could see she hadn’t opened her eyes in days. And then instead of giving the thumbs up, she literally raises her whole arm like this -- like this. It was unbelievable. And then she reaches out and starts grabbing Mark and is touching him and starts to nearly choke him -- she was clearly trying to hug him.

And so like -- she was -- it was such a moment. And we were just in tears of joy watching this and beyond ourselves, honestly. And then Mark said, you know, touch my ring, touch my ring. And she touches his ring and then she grabs his whole watch and wrist. And then the doctor was just so excited. He said, you don’t understand, this is amazing, what’s she’s doing right now, and beyond our greatest hopes.

The road to recovery will no doubt be long and arduous but there is also no doubt at this point that Giffords is fighting to recover and early signs are good, better than even doctors had hoped for.

Will there be civility in political discourse after this tragedy? No. There has never been true civility in politics and perhaps never will be when two sides with a massive gulf between their political ideology fight for the agenda they believe is best for America.

In Palin's video statement after the far left viciously attacked her and attempted to hold her responsible for a madman's actions, and idea that polling shows the majority of the American public has rejected, she made a statement that asks a question that has been ignored in attempts to use other parts of her speech against her. (Previous post with video and transcript at this URL)

There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure.

Good question. When has political debate, especially during a contentious election not been heated?

Can anyone name one election year that has been completely civil?

It seems the two speeches mentioned, Obama's and Palin's, both individuals coming from opposite ends of the political spectrum, have found an area of total agreement.

Loughner shot down innocent people and he is to blame for his actions.

Metaphors did not kill those six people and injure those others. Guns do not pull their own triggers. Men and women are responsible for the acts of violence they commit.

Democrat, Republican or Independent, a criminal, a murderer who self identifies and any one of those, does not represent the party as a whole. Just as one deranged individual will never, ever represent our society as a whole, no matter what they do or what reason the claim they did it for.