What was billed as a “memorial service” in Arizona last night was more of a pep-rally and celebration of life. It was complete with sloganeering, bumper stickers, and t-shirts.It is what was needed.What’s more, Mr. Obama gave a stunning rebuke to his own base who’ve engaged in a horrific blame game all week.
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.
Contrast that with what his supporters have been up to all week. It is disgusting. Let us also not forget that the President’s own Democratic advisors were hoping he would seize on this moment as a way to polarize the country against the right and the tea party movement.While many will say parts of his speech were campaign-ish, let’s not forget that the President has failed miserably at every speech he has given as President. So a campaign style speech was the only way for him to deliver.And I think he did as a President must do.But can he himself, the man who implored Democratic voters to “punish our enemies” and only recently referred to Republicans as “hostage takers” live up to his own words?This is, after all, a man who got his political start in the home of a terrorist who’d dedicated a book to Robert F. Kennedy’s killer — a man who never repented but who Mr. Obama then gave grant money to.Will the President live up to his own standard? Everyone can change. Everyone can repent. Let’s hope this President will.But there is much that still must be done and much the left must still learn.Yesterday, Governor Sarah Palin delivered a video address on the mess in Arizona. For a week, the left has blamed Palin, not Loughner, for the shooting. Then they attacked her for not responding. Then they attacked her for her response and using the phrase “blood libel,” a perfectly legitimately use of it given what she and the right have been subjected to this week.But the left pounced.All week long, the left has said Jared Loughner was persuaded to try to kill Congresswoman Giffords because of right-wing hate. We know that was not true. But here is what else I am sure of.Out there somewhere is someone who would love to kill Governor Palin. God forbid they do it. But you and I both know there is some crazy MSNBC watcher and Media Matters reader who even now is dreaming of doing so.And should they try, we can be equally sure of something else. The left will be divided into two camps: (1) bitch deserved it and (2) not my fault.It is unfortunate. I hope it never happens. But you and I both know the reality in which we live.