Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The President's Arizona Speech . . .

. . . wasn’t bad. It was, in fact, pretty good in the respects that mattered. Oh, it was too long, and he’ll probably be blamed for trying to take credit for the miracle of Congressman Giffords’s eyes opening after his visit, but he said some very good things about avoiding the quick and easy conclusions, and asserted with some heat that the current state of political discourse was not responsible for this tragedy. For that he deserves credit.

President Obama after his Tucson speech.
A couple of other thoughts:

       (1) Was anyone else embarrassed at the behavior of the University of Arizona student body?  While most of the speakers' remarks were very fitting, the constant cheering and calling out of the students -- to my ear, mostly female, but I couldn't swear to it -- made the whole thing difficult to watch.  I was watching the Fox News feed of the speech and the accompanying commentary, which was complimentary to the President.  It was also very tolerant of the screaming and hollering that accompanied what was supposed to be a memorial.  In large measure, the cheering seemed to be a hysterically celebratory reaction to the presence of President Obama in Tucson. Not his fault, and in fact he himself seemed rather discomfited at the students’ inappropriate behavior. The Fox guys seemed to think it was – well, I’m not entirely sure what they thought, but they didn’t disapprove. If I were that university president, whatever his name was, I’d have been mortified.

       (2) The Obama Administration has certainly discovered religion. The President, Attorney General Holder, and Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano each made extensive and specific references to the Bible and the Christian God.

       (3)  The President's oratorical skill has been much remarked on, and he is indeed a fine speaker.  But something has changed since he last burst on the scene with his notable appearance before the Democratic National Convention in 2004.   As I said, I didn't hear much to dislike in his speech lats night, and a couple of things to like, but it rhetorically it was a pretty ho-hum speech.  His delivery has been decidedly influenced by his reliance on teleprompters, and their absence last night may have had something to do with it.  (I think they were absent -- I didn't see them.)  He doesn't seem to know what to do with his head.  He swings it from side to side, as though moving from prompter screen to prompter screen.  And the content -- just OK.  I tried to imagine George W. Bush giving the same speech and I found it quite easy to do.  If Bush had delivered the line about the little girl splashing in rain puddles in heaven, he'd have been hooted off the screen by the MSM.

       I think there's one more thing -- he's lost his listeners' trust with his performance over the past two years.  Phrases that rang in 2008 sound insincere and scripted in 2011.  He's lost the benefit of the doubt, and it's been replaced by -- doubt.

       (4)  I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – at the risk of making a political point as the winds of the Tucson storm continue to swirl around us – do not underestimate Barack Obama. He made points tonight. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an uptick, maybe a material one, in his personal popularity.

       And 2012 is a century off.

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