“It did not.”
Ed Morrissey claims those three words in the President’s Tucson speech last night were off script. The President spoke them in the moment; they were not in the pre-released text of the speech.
In context …
And 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 – it did not – 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.
A powerful and appropriate off-the-cuff by the President — the very point where I turned to my wife as we watched the speech last night and said to her, “Exactly. Good call.”
This morning, I went immediately to the conservative blogosphere, to see if any of its netizens were equally impressed. Obviously, Morrissey was. Martin was, too. Even Malkin conceded, with caveats, that it was the “right speech.”
Of course, as Mataconis warns at OTB:
I think the reaction on the right as the day unfolds will be closer to Malkin’s cynicism than the Martin’s pleasant surprise. Once the Becks, Limbaugh’s and Hannity put their spin on the President’s word, the marching orders on the right will be to compare last night’s memorial service to the rather distasteful politicization that marked Paul Wellstone’s funeral a few years ago.
If that’s the tack they take, they’ll be wrong. Last night was the best speech of Barack Obama’s short Presidency. He said the right thing, at the right time, in the right place. The people who reject the sentiment he appealed to, whether on the left or the right, are only displaying their own cynicism and the dark core of their own souls.
In terms of what happens next, if I were advising the White House, I’d suggest this: Start a dialogue now with Speaker Boehner about an appropriate gesture of decency during the SOTU on Jan. 25. Perhaps take the unusual (unprecedented?) approach of the President asking the Speaker to the podium, where they together could acknowledge that, while they will often disagree on policy, they are equally committed to civility in their future debates.
Obama to Boehner: “As a fellow American, you deserve and will, without fail, receive my respect, Mr. Speaker, even when — especially when — we disagree.”
Boehner to Obama: “You also deserve and will, without fail, receive my respect, Mr. President. We have different views, but we are both Americans with the best intentions for our country.”
They shake hands. The room erupts in applause. Cue the credits. Welcome to Pete’s Naive World of Impossible Moments.
Post Script: I did not intend to focus on four conservative bloggers with last names that start with the letter “M.” Purely coincidental.