Thursday, January 13, 2011

Part Pastor, Part Professor, All President

Whatever Barack Obama tells us about the State of the Union on January 25th, he showed us its heart in Tuscon last night.

He came there to lead a nation in grieving, parse the meaning of a tragedy and, above all, give hope to a shocked and divided people. In doing so, he reminded those who truly listened of what they saw in him two years ago.

Despite the crowd's distracting need to cheer and applaud, the occasion was a solemn homage to those who died, a tribute to those who helped limit the carnage and a call for unity going forward.

"Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame," the President urged, "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...

"So sudden loss causes us to look backward-–but it also forces us to look forward; to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us."

If the President were looking for a springboard for his message of hope and healing, he couldn't have asked for anything better than Sarah Palin's pathetic attempt to upstage him.

Her use of the term "blood libel" to defend her own bloody rhetoric, whether out of ignorance about its meaning in anti-Semitic lore or coded cunning to provoke her "Christian" base, was divisive compared to Obama's plea for understanding and unity. Based on the record, ignorance is the more likely choice.

But ignorance is not a quality the nation needs in a President, especially in a time of such turmoil.

Barack Obama gave us intelligence tonight, coupled with feeling.

"Gabby opened her eyes," he told the crowd. "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."

As was the President there for us all.


Fuzzy Slippers said...

His speech was really good, and I particularly liked the part where he cautioned against blaming political rhetoric for the tragedy. I'd like to see this "post-partisan" president far more often.

Yellow Dog Don said...

I bet you wrote November 25th to see if we are paying attention, but the first State of the Union Speech this year will be on January 25th.

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Mr. Stein - “Her use of the term "blood libel" to defend her own bloody rhetoric (…) was divisive compared to Obama's plea for understanding and unity.

Having lost ancestors in the Holocaust, I was livid upon learning of Palin’s statement. More than merely ignorant, she is cynical, petty, shamelessly self-serving, and malevolent.

There is no symmetry of free speech between two persons when one is armed and the other unarmed. When citizens brandish guns at town hall meetings, or employ the symbolism of guns in their rhetoric, or imply ‘Second Amendment remedies’ as an alternative to civil discourse, then the purpose is to browbeat, coerce, and threaten the safety of all who oppose them. The impulse behind such rhetoric is to win by any means necessary and win at all cost. Of course, no one wins; everyone loses.

Mr. Stein - “ Based on the record, ignorance is the more likely choice.

Agreed. And based on the record, this has been the raison d'ĂȘtre behind the tea party movement, which started as an astroturfing tactic to up the ante on rhetoric and overawe the HCR debate.

Furthermore, I see little prospect for improvement when bloggers adopt these tactics in their weblogs and insert offensively racist images like this one, as the first commenter here has done.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

@Octopus, I'm flattered that you took the time to visit my blog. I do hope that you also took the time to watch the Bill Whittle video linked there (click on the LOL link in the sidebar); this will give you full understanding of the image's placement on my page. Enjoy!

Oh, and I'm suddenly finding your continued silly vapid attacks on me highly amusing. How fun that my mere presence on this blog has gotten under skin like this!

Be sure to read through my archives, too, you'll find all sorts of fun things to comment on . . . on Mr. Stein's blog. I'm sure he won't mind your catty cowardice and using his blog to attack the content of my page (indeed, I suspect he's just as amused as I am).