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I believe we can be better.
January 12, 2011 6:43 PM   Subscribe

I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. Barack Obama speaks in Tucson, Arizona.
posted by gerryblog (262 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite

 
He hit it out of the park.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:50 PM on January 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Obama did more than make a comforting speech; he made us feel good. After this weekend, that's a welcome change. Tucson needed this.
posted by azpenguin at 6:50 PM on January 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


just reading his speech brought a tear to my eye.
posted by gryftir at 6:53 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Obama I remember is back.
posted by francesca too at 6:54 PM on January 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


That was a hell of a speech. Very, very well done.
posted by zarq at 6:55 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Republican from North Carolina, calling into C-Span: "The scales dropped from my eyes tonight - (of President Obama). I rate him highly. He really said some things tonight that hit my heart."
posted by cashman at 6:56 PM on January 12, 2011 [34 favorites]


He took the high road. Like he always does. So let's just keep our fingers crossed for a while and try, for once, not to spoil the moment with a bunch of petty snarking.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:56 PM on January 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


This is also being discussed in the original thread about this event.
posted by HuronBob at 6:57 PM on January 12, 2011


Lady went from being reported dead to opening her eyes in less than a week? Tough cookie, that lady.
posted by vrakatar at 6:57 PM on January 12, 2011 [36 favorites]


Wow, that was moving and mature and healing. Everything that 90% of what's been said in the last week wasn't.
posted by octothorpe at 6:59 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fantastic speech. This feeling of hope may not last, but I'll take it today.
posted by dig_duggler at 7:01 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


aha! now i see. it seems so obvious now.

I could go either way on this one myself. The speech was a legitimate news event in its own right, and the other thread is, like, 3000 comments long already.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:01 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Beautiful speech. I'll admit it. I cried.
posted by katillathehun at 7:01 PM on January 12, 2011


ItiwobIuyp...
posted by iamck at 7:03 PM on January 12, 2011


Sarah Palin just attacked Obama's speech for ignoring the real issue -- the scurrilous attack on her by America-hating liberals.
posted by msalt at 7:03 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


He sure orated the heck out of that one.

Now, what are we doing tomorrow?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:04 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


HuronBob: "This is also being discussed in the original thread about this event."

...which is now well over 2,000 comments long. Time for a new thread.

cashman: "Republican from North Carolina, calling into C-Span: "The scales dropped from my eyes tonight - (of President Obama). I rate him highly. He really said some things tonight that hit my heart.""

The reaction from conservative circles was surprisingly positive.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:04 PM on January 12, 2011


Er, surprisingly positive.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:05 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The speech was a legitimate news event in its own right, and the other thread is, like, 3000 comments long already.

That was my thinking in a nutshell. It's also, for what it's worth, in keeping with the speech's call for a new and different sort of conversation than the one that's been happening in that thread.

I tried to keep the post minimal to avoid an immediate backlash, but that seems to have produced only a different sort of nagpfmist backlash. But the speech seemed worthy of a post to me, particularly the closing moments from which I quote. I think the call to create a country as good as the one Christina Taylor Green imagined will stay with us a long time; I certainly hope so.
posted by gerryblog at 7:07 PM on January 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


Here's to the sincere hope that we can put the vitriol and the finger pointing and the other bullshit behind us.
posted by crunchland at 7:07 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


That speech was of a completely different order than "those who are not with us are against us", wouldn't you say?
posted by orange swan at 7:09 PM on January 12, 2011 [12 favorites]


A presidential speech concerning what is considered by many a national tragedy is not a good post? Yeah... pull the other one it's got bells on.
posted by edgeways at 7:09 PM on January 12, 2011


Obama at his best reminds me of Bobby Kennedy. I can hear that here tonight.
posted by jonmc at 7:09 PM on January 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


well, the rifleman's stalking the sick and the lame
preacherman seeks the same, who'll get there first is uncertain
nightsticks and water cannons, tear gas, padlocks
molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain
false hearted judges dying in the webs that they spin
only a matter of time til night comes steppin in

jokerman dance to the nightingale tune bird fly high by the light of the moon
oh, oh, oh, jokerman ......bob dylan
posted by kitchenrat at 7:09 PM on January 12, 2011


Sarah Palin just attacked Obama's speech for ignoring the real issue -- the scurrilous attack on her by America-hating liberals.

Wait, what? I assume this is a bad joke. Not that it's entirely unexpected given her Facebook/Vimeo stunt, but I still think that would be beyond the pale even for her.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:12 PM on January 12, 2011


Unless Obama gives a speech announcing his resignation, I'm uninterested in what he's got to say.
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:12 PM on January 12, 2011


It was a good speech, but I still want him to smack the crap out the Republicans.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:12 PM on January 12, 2011 [13 favorites]


For what it's worth, it looks like the discussion of the speech in the other thread begins here.
posted by gerryblog at 7:12 PM on January 12, 2011


Let's not assign blame, anyone.

That wouldn't be nice.

Let's look forward, not backward.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:15 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unless Obama gives a speech announcing his resignation, I'm uninterested in what he's got to say.

Informed citizenship ftw.
posted by griphus at 7:16 PM on January 12, 2011 [29 favorites]


> Unless Obama gives a speech announcing his resignation, I'm uninterested in what he's got to say.

What if he wanted to tell you he likes it when you smile?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:17 PM on January 12, 2011 [58 favorites]


Gosh, Obabama can give an amazing speech when it's needed. I, for one, needed it.
posted by helmutdog at 7:18 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I read the transcript, and all this speech did was remind me of how Obama squandered the first 2 years of his Presidency with majorities in both the House and Senate trying to negotiate with people who weren't interested in negotiating, and did all they could to stall and subvert the will of the people. Blame needs to be placed. Both sides are not equal. The idea that we need national unity to make progress is nonsense that flies in the face of all political history. I look really enviously at parliamentarian systems right now. I don't want Obama to be a fighter for national unity. I want him to be a fighter for the underprivileged and a fighter against inequality and corruption.
posted by PigAlien at 7:21 PM on January 12, 2011 [56 favorites]


"Gabby opened her eyes" has a much nicer ring than "Blood libel."

That woman could have been our Vice President.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:22 PM on January 12, 2011 [18 favorites]


Unless Obama gives a speech announcing his resignation, I'm uninterested in what he's got to say.

Dismissive, delusional, callous, inconsiderate and willfully ignorant in one sentence!
posted by cjorgensen at 7:23 PM on January 12, 2011 [54 favorites]


Wow, the comments on that website are so deranged. I hope political discourse here never gets so debased.
posted by smoke at 7:25 PM on January 12, 2011


That's no way to go through life, son.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:26 PM on January 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'd like to apologize for not sticking to the FIAMO rule, and for injecting a silly acronym into the conversation for people to muse over. It wasn't a good thing to do, and I'm sorry to have done it.
posted by boo_radley at 7:26 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


(by here I mean Australia, though on reflection I hope that holds true for mefi too!)
posted by smoke at 7:26 PM on January 12, 2011


I read the transcript, and all this speech did was remind me of how Obama squandered the first 2 years of his Presidency...

Breathe. Deep breaths, deep breaths. That's it, let it go, move on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:27 PM on January 12, 2011


If all you've done is read the transcript, you missed the most moving part of the speech, which came in his unprepared remarks about Giffords progress. Video here.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:28 PM on January 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


What if he wanted to tell you he likes it when you smile?
posted by Burhanistan


The only smile he'd get out of me would be with that resignation. But I guess I can just look forward to him not being re-elected.
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:28 PM on January 12, 2011


I want him to be a fighter for the underprivileged and a fighter against inequality and corruption.

Such a poltician/statesman is almost non-existent and totally unelectable in the USofA today (and has been for some time). Barack Obama is the closest we've come since Jimmy Carter (and you know what happened when he decided to be truthful instead of uplifting).

The gentle words seem to have knocked the raging Right Wing beast down a notch and made the Palinesque approach look even worse than usual, so that's a plus.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:28 PM on January 12, 2011 [24 favorites]



Republican from North Carolina, calling into C-Span: "The scales dropped from my eyes tonight - (of President Obama). I rate him highly. He really said some things tonight that hit my heart.

Does anyone know who? I'm curious.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:29 PM on January 12, 2011


trolls will be trolls and feeding them will only end with poop on your carpet.

so, as an effort to chage the narrative a little bit - metafilter, what was your favorite part of the speech?
posted by nadawi at 7:29 PM on January 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


> I don't want Obama to be a fighter for national unity.

I don't disagree with that, but I don't agree with it either. Obama demonstrated what it could mean to actually be a leader of this country. Anyone with enough determination can be a bullish policy wonk and pursue an agenda, and certainly Obama needs to wear that hat and hire lots of people to do the same. But, a real leader of people, if we still need such quaint things, is able to hold that space of commonality and strength that can include everyone, and serve as a touchstone to a culture. It takes a lot more than just being smart or well-connected to exude that.

I'm not giving Obama a pass, mind you. I'm just observing that leadership is more than just fighting for a agenda or ideal, and can have a real inspiration on us that touches us in unexpectedly good ways.

And then of course we have the next day the same set of circumstances that brought us here, but by dint of him being the focal point of the nation, a shared direction can emerge.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:29 PM on January 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Unless Obama gives a speech announcing his resignation, I'm uninterested in what he's got to say.

Oh. You're one of those guys.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:30 PM on January 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


And the acronym should be appropriately capitalized as NaGPfM, possibly NaGPfMF or even NaGPfMeFi to be more easily deciphered.

Still, it seems to be turning into a NaBPfMF, so you never know.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:30 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Taking nothing away from this solemn occasion, yeah, Bobby (and Jack) gave much prettier speeches than Lyndon, but LBJ got nation-changing legislation passed.

Barack Oabam is truly amazing at giving speeches, at making us well up with emotion, and at (temporarily) bringing us together as a nation. And yet, so far, pretty "meh" at delivering substantial and lasting change.

(Yes, we'll never know what might have happened with "that bitch of a war" if Bobby hadn't been gunned down. I'm not disparaging Bobby or Jack or Barack or any other orator -- just pointing out that great speeches, alone, don't get people Social Security payments or the right to sit at the counter of the Woolworths in Greensboro, North Carolina.)
posted by orthogonality at 7:31 PM on January 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


all this speech did was remind me of how Obama squandered the first 2 years of his Presidency --- You can choose to believe that narrative, or this one.
posted by crunchland at 7:31 PM on January 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


> metafilter, what was your favorite part of the speech?

Less his words and more the genuine outpouring from the thousands of people in the hall. Really touching.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:31 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, PigAlien, while I respect what you want from the President, he's not your personal assistant. There are millions of other people in the US with their own lists of things they'd like the President to be, and not only aren't all those lists identical to your own, but in some cases they even directly conflict with it. And not all of those people with conflicting lists are evil. Some of them may be, but my guess is not even most of them are. So there's that to consider.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:33 PM on January 12, 2011 [15 favorites]


...all this speech did was remind me of how Obama squandered the first 2 years of his Presidency with majorities in both the House and Senate trying to negotiate with people who weren't interested in negotiating, and did all they could to stall and subvert the will of the people.

I'm genuinely sorry that's all you get from the speech, but, in all seriousness, because Obama gave negotiation the old college try over the past two years, it's increasingly self-evident that this is true:

Blame needs to be placed. Both sides are not equal.

I doubt he planned this presidential term to be one long I-told-you-so, but that's kind of how it's worked out and how it'll go down in history.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:33 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Astro Zombie: "That woman could have been our Vice President"

Early days, son.
posted by mwhybark at 7:33 PM on January 12, 2011


er... this one.
posted by crunchland at 7:33 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obama's Arizona Speech: Transcript (As Prepared for Delivery.), Video.
posted by vapidave at 7:34 PM on January 12, 2011


Unless Obama gives a speech announcing his resignation, I'm uninterested in what he's got to say.

Six people, including a child, are dead because of a sick man with a gun, and you're gonna turn your nose up at the memorial? Come on. Nobody said you had to change your political stance, but there's no need to bring the ugly. If you don't want to listen, just go do something else.
posted by katillathehun at 7:36 PM on January 12, 2011 [102 favorites]


I don't want Obama to be a fighter for national unity.

Obama's the president, not prime minister. Some days he has to get down and twist arms to get things done, we saw that last month with the lame duck congress, and some days he has to be the national leader who tries to guide us through hard times. Today was not the time to make cheap political points.
posted by octothorpe at 7:41 PM on January 12, 2011 [13 favorites]


Metafilter: NAGPFM.

I was a little taken aback by the amount of applause throughout -- I expected something more somber, but I guess you can't really do somber with a crowd that size.

Off the top of my head, my favorite part of Obama's speech was when he urged us to keep trying to build a country worthy of our children.

I also liked the fact that public servants were actively celebrated rather than being portrayed as lazy, overpaid parasites, which (at the risk of sounding uncivil) has seemed to me like a growing trend lately.
posted by uosuaq at 7:42 PM on January 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


(After preview: obviously one of the original poster's favorite parts too...)
posted by uosuaq at 7:44 PM on January 12, 2011


But I guess I can just look forward to him not being re-elected.

I've got $200 that says you're wrong.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:45 PM on January 12, 2011 [18 favorites]


Does anyone know who? I'm curious.

Goldsboro, NC. Female caller.
posted by cashman at 7:46 PM on January 12, 2011


I especially liked the part about widening "the circle of our concern."
posted by naoko at 7:46 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


[deleted a ton of comments MeMail is great for asking people wtf they are talking about, or writing your acronyms that no one but you knows.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:48 PM on January 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


Does anyone know who? I'm curious.

I dunno, some guy named Ralph.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:48 PM on January 12, 2011 [14 favorites]


Another good sign: Fearing tea party violence, four Arizona Republicans resign
posted by Balisong at 7:51 PM on January 12, 2011


I especially liked the part about widening "the circle of our concern."

he might have been referencing william lecky... also i'm pretty sure "the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us" was from clinton? "our common humanity" and all... oh and fwiw, here're andrew sullivan and james fallows reactions.
posted by kliuless at 7:56 PM on January 12, 2011


Another good sign: Fearing tea party violence, four Arizona Republicans resign

How's that a good sign? It just suggests that folks on teh ground in Arizona expect more partisan violence.
posted by orthogonality at 7:58 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Balisong: How is that a good sign? Seems more like bad foreshadowing to me.
posted by Atom Eyes at 7:59 PM on January 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Barack Oabam is truly amazing at giving speeches, at making us well up with emotion, and at (temporarily) bringing us together as a nation. And yet, so far, pretty "meh" at delivering substantial and lasting change.

You might want to take a look at this not very short list.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:05 PM on January 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Another good sign: Fearing tea party violence, four Arizona Republicans resign

I'm sorry, but how is it a good sign that tea partiers were able to use the threat of violence to bully these folks out of office? Er, on preview, what orthogonality & Atom Eyes said.
posted by juv3nal at 8:06 PM on January 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I thought the speech was astounding.

The National Review seemed to praise it. Their comments section is embarrassing as usual.
posted by empath at 8:06 PM on January 12, 2011


Thanks for posting this.
posted by Artw at 8:17 PM on January 12, 2011


Thanks for this. Is there a video anywhere of the speech in its entirety?
posted by hot soup girl at 8:21 PM on January 12, 2011


Good effort by Obama, but Teddy Roosevelt keeps the prize for best post-shooting speech:

Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose. But fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet - there is where the bullet went through - and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best.

– Theodore Roosevelt, Address at Milwaukee, Wis., October 14, 1912
posted by Frank Grimes at 8:21 PM on January 12, 2011 [28 favorites]


Video of speech in its entirety.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:22 PM on January 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


I think the good sign comment was satire.

All these people who comment on the record amount of legislation produced by congress remind me of the old elementary school antics where cookies would be counted out like this:

"One cookie for you (1), one cookie for me (1). Two cookies for you (2), two cookies for me (3). Three cookies for you (3), four cookies for me (7)."

The quantity of legislation does not matter. It is the quality. For every decent piece of legislation created by congress, the price paid has been morally abhorrent concessions to people who already have too much at the expense of those who have not enough.

These shell games between left and right are only keeping the real war out of the public eye -- the war between the rich and the middle class. Obama knows this war is going on. He is doing almost nothing to stop it, and neither is congress. Nothing substantive. Show me legislation by congress (supported by Obama) that is substantively decreasing the income inequality in this country, and then I will give them credit.

Yes, for this speech, I expect the President to take the high road. Is anyone really naive enough to believe he wouldn't? He won't get much credit from me there. He makes great speeches, but give me justice above great words any day.
posted by PigAlien at 8:25 PM on January 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Now, friends, of course, I do not know, as I say, anything about him; but it is a very natural thing that weak and vicious minds should be inflamed to acts of violence by the kind of awful mendacity and abuse that have been heaped upon me for the last three months by the papers in the interest of not only Mr. Debs but of Mr. Wilson and Mr. Taft.

Friends, I will disown and repudiate any man of my party who attacks with such foul slander and abuse any opponent of any other party; and now I wish to say seriously to all the daily newspapers, to the Republicans, the Democrat, and Socialist parties, that they cannot, month in month out and year in and year out, make the kind of untruthful, of bitter assault that they have made and not expect that brutal, violent natures, or brutal and violent characters, especially when the brutality is accompanied by a not very strong mind; they cannot expect that such natures will be unaffected by it.


From futher on in Teddy Roosevelt's speech.
posted by empath at 8:27 PM on January 12, 2011 [83 favorites]


> especially when the brutality is accompanied by a not very strong mind; they cannot expect that such natures will be unaffected by it.

Jesus. The more things change...
posted by Burhanistan at 8:30 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obama demonstrated what it could mean to actually be a leader of this country.

Do not forget the power of speech. Do not forget what it can do. Do not forget that part of being a leader is to inspire -- if you want them to follow you up that hill, they have to believe there's a chance that they'll reach the top. Human beings are irrational, at times. It's language that can save us -- or lead us to destruction.

Leaders need to be skilled -- but they need to be able to lead. They need to inspire. Otherwise, they won't have anyone following. They won't be leaders at all.

Abraham Lincoln, 2nd Inaugural Address:
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1st Inaugural Address:
So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.
Winston Churchill, February 9, 1941 Broadcast:
We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle, nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Give us the tools, and we will finish the job
John F. Kennedy, speech at Rice University, September 12, 1962:
We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win...
Ronald Reagan, January 26th 1986 broadcast
It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons. The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them.
Barack Obama, January 13th, 2011, Tuscon
I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here -- they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.
Do you see what I'm saying? Do you see what they're saying?
posted by eriko at 8:30 PM on January 12, 2011 [23 favorites]


Damn, I'm glad Barack Obama is the president.
posted by Ratio at 8:31 PM on January 12, 2011 [28 favorites]


I'm shivering just imagining what a clusterfuck McCain/Palin would have made of it.
posted by empath at 8:34 PM on January 12, 2011 [15 favorites]


McCain was in the audience. I wonder what he was thinking.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:38 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I used to teach high school it was sort of expected that I would publicly proclaim the great potential of all students, even the knuckle-heads, so they didn't feel too bad about themselves when their peers were doing the grunt-work of writing good papers, listening to what I taught them, and getting "A's".

But man, what I wouldn't have given to have had a classroom-full of Christina Greens every day -- bright, motivated kids who most importantly displayed a great level of compassion for their fellow students/human beings.

R.I.P., Christina.
posted by bardic at 8:40 PM on January 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


The man is definitely good at giving speeches.
posted by mediareport at 8:42 PM on January 12, 2011


Unless Obama gives a speech announcing his resignation, I'm uninterested in what he's got to say.

Yeah... I think Joe Biden would be an okay president, too.
posted by Ratio at 8:43 PM on January 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


Does anyone know what verses from the Book of Isaiah Janet Napolitano read? The interwebs don't seem to be offering that particular minor detail.

"Gabby opened her eyes" has a much nicer ring than "Blood libel."

That phrase just doesn't seem like one she would have come up with on her own. Who are the people putting these kinds of words into her head and then pulling the puppet strings to get her to mouth them? It's almost mind-boggling that someone would answer charges of using violence-inciting language and imagery by employing what some would consider to be an anti-Semitic slur.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:47 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The constant applause is very odd at a memorial.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:47 PM on January 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


what was your favorite part of the speech? --- I think that many people, here on Metafilter and across the country, could use to absorb this particular passage :

"But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds."
posted by crunchland at 8:48 PM on January 12, 2011 [13 favorites]


"The constant applause is very odd at a memorial."

I think the people of Arizona have earned a little bit of self-congratulation after what they've been through. There were many heroes in the audience who deserved to be recognized as such.
posted by bardic at 8:50 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


It was a 'unity rally' as well as a memorial.
posted by empath at 8:54 PM on January 12, 2011


Thanks for that link empath. I'd never read that speech; parts of it offer a fascinating glimpse into the party politics of the day. It's kind of sad how much we've regressed on some issues (organization of labor, for example).
posted by saulgoodman at 8:55 PM on January 12, 2011


My favorite part of the speech:

"If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost."
posted by Ratio at 8:57 PM on January 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't know. I've been thinking about it, and I believe I would want applause at my memorial. Yay, Kay!! You lived a good life.
posted by wv kay in ga at 8:58 PM on January 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


I was also really moved when President Obama singled out Daniel Hernandez, the aid who applied emergency first-aid that probably saved Mrs. Giffords life. He looked kind of uncomfortable being called a "hero." In his mind he probably just thought he was doing his job and helping his boss out after something dire and tragic had happened.

Let's not forget that in Arizona a cop can ask for proof of his citizenship, and if he isn't carrying a passport, a green-card, or a birth-certificate he can be locked up. And let's face it -- with his skin-tone and surname he's exactly the person Arizona's heinously un-American citizenship law is aimed at.

I'm all for toning down the heated rhetoric on both sides, but let's not forget that this doesn't mean we should stop fighting, ever, for a better country. And that one political party in the US, despite its many flaws, is on the correct side of history while the other wants to take us backwards.
posted by bardic at 9:05 PM on January 12, 2011 [34 favorites]


Some of the applause early on was a bit weird (you invites a few thousand college students, you takes your chances), but when Obama mentioned Giffords' eyes opening, I think a Beast Mode earthquake was the best response.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:09 PM on January 12, 2011


But I guess I can just look forward to him not being re-elected.

Get used to disappointment.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:10 PM on January 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


It's just such a novel thing to hear complicated ideas expressed in public discourse. I mean, hoping we can "expand our moral imaginations"--who else talks like that?

I hope--really, really hope--he does enough that he will be remembered as a good, effective president. But he will certainly be remembered as the greatest political orator in a very long time.
posted by neroli at 9:14 PM on January 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Get used to disappointment. posted by kirkaracha
Oh believe me, I'm already disappointed - in anyone who'd support him in any political office now or in the future.
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:16 PM on January 12, 2011


There were many heroes in the audience who deserved to be recognized as such.

Yeah, I was only about ten minutes in, when he was talking about the people that were shot. The applause otherwise seemed fine.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:17 PM on January 12, 2011


> I mean, hoping we can "expand our moral imaginations"--who else talks like that?

I was also wondering about when the last time a high profile political leader was talking about love like that. He wasn't being sappy or sentimental about love but was speaking from a position of strength.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:17 PM on January 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


That speech was of a completely different order than "those who are not with us are against us", wouldn't you say?

GW Bush was a shitty president and a general failure as a human being, but that was the best speech he ever gave. I'm as liberal as they come, and I try to do what I can to bring peace and kindness into the world, but on 9/11? I wanted us to nuke the hell out of Afghanistan. That speech kicked ass.

The foreign policy based on that sentiment? Not so much.
posted by Ratio at 9:19 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Oh believe me, I'm already disappointed - in anyone who'd support him in any political office now or in the future."

OK, we get it. Go away now please.
posted by bardic at 9:19 PM on January 12, 2011 [23 favorites]


Oh believe me, I'm already disappointed - in anyone who'd support him in any political office now or in the future.

So, among the candidates in 2008, who would you have preferred?
posted by Ratio at 9:20 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


And it's not that I don't think those people deserved applause, it's that some of it was... ill-timed, I guess.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:20 PM on January 12, 2011


> Oh believe me, I'm already disappointed - in anyone who'd support him in any political office now or in the future.

Well, I'm convinced. I just joined the local chapter of the Tea Party because of your eloquent and impeccably argued remarks. Thanks for making me see the light!
posted by Burhanistan at 9:24 PM on January 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Really? Are we that narrow that we cannot fathom people commemorating death in a way different than we do? In New Orleans are there parades down the street for some funerals? And wasn't this ceremony also honoring the people who stopped and disarmed the shooter, and people who helped the victims?

Should we get mad at the guy who opened the ceremony by talking all about himself? The whole tone of the night was hey, we took this horrible situation, and we're going to make the best out of it, and we're going to be strong. Not in an arrogant way, but in a loving, caring, solid way. Or maybe that's just what I got out of it.
posted by cashman at 9:27 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wondeful speech, very honest.
posted by clavdivs at 9:29 PM on January 12, 2011


Oh believe me, I'm already disappointed - in anyone who'd support him in any political office now or in the future. --- You always have to make it about you, don't you, Sarah?
posted by crunchland at 9:31 PM on January 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


I am burning with curiosity. Did anyone catch what the crowd yelled out just after Obama's speech, when he grabbed Michelle's hand?

(I asked in the other thread)
posted by annsunny at 9:32 PM on January 12, 2011


@WestWingReport: "Boehner said no to an offer by Obama to fly on Air Force One to the Arizona memorial svc. Boehner is attending a DC fundraiser instead"
posted by Rhaomi at 9:35 PM on January 12, 2011 [15 favorites]


@Burhanistan: And the avalanche of emails begins...
posted by Jacqueline at 9:37 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm thankful for this speech.

We get caught up in our lives, the daily challenges that vex us. I know my research isn't cooperating (damn science should agree with my brilliant theories), planning a wedding is stressfull, and the world seems to get a little crazier with every day. But those are such piddling, inconsequential problems compared to those around us who are in real pain. To those who don't get any more opportunities to experience both the good and the bad.

I'm going to try and honor their loss tomorrow and the next day
posted by slapshot57 at 9:37 PM on January 12, 2011


I realize that people are dead and I might argue that the climate that created these conditions is the result of an identification with a method of redress that is consciously sponsored by one political party more than the other.
But: From the start to the end of this ceremony I'm seeing political hay made cynically (by those that I disagree with) and cynically (by those that I agree with) while the sun is high.

This conflates (certainly not for the first time, but further) martyrdom with politics.

Bullshit2
posted by vapidave at 9:37 PM on January 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


"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. We may ask ourselves if we've shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we are doing right by our children, or our community, and whether our priorities are in order. We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded 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 bettering the lives of others." - Barack Obama
posted by wherever, whatever at 9:37 PM on January 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm shivering just imagining what a clusterfuck McCain/Palin would have made of it.

I feel so incredibly ill just attempting to imagine it.

I am so grateful that Barack Obama is President of this country. I'm glad to live in a country where he is president and grateful to be alive in a time where he is president.
posted by anniecat at 9:43 PM on January 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other's ideas without questioning each other's love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.
posted by IvoShandor at 9:43 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Friends, I will disown and repudiate...

Ah, back in the good old times, when political figures could find the right words to express themselves, without having to manufacture new ones on the spot...
posted by Ghidorah at 9:46 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


"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. We may ask ourselves if we've shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we are doing right by our children, or our community, and whether our priorities are in order. We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded 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 bettering the lives of others." Obama

I was moved to tears, tears I've been holding back for days. I don't have tv, watched it all just now on cspan website, glad they played Imagine at the end. The bravery of Christina's parents was inspiring, and the genuine warmth shown by both Obamas too. Michelle hugging Christina's mom, every parent I know (and a lot of non-parents too) was part of that hug.

I mean shit, can you imagine any other president and first lady in your memory showing such human warmth?
posted by mareli at 9:46 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's PBS coverage of the entire memorial, with President Obama's portion as well as words from Homeland Security Secretary (and former AZ Gov.) Janet Napolitano, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, Attorney General Eric Holder and others.
posted by carsonb at 9:50 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


The man went up there and did his job tonight.

Tomorrow is completely different day. Maybe it'll be like the Bush Jr. bullhorn moment. Something that seemed appropriate at the time but went totally off the rails when Callous and Self-Interest were invited to the "Incident Response" meetings.

But, good grief, we can't let it marinate for one, single night?
posted by Cyrano at 9:58 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh believe me, I'm already disappointed - in anyone who'd support him in any political office now or in the future.
Oh noes.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:12 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


As an Irishwoman may I propose an adapted -for -purpose 300yr old meme....

Beyond the Palin.

Works for me.
posted by Wilder at 10:16 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Please don't feed the troll.
posted by device55 at 10:17 PM on January 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


Hope will always overcome fear.

I learned that a long time ago. It's still true, but sometimes we need a little reinforcement on that. Tonight, we got it.
posted by azpenguin at 10:18 PM on January 12, 2011


Oh believe me, I'm already disappointed

Point made, instead of grandstanding in this thread about the memorial, maybe pick another or draft another thread where it's more appropriate, or even pick your fight in meta or over memail with those interested in the debate?
posted by iamabot at 10:20 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised McCain wasn't there.
posted by jeremy b at 10:27 PM on January 12, 2011


Just as well that Obama spoke as politically neutrally as he did... because America certainly doesn't think the conservatives are guilty here in any way. Metafilter, and liberals may think that, but the majority of Americans don't think that AT ALL. According to the poll just released:

"Most Americans reject the idea that inflammatory political language by conservatives should be part of the debate about the forces behind the Arizona shooting that left six people dead and a congresswoman in critical condition, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.
A 53% majority of those surveyed call that analysis mostly an attempt to use the tragedy to make conservatives look bad. About a third, 35%, say it is a legitimate point about how dangerous language can be."

Oh, and what do Americans think about the Tea Party's fault in all of this? Woo-hoo! The Tea Party is actually LESS guilty of any inflammatory impact than the two parties! Mwahahaha:

"Most of those surveyed see inflammatory language being used by both Republicans and Democrats. And the Tea Party movement gets slightly less blame than the two major parties, although the difference is too small to be statistically significant."

So, American public, head firmly in the sand. It's hopeless. Nothing whatever will teach anybody anything. Are you still surprised that after the disaster of 8 years of Republican misrule on an epic scale, the public would a scant two years later bring back Republicans into power in such record numbers that it's unmatched in the memory of most people alive today? Why? According to polls, the public started turning against Obama a mere 3 months after his election. Oh yeah, the American public certainly is very perceptive and really knows how to learn a lesson.
posted by VikingSword at 10:28 PM on January 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Never mind, just saw he was there per someone's comment in the thread above.
posted by jeremy b at 10:29 PM on January 12, 2011


Obama is a great president, this was an incredible speech. I'm reminded that we voted for him to bring some sense of adult and maturity to Washington that had been missing under Bush. In spite of the rhetoric of Ms. Palin, etc he was not elected to be the ultra left figure. He was elected on themes of change towards pragmatism, eating your vegetables, and cleaning up the mess. Those who are disappointed seem to have been thinking he was something more than a pragmatic centrist with leftward instincts on policies.

62% of voters favored the tax compromise. I recall a chant from a rally, "This is what democracy looks like."
posted by humanfont at 10:30 PM on January 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


As an Irishwoman may I propose an adapted -for -purpose 300yr old meme.... Beyond the Palin.

Ironically, given that Palin is complaining that she's been calumnied with a "blood libel", "beyond the Pale" is likewise a term associated with persecution of the Jews.

Catherine the Great created the "Pale of Settlement" as the only area of Russia in which Jews were allowed to live. Like the better known "resettlement to the East" of Jews by Nazi Germany, Catherine's "resettlement to the West" was designed to remove Jews from Russian society. (In both cases, the Jews largely ended up in what is today Poland. In Catherine's case, the majority didn't end up dead, though they suffered through regular pogroms.) "Beyond the Pale" referred to certain favored Jews who were allowed to live or travel outside the Pale of Settlement.
posted by orthogonality at 10:51 PM on January 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


62% of voters favored the tax compromise.

Do we really have to do all this again?
posted by dialetheia at 10:58 PM on January 12, 2011


orthogonality: in fact, no. The pale in the phrase "beyond the Pale" refers to the zone of English dominance in Ireland in the early days of the English conquest of Ireland. Those who were beyond the Pale were the terrifying Catholic Gaels.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:34 PM on January 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


Wow orthognality, I was only aware of the Pale in Irish History, the settled English stronghold on the East Coast Beyond which the Wild & ungovernable Irish roamed. Can't google very well on the BB but almost certain it precedes that usage , but thank you. I learn something new every day.
posted by Wilder at 11:40 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


> "...make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds."

I'm reminded somehow of this time when I was at a party in SF, in the Haight district. This hippy girl there had to move her van because a great overnight parking spot had opened up and another guy (who was a bit of a gruff old dog, but a sweetheart) went down to hold the space for her while she drove around the block. Sure enough, someone drove up and wanted to park with the van right behind them. After a minute or so the person in the car, quite frustrated that this guy wouldn't get out of the space says "I should punch you!"

And he says, "Oh yeah? What then?"
posted by Catblack at 11:44 PM on January 12, 2011 [12 favorites]


Just as well that Obama spoke as politically neutrally as he did... because America certainly doesn't think the conservatives are guilty here in any way. Metafilter, and liberals may think that, but the majority of Americans don't think that AT ALL.

I am both a liberal and on Metafilter, and I don't think that at all. Anything else I might have to say on the topic was already said much earlier and much better by the President.
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:53 PM on January 12, 2011


From the speech:
if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let's remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud. . . . We should be civil because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords . . .
I've been thinking about the point several Mefites in the other thread made about "civility," citing Krugman's article: "It’s important to be clear here about the nature of our sickness. It’s not a general lack of “civility,” . . . Politeness may be a virtue, but there’s a big difference between bad manners and calls, explicit or implicit, for violence; insults aren’t the same as incitement."

I had been using "civility" to encompass a larger sense of good-faith standards of behaviour. But I can see that it could easily, damagingly, be interpreted in the narrow, superficial sense of polite tone. Damned if I can come up with a replacement word, though. An antonym of dehumanize might work, if there is one. Dehumanization, I'm thinking, is what underlies a state of mind that habitually embraces incitement -- a bankruptcy of empathy for the human targets. Humanize doesn't work. Hmmm. "Empathy/empathic" gets the same meaning across as the good-faith sense of "civility/civil" in that bit from Obama's speech. Doesn't sound very punchy, but maybe that's just the nature of the beast.

Actually, "We should be empathic because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords," works really well considering the rest of the sentence: "who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations."

"we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country" -- a tactful yet firm counterpoint to those who love polarizing, demonizing rhetoric. Well done.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:31 AM on January 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


re: Cheering

Obama + 10,000 college students = what you saw tonight
posted by atomicmedia at 1:46 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


...because America certainly doesn't think the conservatives are guilty here in any way. Metafilter, and liberals may think that, but the majority of Americans don't think that AT ALL.

This is why to a first approximation, all surveys are garbage. They measure not the opinion of the measured population, but the response to the question.

It's not the Tea Party's fault. It's not the True Conservatives' fault, or the Freepers', or the Dittoheads', or the Moral Majority, or whatever the polite term is these days (and, yes, I'm capitalizing these, precisely as I would capitalize Cowboys, or Dolphins, or Flyers, or Red Wings... There's a killing to be made in jersey sales in today's American political landscape.) You can't even talk about American liberals as a coherent group, which admittedly is sort of the point, so we'll have to leave them aside for the moment.

How to put this... Is the unending storm over Queensland guilty for the flooding in Brisbane? It's a cause of it, but I don't think guilt is the applicable term here. There are other causes as well. Flood control. Climate change. City planning. The use of impervious groundcover. And. So. On. The Australian climate itself hasn't really been too big-settlement-friendly for the last forty thousand years or so. Point is, complex situations have complex causes, and resist simple solutions.

Back to this derail, though: certainly the rhetoric espoused by the individuals and groups participating in what passes for the system of American political discourse has an influence on the environment in which this mass murder occurred. The level of discourse America, as a society, has grown to tolerate, from Limbaugh to Olbermann, is somewhat more heated than I would expect from grown responsible adults in a country not in a state of civil war. Arguing that this environment had no impact whatsoever on a probable paranoid schizophrenic -- who tend to be voracious consumers of whatever information they can get their hands on, and efficient synthesizers of that data into false knowledge through the intensely personal, twisted logic of their disease -- is somewhat obtuse, no? If this was an isolated attack by a madman, with no cause other than mental illness, we would expect to have seen it in an area where schizophrenia is more prevalent. Assuming a distribution for schizophrenia following population distribution (I can't find geographic prevalence for schizophrenia in the US), Tucson with its relatively low population density seems an unlikely location for this to have occurred.

Even Palin's reaction, and the reaction to Palin's reaction, and the reaction to the reaction to... Bah. Let's ignore her, she's a link farm. Even the continuation of this discussion on these terms further contributes to the problem. Conservatives (most probably many of whom feeling at some level Tiabbi's guilt for having been caught out in a shouting match that indirectly got some people killed but not allowed by their rhetorical position to admit such) go on the defensive, say outrageous things, and the deadly shouting match goes on.

So, yes, the rhetorical environment is pretty obviously permissive or contributory to political violence, and it's the madmen who act first in such environments, because they're missing the part of the brain that inhibits such action. That much seems obvious.

But that's not the question that was asked here. Phrase the question "are conservatives guilty", and of course "no" is the answer you're going to get. (Phrase it "are liberals guilty", you'll get a higher yes count, but that's just due to the fact that America's been programmed for the past thirty years or so to hear it as a slur.)

End derail. On topic, great speech, fitting of a head of state, and exactly what was needed, as I have come to expect from this President.

Solutions? Complex situations resist simple solutions. If the environment is such that even this speech gets politicized, it's not clear what can be done.
posted by Vetinari at 2:14 AM on January 13, 2011 [17 favorites]


Typical Obama, liberal nanny-state nonsense. No government stooge is gonna tell me how much vitriol goes into my discourse!

(But seriously: Good speed. I remember voting for this guy, what happened to him?)
posted by GilloD at 2:57 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the Obama I voted for. And whether or not Obama's speechwriters intended it, this speech was a direct and forceful repudiation of Mrs. Palin's Facebook "speech" yesterday, filled to the brim with Sarah's unbelievable narcissism, her (and the Tea Party's) belief in Margaret Thatcher's statement that "there is no such thing as society" and more dog whistles to her base than you'd find in an obedience school.

Obama did a good thing last night.
posted by jhandey at 3:23 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I remember voting for this guy, what happened to him?

What has Obama done so far?

I'm not saying he's been perfect, but he has tried.
posted by dumdidumdum at 3:30 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Through his career, Obama has unfailingly kept to the rhetorical high road - often to the frustration of his own supporters. This was a good speech because he spent his life earning the credibility to give it.
posted by klarck at 5:35 AM on January 13, 2011 [14 favorites]


This is why to a first approximation, all surveys are garbage. They measure not the opinion of the measured population, but the response to the question.

Surveys are garbage in debate because people will just argue against the methodology of the survey if they don't like the results.
posted by smackfu at 5:59 AM on January 13, 2011


Green's casket will be both donated and hand-made by the Trappist monks of NW Iowa, who will plant a tree to replace the one used for the casket in the spring. The Abbey's process for making caskets is meaningful.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:00 AM on January 13, 2011 [13 favorites]


I had been using "civility" to encompass a larger sense of good-faith standards of behaviour. But I can see that it could easily, damagingly, be interpreted in the narrow, superficial sense of polite tone. Damned if I can come up with a replacement word, though.

How about the replacement phrase "not-being-an-asshole"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:10 AM on January 13, 2011


After heading from this thread to work, I heard Funkadelic's "Everybody's Going To Make It This Time" for the first time. Along with an staggeringly wonderful sunrise to go with the morning commute, I am starting out the day in a much better mood than in previous days.
posted by Hesychia at 6:43 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is a weird disconnect between Republican commentators and their comments sections.

Do you think they might finally start noticing the monster they've created? Some of these guys are pretty smart, decent people, and you know they have to be embarrassed by their own comments sections.
posted by empath at 7:04 AM on January 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm glad many of you are providing informative and detailed links to the work Obama has done and just how much was accomplished in the last two years in Congress, but at this point, "Obama hasn't done anything" is a meme with a life all its own. Facts can't kill it. At the very most, some of these changes may be acknowledged but will be dismissed as insignificant. Or maybe I'm just cynical. I dunno. Anyway, glad to see some warmth breathed into this horrible event for a change.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:10 AM on January 13, 2011


I'll be honest: I don't actually have a political agenda when it comes to calling out Republicans for their violent and abusive rhetoric. I have a personal one.

In my professional career, as I've mentioned at other times, I've actually had to sit through lunch meetings at which high powered clients casually chatted away about "killing all the liberals." That's not hyperbole or agitprop. I've had to endure that kind of talk in my life, growing up in the rural South, so often, that it makes me miserable. It's depressing and painful to have to just sit there and listen to people glibly talking about persecuting or even murdering other Americans for their political beliefs, and yet, in many cases, that's been my experience.

Politics aside, can't we please for God's sake put a stop to it? The reason I single out Republicans is because I've honestly never heard that kind of rhetoric from my liberal leaning friends. My liberal friends might say very sharply critical things about Republicans and, for example, big business interests, but generally speaking, the idea always seems to be: so we should use the legal/political system to rein them in and keep them from abusing the system--maybe arrest them--not initiate some kind of anti-Republican pogrom.

The craziest thing about the Republican liberal-bashing is that it's so socially acceptable in certain circles, no one even bats an eye even when someone in a real position of authority talks like this. I just want that to stop, for selfish reasons as much as for the good of the country. I don't give a damn what polls think or what public opinion is: I just want it to stop.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:16 AM on January 13, 2011 [24 favorites]


Full speech
posted by AceRock at 7:22 AM on January 13, 2011


empath: "There is a weird disconnect between Republican commentators and their comments sections."

My personal favorite?
Nice job, Mr. President. Now you’re starting to sound a little more like Glenn Beck.

Let the healing begin.
This comparison amuses me on so many levels. It's like playing Zeppelin's "The Rain Song" for someone and being told, "Wow, that song is on par with My Humps! Awesome job there!"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:24 AM on January 13, 2011 [13 favorites]


Speaking of glenn beck, his twitter feed seems to hint that he's going to be complimentary about the speech today.
posted by empath at 7:46 AM on January 13, 2011


Speaking of glenn beck, his twitter feed seems to hint that he's going to be complimentary about the speech today.

I'm reminded of a moment from the film Quiz Show, after Charles Van Doren has confessed to his actions and apologized. Two congressmen publically applaud him for his courage in coming forward and admitting to a personal failing. Then a third congressman addresses him:

"Mr Van Doren, I'm also from New York, a different part of New York. I'm happy that you made the statement, but I cannot agree with most of my colleagues. You see, I don't think an adult of your intelligence ought to be commended for simply, at long last, telling the truth."

I'm happy that Glenn Beck is going to be complimentary. But I don't think an adult ought to be commended for simply, at long last, being civil.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:50 AM on January 13, 2011 [17 favorites]


While this was a great speech for many reasons, I was struck by the amount of Christianity referenced in it. I thought I'd look up if there had ever been a non-Christian president of the USA. Seems not. Being a UK citizen, I then looked to see if there have been any non-Christian Prime Ministers here. Again, doesn't look like it. The nearest was Benjamin Disraeli, who was Jewish, but converted to Christianity.

Maybe I shouldn't be surprised by this, given that the USA and UK both have large numbers of Christian voters. But I am. I never realised that having a head of state of a different, or no, religion would be less likely - and more novel - than that person being Black, or female. 
posted by iotic at 8:07 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


A 53% majority of those surveyed call that analysis mostly an attempt to use the tragedy to make conservatives look bad. About a third, 35%, say it is a legitimate point about how dangerous language can be."

First off, that's a really terrible question. Surely there are other options out there than the three Gallup gave to choose from: "Legitimate point", "Make conservatives look bad", and "No opinion".

And FWIW, the results can just as easily taken the other way--fully half of people who have an opinion on the matter think that "heated language used in politics today" was a factor influencing the shooter--42% vs 42% who say "not a factor".

Among Independents, slightly more think it was a factor than not (45% vs 43%).

If you'd like to read Gallup's own summary of it's poll, it's here.
posted by flug at 8:09 AM on January 13, 2011


My esteemed governor had something to say about the power of words back in 2006, I'd like to share it with you.
posted by rollbiz at 8:11 AM on January 13, 2011


Like iotic above, I was surprised and somewhat disappointed at all the christian references during the speech. The repetition was grating, and seemed, to me at least, to be completely out of order for a governemtn official giving a public speech -- but, then, it's pretty clear that the separation of church and state in the 1st amendment, and the constitution in general, is in decline and will be continued to be eroded over time. Otherwise, it was a decent enough speech.
posted by Blackanvil at 8:39 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I haven't had a chance to watch the video, but just reading the transcript made me want to blubber.

We may not have known them personally, but we surely see ourselves in them.

That paragraph, in particular, got to me. Thank you, Mister President.
posted by kryptondog at 8:47 AM on January 13, 2011


Like iotic above, I was surprised and somewhat disappointed at all the christian references during the speech.

....Even though it was a speech that was taking place for an audience comprised of people who were in mourning?

there's a difference between "eroding the wall between church and state" and "knowing your audience."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:50 AM on January 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


> I was surprised and somewhat disappointed at all the christian references during the speech.

While he referenced the Bible, I didn't find it to be specifically Christian but rather more universalist. Presidents invoking God is nothing new, and will continue long after Obama.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:01 AM on January 13, 2011


Like iotic above, I was surprised and somewhat disappointed at all the christian references during the speech.

Of all the places to be surprised and disappointed by Christian references, a memorial service for the dead should not be at the top of your list.

seemed, to me at least, to be completely out of order for a governemtn official giving a public speech -- but, then, it's pretty clear that the separation of church and state in the 1st amendment, and the constitution in general, is in decline and will be continued to be eroded over time.

It would be interesting to somehow graph the Christianness or religiosity of presidential speeches over time, but it seems a hard thing to measure.

But I am highly confident that if you did that, there would be a downward trend. Not upward.

And, tip: don't ever read anything by or about Lincoln.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:04 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I remember voting for this guy, what happened to him?

The Speech that Obama gave in 2004 that put him in the national spotlight had one line that everyone remembers about how there's no Red America Or Blue America. From that speech to last night's speech, I have seen no evidence that he's abandoned that core principle. We have a President who wants to represent every single American. Including the ones you don't like. Any of us are welcome to dislike his governing style. Many are inclined to project sinister motives to his actions. I personally don't like many of his choices. But we got the guy we voted for. I think he's the most honest president we've had in a long time, and that honesty is sometimes difficult to swallow.

Obama governs with the assumption that we as a nation are intelligent and fair-minded adults, understanding of nuance. He assumes we have the patience and resilience to handle the times when things don't go our way.

He's probably dead wrong, but I can't fault him for wanting us to be better.

I have no doubt that he's going to leave this country better than he found it. Not perfect, just better. He already has.
posted by billyfleetwood at 9:06 AM on January 13, 2011 [35 favorites]


I was surprised and somewhat disappointed at all the christian references during the speech.

Count me as a cookie-cutter atheistic Jew type who is thoroughly unoffended. Memorial service for multiple dead Christians = pretty much exactly the time and place for Bible quotations.
posted by saturday_morning at 9:12 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


He mentioned God several times. He didn't say they were risen in Jesus' name and washed with the blood or the lamb or something. Don't get hung up.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:14 AM on January 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


The Speech that Obama gave in 2004 that put him in the national spotlight had one line that everyone remembers about how there's no Red America Or Blue America

I donated money to him and voted for him in the primaries and the general election because of this. I never expected him to be a liberal firebreather. I expected him to be a liberal compromiser, and he's done exactly what I expected. I didn't want a radical change. I just wanted him to nudge the country back in the right direction, and he's done that.

I spent 8 long years thinking that every day was worse than it had been the day before, politically. And now I think that pretty much every day is getting better (the angry rhetoric from the right wing aside). Would I like more things to get better, faster? Sure. But at least they aren't getting worse.
posted by empath at 9:23 AM on January 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


And really, there is nobody else in politics who matches him in stature in my opinion. He makes everybody else look small and ridiculous.
posted by empath at 9:25 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Blaneyphoto, you're getting some well-deserved heat for your comment. I'm sorry you choose to close your mind to what the President has to say. I disliked much of what the previous president had to say, but I listened as much as I could, because I want to know what other people think. I'd like to know more about why you feel the way you do. Care to elaborate?
posted by theora55 at 9:37 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


iotic: " I thought I'd look up if there had ever been a non-Christian president of the USA. Seems not. "

Kind of hinges on your definition. Deists like Jefferson in particular and to a certain extent Monroe, Lincoln and the like are certainly monotheists, but would in general reject lots of the basic tenets of Christianity (Jefferson explicitly rejected the divinity of Jesus, for example). Lots of Presidents on that list were "irreligious" at a time when coming out as an agnostic or atheist would have been one's death knell in American politics (heck, it still pretty much is that time).
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:59 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am unsurprised that Obama would deliver a moving and appropriate speech in the wake of such a tragedy. Presidents are typically very good at this. My objections to both Obama and his predecessors aside, they have all typically shown poise, dignity and compassion in such moments.

I am very glad to have been provided with the text of the Teddy Roosevelt speech as a result of this thread. The man was bad ass. In the wake of this event, more people should read that speech. Sure, the policy stuff toward the end was partisan and emblematic of its time, but the substance of the beginning and TR's comments on political discourse are certainly relevant to today's political climate.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:08 AM on January 13, 2011


[A few comments removed, please cut it out.]
posted by cortex at 10:19 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


[memail is available if you want to have one-on-one comments with other users. The "referendum on one user's unpopular opinions" tactic sort of sucks here.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:27 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The speech as word cloud
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:29 AM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


The speech as word cloud

Sort of puts all the shock and horror over the president mentioning "God" at a memorial service into better perspective.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:31 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaker Boehner skips Tucson memorial for RNC cocktail party
posted by homunculus at 10:47 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Late to this party, and I haven't read this whole thread. But reading that speech gave me goosebumps.

I can't imagine having to choose words to address an entire nation regarding something like this. That was a eulogy that did good by the immensity of the tragedy.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:48 AM on January 13, 2011


Christianity as a religion aside, I can't really imagine a better piece of literature or philosophy or whatever more appropriate for this situation than the book of Job.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:51 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


More stylish prose: von Drehle on the massacre.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:00 AM on January 13, 2011


While he referenced the Bible, I didn't find it to be specifically Christian but rather more universalist.

In fact, the two biblical references in the speech that I remember are from Psalms and Job, both of which are in the Hebrew Bible.
posted by ekroh at 11:03 AM on January 13, 2011


I thought I'd look up if there had ever been a non-Christian president of the USA. Seems not.

It was a big deal when Kennedy was elected because he was Catholic. We haven't had a Catholic president before or since.
posted by Squeak Attack at 11:04 AM on January 13, 2011


> It was a big deal when Kennedy was elected because he was Catholic.

A big deal mainly from Protestants, no?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:04 AM on January 13, 2011


Like iotic above, I was surprised and somewhat disappointed at all the christian references during the speech.

They weren't Christian references any more than they were Muslim or Jewish references; the quoted scriptures were from the Old Testament which is one of the holy books of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. This point has already been discussed in the other thread. I know we're all eager to find the best angle to start peeling this bad boy apart and get back the business of sodomizing our nation's vast imagination, but this is not a legitimate line of complaint.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:10 AM on January 13, 2011


Or what ekroh said.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:11 AM on January 13, 2011


Obama vs. Palin word cloud
posted by scody at 11:13 AM on January 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


A big deal mainly from Protestants, no?

It was a pretty big deal to my Catholic, Boston-raised, Irish-American grandma too.
posted by Squeak Attack at 11:23 AM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


As far as political ramifications go, Obama's poll numbers have rebounded in recent days, showing a net positive approval rating for the first time since last summer. And that's without factoring in any polling conducted after that amazing speech. Here's hoping he can follow through on the State of the Union address later in the month.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:47 AM on January 13, 2011


Thanks, l33tpolicywonk, that's very interesting and I didn't know that. I guess I was mostly surprised by the religiosity of the speech, when so much political discourse is free of such overtones. And of course it is interesting to wonder if not being explicitly Christian would be a barrier to being a US or UK head of state, in this day and age.
posted by iotic at 11:55 AM on January 13, 2011


I guess I was mostly surprised by the religiosity of the speech, when so much political discourse is free of such overtones.

Really? You mean outside of America, I presume. And why would "religiosity" at a memorial service surprise you, especially in such vague, ecumenical terms as Obama used?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:13 PM on January 13, 2011


Well, didn't they play "Imagine" at the end of the event, too? An atheist anthem?
posted by saulgoodman at 12:14 PM on January 13, 2011


Just saw this on Gawker. It was taken down Monday.
posted by francesca too at 12:26 PM on January 13, 2011



And really, there is nobody else in politics who matches him [Obama] in stature in my opinion. He makes everybody else look small and ridiculous.

Except, oddly enough, Jon Stewart.
posted by msalt at 12:42 PM on January 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


And of course it is interesting to wonder if not being explicitly Christian would be a barrier to being a US or UK head of state, in this day and age.

You don't have to wonder, at least for the USA. You would not be elected president if you were not explicitly Christian.
posted by Justinian at 12:51 PM on January 13, 2011


okay what. NPR is reporting that some people are slamming the speech as a 'pep rally.' Where is that coming from?
posted by angrycat at 1:04 PM on January 13, 2011


The cheering and the T-shirts are where the pep ralley meme is coming from. I saw a comment somewhere that was saying the logo was going to be his 2012 campaign slogan. It's like the whole point of all of this goes right over peoples heads.
posted by Big_B at 1:12 PM on January 13, 2011


okay what. NPR is reporting that some people are slamming the speech as a 'pep rally.' Where is that coming from?

Well, heck, some people in this very thread were taken aback by the cheering.

Not that I agree with them -- chacon a son gout -- but it does tell me that not everything critical of Obama is coming from a single unified Think-Tank-O-Rage, is all. Lots of people have lots of opinions about stuff and often come up with them on their own.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:13 PM on January 13, 2011


Loony Malkin is claiming it was all "branded".
posted by Burhanistan at 1:14 PM on January 13, 2011


Official White House Photographer Pete Souza's slide show of President Obama in Arizona.
posted by jillithd at 1:19 PM on January 13, 2011


'Pep Rally' seems to be the approved republican meme on the memorial service.
posted by octothorpe at 1:21 PM on January 13, 2011


I don't think being non-religious would be an especial problem for a British PM. Was Wilson explicitly religious? Callaghan? Major? Thatcher expressed her annoyance at the liberality of Anglican bishops more than a support for the institution of the Church of England. They might have gone to church sometimes, but only on duty, as it were. Generally there seems to be a policy of Don't Ask / Don't Tell / Don't Care.

Blair's come out as a bit of an evangelical, but then it's just added to the aura of faint bonkersness that he's worn since falling in with Idiot George.
posted by Grangousier at 1:27 PM on January 13, 2011


"Yes, we have to examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of such violence in the future. But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other."

YES WE CAN!
posted by markkraft at 1:27 PM on January 13, 2011


'Pep Rally' seems to be the approved republican meme on the memorial service.

What part of if this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost don't they understand?
posted by Ratio at 1:29 PM on January 13, 2011


Not that I agree with them -- chacon a son gout -- but it does tell me that not everything critical of Obama is coming from a single unified Think-Tank-O-Rage, is all. Lots of people have lots of opinions about stuff and often come up with them on their own.

Well--kind of. Part of what political operatives do is look for patterns in popular opinion they can exploit. So, if in their scans of different forums and media outlets like MeFi, they start to notice people on both sides take issue with some little detail or another, then they spin it out into a much larger issue, and it becomes an effective wedge issue. It's much easier to coax, exacerbate, and reframe minor issues with a grain of truth in them into big contentious stories than it is to manufacture them out of whole cloth. Just think of the little gossips on the schoolyard when you were a kid who would take the most trivial scandals and whip them into major conflicts so they could see a fight. That's basically what political operatives do for a living: opportunistically exploit minor differences of opinion and inflame them into controversies for political gain.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:31 PM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I guess maybe the other side is having the reaction that I had when Bush got in the rubble of the towers and was surrounded by chants of USA! USA! USA! USA!

Except that was cheering on war and shit, so that's why I was grossed out. I simply do not understand the emotional reactions of people on the other side. I get the political angle -- the speech made Obama look good, and that's not good for people who want an R as POTUS. But what is the emotional angle? Yuck, reflection? Just weird, man. /shakes head
posted by angrycat at 1:35 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: "Well, heck, some people in this very thread were taken aback by the cheering."

I was taken aback by the cheering too, but that doesn't strike me as created by the President or the White House as much as a bunch of ASU kids who don't seem to understand how to participate in a somber memorial service.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:39 PM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was taken aback by the cheering too, but that doesn't strike me as created by the President or the White House as much as a bunch of ASU kids who don't seem to understand how to participate in a somber memorial service.

Others may have just interpreted that cheering differently, was my point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:41 PM on January 13, 2011


"what some political operatives do for a living", I meant to say.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:41 PM on January 13, 2011


Just chiming in to add that I also found the many explicit religious references pretty distracting. I understand that it was a memorial service, but I'm also kind of uncomfortable with the idea of Obama as our national pastor. Mostly I just felt like I would have been unwelcome at their gathering because I'm an atheist. It really wouldn't have killed him to throw in "even if you have no faith at all" or whatever here or there to soften the blow.

What bothers me is not that atheists aren't treated like special snowflakes, it's that nobody ever bothers to even consider being inclusive towards us. He went out of his way to give a shout-out to gay people, people of other faiths, etc. but couldn't throw in even one comment about people with no religion (5-10% of the US last I checked). It didn't ruin things for me, of course, but it did mar what was otherwise a very good speech.
posted by dialetheia at 1:43 PM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


A bright note: a Canadian radio talk show host, Dean Blundell, apparently contacted the Westboro Baptist church and made them a deal -- he would let them come and talk on his show on the condition that they call off their plans to protest the funerals in Tucson. They agreed.

Dean's in my cool book.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:00 PM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


He went out of his way to give a shout-out to gay people, people of other faiths, etc. but couldn't throw in even one comment about people with no religion (5-10% of the US last I checked). It didn't ruin things for me, of course, but it did mar what was otherwise a very good speech.

Where did he even mention a specific faith? I don't see it.
posted by ekroh at 2:02 PM on January 13, 2011


But that doesn't strike me as created by the President or the White House as much as a bunch of ASU kids who don't seem to understand how to participate in a somber memorial service.

Darn those ASU kids. I'm sure the long drive down from Phoenix to Tucson made them a bit loopy. The U of A kids in the audience were surely better behaved.
posted by Squeak Attack at 2:11 PM on January 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


In order to achieve catharsis for an audience of millions, he quoted a few passages from the most widely read book in the English language. I hate it when every presidential speech has to end with "God bless America", but come on, it's not like he was going to quote The Death of Ivan Ilyich. There's not much point in allusions no one understands, unless you're a modernist poet.
posted by Errant at 3:10 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


A bright note: a Canadian radio talk show host, Dean Blundell, apparently contacted the Westboro Baptist church and made them a deal -- he would let them come and talk on his show on the condition that they call off their plans to protest the funerals in Tucson. They agreed.

I have to disagree. These people don't deserve a platform for their hate-filled speech. There were many people lined up to block them with angel wings. They should have protested and they should have been ignored. That's the only way to deal with people like this. Ignore them. I don't believe in rewarding assholes for asshole behavior, which is precisely what the radio stations that agreed to give them airtime did. In their twisted minds, the Westboro Baptist Church won the battle and that is absolutely unacceptable.
posted by wherever, whatever at 3:26 PM on January 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Here's a very tasteful advertisement for Rush Limbaugh's radio show in Tucson.
posted by gman at 3:32 PM on January 13, 2011


One of these days Gabby's going to get her strength back & she'll be able to talk. I predict that one of the things she'll do is forgive Palin. If it's not already over by that point, that'll be the final nail in the coffin for Mooselini's political career. She has no grace or humility in her, she simply won't be able to accept it & there won't be any comeback she can make that won't seem small, petty & vain.
posted by scalefree at 3:42 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just watched the speech.

I want to live up to the standard Obama has set for us. He called it Christina's standard -- something she imagined. But as he was careful to point out, Christina's standard is naive, innocent, and hazy. It's Obama's standard that is reasoned, nuanced, and clear.

I appreciate that Obama earnestly cared about the individuals he discussed. He didn't mention them, he celebrated and mourned them. I appreciate how Obama hugged and kissed his wife after the speech was over -- this was an event that required solemn love. In the photostream jillithd links to, over and over again, Obama is hugging someone. He holds them, he looks them in the eye, and he embraces them. This is a man who, more than just having wisdom and moral standing, has deep and earnest care.

I've supported Obama from the start, but, now, I'm so very grateful to have him as our leader.
posted by meese at 3:51 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wish people could stop the political he-said-she-said for a while.

When you dislike someone, it can be difficult to resist gossiping about their distasteful behavior.

But the gawking in this thread makes me sad.
posted by zennie at 4:13 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


These people don't deserve a platform for their hate-filled speech. There were many people lined up to block them with angel wings. They should have protested and they should have been ignored.

I see it as more what the New York Times did for Ted Kazinysky -- when he was still just "the Unabomber," he kept saying that he'd keep up his actions unless someone printed his Manifesto. Finally, the NYT said "okay, we will". It wasn't because they thought it was worth the merit -- it was because "okay, if we give the guy the exposure he wants, he'll SHUT UP. Maybe people will read it, maybe they won't, but the bigger picture is that he'll stop blowing things up. And that's worth giving him a platform."

Because -- people can also ignore Fred Phelps by just turning their radio off. And this way, they're removed from Tucson so the mourners won't have to be confronted by their protests.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:55 PM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


From what I understand, Phelps is running a racket where makes the most offensive statements imaginable in hopes of generating a reaction so he can sue people for violating his first amendment rights.

It's a con.
posted by empath at 5:05 PM on January 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Exactly, Empath. And that's why ignoring them is the best way to silence them.
posted by wherever, whatever at 5:21 PM on January 13, 2011


And that's why someone in a media outlet far removed from Tucson stepped in, because Phelps and Co. now can no longer claim that they didn't get a hearing. They got what they wanted -- the media exposure -- but they didn't, because who in the United States even gets this program?....

So Phelps is trapped in this brilliant sort of Schroedingers' loop. He can't complain that he got squelched because he got on the radio...but no one heard him....but that's not becuase they tried to suppress him...but....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:37 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love this president, I love what he said, but I don't take orders from him. I stand by what I said in the other thread. Loughner doesn't seem to have had a specific and unquestionable party affiliation. But if it weren't for the deinstitutionalization pressures from republicans, if it weren't for their opposition to public health care (including mental health care), if it weren't for their blanket opposition to all forms of gun control, this tragedy could well have been averted or mitigated.

This is a time to make the discourse worthy of the people who died. But the discourse has overwhelmingly been poisoned by republicans, and the onus is on them to change their ways. Maybe a great speech by Obama will aid that effort, but I've long since lost any optimism when it comes to republican good faith.

The "One America" speech inspired me about the America I wish we were. But the factionalization of America is a reasonable response to the mainstream acceptance of extreme right-wing views. It is our obligation to be offended by the positions that have recently been legitimized by the United States' collective Overton Window, and to convict (figuratively speaking) the people who hold and espouse those views.

Republicans are bad people. No one is purely evil, I don't believe such a thing exists. But the manifestation of republican policies is both morally wrong and bad for America. We must push back even if it is "impolite" or "divisive" to do so.
posted by Riki tiki at 5:41 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Republicans are bad people

Well. That's painting with a pretty broad brush, don't you think?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:59 PM on January 13, 2011


That's painting with a pretty broad brush, don't you think?

Yes, I do think. In the anonymity of the voting booth, anyone who votes republican is institutionalizing a set of values that I believe are objectively wrong. Are they the worst people in the world? Probably not. Are they Bad People? Yes. Yes I believe this and I don't think we do anyone any favors by ignoring the Elephant in the room.
posted by Riki tiki at 7:22 PM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


So you're saying Abraham Lincoln was a bad person?
posted by crunchland at 7:32 PM on January 13, 2011


Fine. Modern republicans.
posted by Riki tiki at 7:33 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll admit it, i cried. Thanks for sharing.

And all the bickering folks above seemed to have missed the message.
posted by escher at 7:35 PM on January 13, 2011


Riki Tiki, let me gently point out that what you are doing is the moral equivalent of racism. Being a member of the party myself I can assure you that there are a wide range of people in the party, with a wide spectrum of political beliefs. It's not a monolith by any means. BELIEVE me.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:40 PM on January 13, 2011


So you're saying my Grandad is a bad person?
posted by crunchland at 7:40 PM on January 13, 2011


(some of them even vote for a democrat once in awhile.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:41 PM on January 13, 2011


what you are doing is the moral equivalent of racism

no, it really, really isn't.
posted by nadawi at 7:45 PM on January 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


If the message is "don't use violent rhetoric", then I don't think the message applies to me or the overwhelming majority of people on the left. If the message is "don't use divisive rhetoric", then I don't agree with the message. Neither of those means I missed the message.

If the message was something else, I missed it. Deepest apologies, please explain it.

taking a grarbreak now
posted by Riki tiki at 7:45 PM on January 13, 2011


Objective : not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion.

Prejudice : an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason; unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, esp. of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or national group.
posted by crunchland at 8:01 PM on January 13, 2011


your forgot to add "...while ignoring all history and power structures because that's the only way we can shoehorn in the persecution fantasty."

next dazzle me with your opinions on "reverse sexism"
posted by nadawi at 8:09 PM on January 13, 2011


Look. If someone said "all republicans are bad people," or they said "all democrats are idiots," or they said "all black people are lazy," I would argue the point equally, just on the basis of logical impossibility, leave aside ignorant prejudice.
posted by crunchland at 8:21 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I try to grarbreak, but they grar me back in.

what you are doing is the moral equivalent of racism

St. Alia: You probably understand that racism is wrong, but you don't appear to understand why racism is wrong. It's wrong because it's arbitrary; because it's not based on anything that matters. Logic and reason matter, and republicans have abandoned both in favor of fearmongering and pandering to the wealthy. It's not just not "equivalent", it's not comparable because judging someone's opinions or behavior is fundamentally different from judging their skin color. I'm truly sorry that fact seems to have escaped you.

crunchland: I assure you that my opinions of republicans are not formed before I was aware of their policies. I have known their policies. I have thought about their policies. I have rationalized their policies. I have even sympathized with their policies back when I called myself a libertarian. They are not a racial, religious, or national group (national in this case meaning "of a particular nation" rather than "a group specific to the political system of a particular nation"), and my feelings and opinions and attitudes towards them are based on my rational faculties as a competent citizen of the U.S. Somehow I doubt that you're convinced of my objectivity.

But my feelings are hostile, and I feel that it's the only objective response to a party that (objectively) plans to repeal health coverage for millions of Americans, (objectively) opposes the extension of rights to gay and lesbian citizens, (objectively) wishes to gut social services and extend even further tax benefits to the ultra-wealthy.

If your grandfather votes for that, he's a bad person. My parents are bad people in exactly the same way, but good people in other ways as I'm sure your grandfather is (and even St. Alia). Doesn't excuse any of their actions.

Promise I'm closing the browser now.
posted by Riki tiki at 8:26 PM on January 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: How about the replacement phrase "not-being-an-asshole"?
if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in less assholery in our public discourse, let's remember that it is not because a simple lack of better-than-assholery caused this tragedy, but rather because only a less assholey and [more] honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud. . . . We should be the-opposite-of-assholes because we want to live up to the example of public servants like Joh tn Roll and Gabby Giffords . . .
Well...it's clunky. Also, would automatically offend religious people of various political stripes who think "asshole" is on par with "fuck" or "shit" for Bad Language. However, the vision of Obama using variations of "asshole" this often in a formal speech is amusing.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:47 PM on January 13, 2011


Riki tiki, how about a modification like "Too many Republicans / "too many Republican politicians"?

I mean... I'm anal about carefully qualifying my generalizations with words like "Some / many / too many / too few / a significant proportion of." It's usually more accurate, people are less likely to take it personally, and so it's less likely to inspire derailments. Even so, probably a majority of people who respond, respond as if I have said "All." And things derail from there.

In fact my go-to right-leaning interlocutor sent me just that kind of response to my concerns re violent, specifically targeted rhetoric from people with political weight. I was very careful to specify particular political celebrities and leaders. And he responds with, "I don't dispute the fact that there is an unhealthy element in the country who are obsessed that Obama's over-arching intention is to radically transform society to the vision that he endorses and that they don't. And some are racist; and some are gun-nuts, etc. and all of those could be described as radical or rabid right-wingers; and some few of them potentially dangerous. But it's a leap of fantasy from there to denounce all conservatives, or non-democrats, as being of that mind set." (my emphasis) (OK I can see where he could have made the leap to "all conservatives" from what I actually said, but I have no idea where he pulled "all non-democrats" out of...perhaps simple defensiveness.)

So now I have to set him straight about what my actual words were, because otherwise, my actual points would just sit there, not being discussed, while we argued about "YES all conservatives are rabid" "NO all conservatives are not rabid" ad nauseam. And I know they're not all rabid because the rabid ones are the most vocal and get the most media attention, while I know several who are thoughtful and in the past couple of years have expressed increasing discomfort with the direction their party has taken and some have stopped voting Republican. So I wouldn't be comfortable taking that line of argument anyway, even if it didn't make a reasonable discussion difficult to have, which IME it does. I have found that unqualified generalizations set up a blindingly "Come Get Me For Overgeneralizing" target for interlocutors. Then the discussion's all about whether I'm overgeneralizing or not.

YMMV, I know. Also, even though I disagree with Modern Republicans are bad people, thank you for It's not just not "equivalent", it's not comparable because judging someone's opinions or behavior is fundamentally different from judging their skin color.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:24 AM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The overnight ratings on Obama's speech are in:

Seven networks carried President Obama's live address at the memorial service in Tucson, AZ and to the country Wednesday night. The address aired from approximately 845-915p on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CNN, FOX News and MSNBC and the average audience was nearly 30.8 million viewers.

Last year's Super Bowl had 106.5 million viewers all on one network.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:25 AM on January 14, 2011


So, about twice as interesting as the suoerbowl then. 2/3 of the US population is pretty damn good.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:45 AM on January 14, 2011


Hah, no. 30 million combined, not 30 million per network.
posted by empath at 5:11 AM on January 14, 2011


Empath is right, according to that article and a few others I found. Although I don't know what they are averaging when they say "average" (average of their models?).

(200 million is pretty unrealistic. I think the highest rated TV event ever only has about 100 million)
posted by dirigibleman at 7:05 AM on January 14, 2011


Squeak Attack: "Darn those ASU kids. I'm sure the long drive down from Phoenix to Tucson made them a bit loopy. The U of A kids in the audience were surely better behaved."

Alright, I'm an idiot. Even though I'm 22, I'm just generally antagonistic to college kids.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:35 AM on January 14, 2011


Republicans have abandoned both in favor of fearmongering and pandering to the wealthy.

So, you have talked to every single registered Republican in this country and they do this? Come on, that's ridiculous.

Every therapist I have ever met has said that the use of "always" and "never" are inaccurate and poor choices of words. I grant that Republican policy as you perceive it could be accused of what you accuse it of (without necessarily agreeing with you) but yes, I am stuck on the point of you painting with a broad brush. It is wrong when someone says "all liberals", it is wrong when someone says "all black people" and it is wrong when you say "all Republicans."

Part of bringing back civility to the national discourse is to quit treating the "other side" as our enemies. Argue policies, argue politics, but for the sake of all that is holy let us stop demonizing people.

In other words "Palin is not showing the intelligence necessary to be a national leader" NOT "Palin is an idiot." Both statements may be true but only one gets us to the goal we need to aspire to.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:53 AM on January 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Nah, Palin is a stupid git with no future in political office but lots of future in lucrative pundit blathering.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:54 AM on January 14, 2011


Well, see, the problem I think is, a large percentage of the population on both sides of the political aisle have come to believe that "their side" means Limbaugh, Beck, and their ilk--who've become, in effect, the official standard-bearers of modern Republicanism.

In reality, these guys are just overrated, relentlessly self-aggrandizing and opportunistic hacks who've made a career of sowing division among the American people. And even most of their supporters will, in rare moments of honest, admit as much.

I mean, just think about it: Limbaugh and Beck (just for example) essentially produce nothing but invective against their own perpetually shifting definitions of "liberalism" (which, in practice, means nothing more than any political idea they disagree with at the time--to the absurd degree that they've even managed to re-brand Teddy Roosevelt, once popularly viewed as a sterling example of Republicanism, as a raving leftist).

In no other sphere of society do we grant so much authority and influence to people mono-maniacally obsessed with a single idea. Indeed, denouncing liberal ideals and liberals as evil is literally the entire basis of Beck, Limbaugh and their milieu's careers, and we've allowed them to become, essentially, the standard-bearers for Republican ideals. Never mind that, in fact, there's a long tradition of liberalism and progressivism in the historical Republican party. There's no real ideological core to these ersatz party leaders. Their only true interests are self-promotion, and yet, their "ideas" have more influence over the character of the modern Republican party than even the ideas and expressed beliefs of the party's founders!
posted by saulgoodman at 8:12 AM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ugh. Generalizing members of a political party is not equivalent to racism, St. Alia.

I agree that with the point that each political party has broad spectrum of people ranging from intelligent to lunatic, and not all members of a political party are ignorant racist jerks. But generalizing members of a political party, with elected leaders, platforms, and spokespeople, that is COMPLETELY different than racism. And if you can't see the difference, well's I guess that's the problem. Otherwise, choose a better analogy, next time.
posted by jabberjaw at 8:20 AM on January 14, 2011


Generalizing members of a political party is not equivalent to racism, St. Alia.

She's not implying it's equivalent on some kind of Unified Spectrum Of Evil Deeds, though.

She's saying that both of them have a root cause -- and that root cause is the act of making generalizations about an entire group of people. And making generalizations about an entire group of people is Not Good, because it leads to both smaller problems (generalizing members of a political party, generalizing members of a web site, generalizing members of a given fan club, etc.) as well as bigger problems (racism, sexism, etc.)

You're correct that it's not equitable on the Evil Kelvin scale -- but isn't it still a good idea to not do it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:41 AM on January 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's pretty clear that the entire message the President tried to make the other night was lost on some of you.
posted by crunchland at 9:29 AM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


She's saying that both of them have a root cause -- and that root cause is the act of making generalizations about an entire group of people.

Nope. Still fundamentally different.

Race involves a group of people that were born a certain way, and have no control over the color of their skin. But they have full control over the content of their character, but are sometimes discriminated against on the basis of something they have no control over.

Political parties involve a group of like-minded people who hold a common set of political beliefs. I.e., you're not born Republican.

I agree that making generalizations of people is, for the most part, inappropriate. I think a better analogy (though still flawed) is to compare it to generalizing people that live in a particular region of the country. Generalizing party members is bad, the same way as generalizing everybody that lives in New Jersey is bad.

Comparing the generalization of a political party to racism is inappropriate. It can feed into a delusional persecution complex that is not even close to comparable to what people have endured due to their racial backgrounds.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:48 AM on January 14, 2011


For goodness sake, the word you're looking for is "stereotype." As in typecast, pigeonhole.

See also, prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination.
posted by zennie at 10:31 AM on January 14, 2011


Let me get this straight, jabberjaw - you agree with the meat of what St. Alia is saying, but instead of turning the discussion to "great, how can we move forward and not make generalizations about each other, you're choosing to take up time by arguing about the words she chose to express the point you're agreeing with her about?

....Okay, which one are you pretending to be -- Michael Palin or John Cleese?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:13 PM on January 14, 2011


> Political parties involve a group of like-minded people who hold a common set of political beliefs. I.e., you're not born Republican.

Rush and/or Glenn: Democrats are bad people and should be eliminated.

Random Commenter: Republicans are bad people.


Well, Random Commenter, gonna drop that other shoe? Or just stand there holding it?
posted by jfuller at 12:22 PM on January 14, 2011


Although I don't know what they are averaging when they say "average" (average of their models?).

I'm pretty sure it's the average number of viewers over the length of the broadcast, so there were more people who watched some portion of it. Generally only the Super Bowl and Academy Awards can pull in that many people.
posted by kittyprecious at 1:01 PM on January 14, 2011


I think Riki Tiki's posts, although ugly, are fundamentally correct. The exhortations to civility in this thread are great, and I agree with those too, and I think there are ways to formulate one's opinions that are more desirable than others, and I hope we all try to remember that.

But here's the thing. WE (meaning those Americans who identify as left of center) have not coyly encouraged the public to murder elected officials. THEY have.

This "let's all stop being so negative" attitude that a lot of people want to have as the takeaway from this tragedy is nice in principle, but if it means scolding and shushing everyone who says "hey look the Republicans did really a bad thing and need to be held accountable for it", well that kind of civility is not worth much as far I'm concerned.
posted by chaff at 1:18 PM on January 14, 2011


if it means scolding and shushing everyone who says "hey look the Republicans did really a bad thing and need to be held accountable for it", well that kind of civility is not worth much as far I'm concerned.

I agree. However, I also feel that there is a difference between "hey the Republicans did a bad thing" and "hey the Republicans ARE bad". And there is a bigger difference between "hey the Republicans did a bad thing and need to be held accountable for it" and "hey all Republicans are dumb and ignorant and kick puppies and I hear they also smell like pig vomit and they totally drink out of the toilet" or whatever.

I don't think anyone here is saying "don't say they did a bad thing". I think people are only saying "let's lay off the 'pig vomit' stuff, at least".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:33 PM on January 14, 2011


Sorry, EmpressCallipygos. I'm just tired of some people manufacturing persecution because of their political leanings here in the U.S., and I just thought that legitimizing the analogy to racism was like being an enabler.
posted by jabberjaw at 3:20 PM on January 14, 2011


Jabberjaw, if you are comfortable labeling everyone who is listed on the voter rolls with an R as a bad person, I have a problem with that. That is just flat lazy thinking.

Now if you want to say Republican LEADERS or SPOKESPEOPLE or whatever in your opinion are evil or bad or peabrained, go right ahead. I still think you'd be wrong, but these are the people who are in the media and say things and presumably can support their positions or not.

But I am not comfortable, for instance, with you slapping your labels on a sweet older lady I know who works in the party, brings covered dish desserts to meetings, and goes to ladies luncheons. There are plenty of Republican positions that one might disagree with but could not in any conceivable universe be construed with as evil. There are Republicans of every sort. Log Cabin Republicans. RINO republicans. Yes, tea party republicans. Rockefeller Republicans. And the set I belong to-Republicans who will never ever consider becoming a Democrat as long as they continue to support one particular issue.

I don't vote straight party tickets, either (don't tell anyone.) And many Republicans I know don't either.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:20 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


David Brooks : "I think what has to come is a sense of humility, that the reason people behave civilly to one another is because, alone, no one has the resources to really conduct an intelligent policy, that you need the conversation, you need the back-and-forth, and that's where you get your meaning. And, if you don't respect that conversation, if you think you can do it alone, your side has 100 percent of the truth, then of course you're going to behave uncivilly."
posted by crunchland at 7:23 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jon Stewart Mocks Right-Wing Nitpicking Of Tucson Memorial Service [video | 08:18].
posted by ericb at 8:25 AM on January 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Okay, I've had a few days to reflect on my post...

...and I love how in the meantime St. Alia has argued, not once but twice, that republicans aren't all bad people because sometimes they're less republican than others.

Jeez, you'd think I'd dropped "republicans are bad people" into the thread absent any context or qualification. In case I didn't make it explicitly clear when I explicitly said it, bad people can be good people in other ways. But being a republican, voting republican, when you're in the voting booth and it's between you and your god and Diebold? That's bad.

We've lived with the republican persecution complex for so long, maybe it's shocking to some of you to see me actually persecuting them with my oh-so-harsh mean words. What if some lone nut were to read my comment and do something crazy, like go up to a republican congresswoman and criticize her right in the head?

Please. The difference in rhetoric is clear, and the people with the bad policies are the ones using the bad rhetoric because otherwise why would they have to?

I've made my case as to why I think republican policies are bad. I've made it before on this site and others, and I'll continue to make it in the future. Yes, it's divisive for me to do that... the question is, if you agree they're bad policies, why aren't you dividing against it?

That's what I think Obama missed. The controversy here isn't about national unity, it's about the escalation of the debate beyond rational terms and into batshitcrazytown. We can and should be divisive as long as it's based on actual, reasonable differences of opinion. And being united won't protect us from lies and fearmongering.
posted by Riki tiki at 8:36 PM on January 17, 2011


Lies and fearmongering are not limited to any one political group as long as human beings are the members.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:58 AM on January 18, 2011


That's what I think Obama missed. The controversy here isn't about national unity, it's about the escalation of the debate beyond rational terms and into batshitcrazytown. We can and should be divisive as long as it's based on actual, reasonable differences of opinion. And being united won't protect us from lies and fearmongering.

Again, no one is saying "they may be trying to repeal the health bill, but MERCY, they all love their mothers, so be nice!" People -- and I count myself along with St. Alia in this -- are saying that "call individuals on their own bullshit, and call them on the bullshit alone."

You've made your case as to why you think Republican POLICIES are bad. That's not the same as making the case as to why REPUBLICANS are bad. Argue the policy all you like, and I'm right there with you. But when you go from "Repealing the health care bill would suck huge rocks" to "the people who vote 'yes' on repealing it should be punched in the dick," then I'm gonna say "not fair."

You're right that it's about the escalation of the debate into batshitcrazytown. But part of the way back from batshitrcrazy is telling the difference between what is batshitcrazy and what's not, and who's saying the batshitcrazy and who isn't.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:42 AM on January 18, 2011


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