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Posted at 11:32 AM ET, 01/13/2011

Obama's Tucson speech: pep rally or memorial service?

By Melissa Bell
Obama speech
An attendee displays a placard during the memorial event in Tucson, Arizona. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

When President Obama took the podium at Wednesday night's memorial service in Tucson, Ariz., he was greeted with the unbridled excitement of a college campus embracing their commander in chief. Cheers and screams and hoots continued even after he asked for people to sit down. As he started his eulogy, with the somber words, "To the families of those we've lost," voices still cheered and at least three people shouted out, "We love you!"

It was not the way most memorial services usually kick off.

Obama's speech has been getting rave reviews, though some critics have said it should have come days earlier. However, the venue -- a college basketball arena -- and the spirit of the crowd during parts of the event has raised critics' ire. Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin, a frequent Obama critic, wrote, "Will there be giant foam fingers and blue cotton candy, too?"

Other conservative writers said the event seemed like a pep rally, rather than a solemn occasion. Some questioned the wisdom of audience members who chose to boo one of the speakers, Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican.

Others, such as John Dickerson of Slate, were not turned off by the noise. Dickerson wrote:

The noise was perfect. Not because the president's words were powerful, though they were, but because the scene matched this moment of noisy distractions. The solemnity of the event was interrupted in the same way the period after the shooting has been interrupted by the political debate. The president's job was to move past both--to get a message out and through the noise so the country could hear. If it can be done, he did it.

At memorial services for other incidents of national tragedy, the atmosphere has been decidedly more somber. During former president Bill Clinton's speech after the Oklahoma bombing memorial, for example, applause broke out only a few times, and the clapping was much more subdued.

Some big differences exist, however. Much of the focus was on the hope for the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 other victims who are still healing from their injuries. The crowd Wednesday night responded joyfully, especially to the news that Giffords had opened one eye in the hospital a short time earlier, and to Obama's praise of the heroism of Giffords intern Daniel Hernandez.

The venue also differed. Clinton gave his speech at a State Fair arena, whereas a college hosted Obama. The college students created the logo, and passed out t-shirts for the event, possibly imbuing it with more of a pep rally feel.

When questioning during the White House press briefing on Thursday, Robert Gibbs said the president had not expected that kind of response, but the audience was "celebrating the miracle of those who survived."

Your take: Did the cheers, did the joyful attitude bother you? Should the atmosphere have been more somber or was it the right response?

Let us know what your thoughts by using the hashtag #toneintucson or leave your thoughts in the comments.

By Melissa Bell  | January 13, 2011; 11:32 AM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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Comments

Had to stop watching it. It made me sick. This was a time to reflect on death. Tragedy. Family members and friends in mourning. And these classless people cheered.

Posted by: MillionSix | January 13, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I too was astounded by the inane morons who yelled and cheered during this memorial service. However, it sounded like it was a fairly small group of stupid college girls who were making most of the inappropriate noise. Some people just cannot seem to take advantage of that heavy weight that sits atop their shoulders.

Posted by: amlguy | January 13, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Another opportunity for Obama to fill the seats so he can feed his ego and get his 2012 campaign rolling on national TV. This sickens me.

Posted by: jdgrillo | January 13, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand this. Do people think memorial services have to be depressing, painful affairs? The people of Tuscon have the same spirit and idea that I have: this should be a celebration of lives, not a period to silently wallow in self-pity.

These "classless people" are the ones who had their loved ones taken from them by a madman. They're not going to stop their lives or stare blankly at their feet. They're not going to let chaos and violence control their lives. They're going to stand up and honor those who have passed, take the energy and love that those people had within them, and spread it to the entire world. That's what this country is about: standing back up the SECOND you get knocked down.

The idea that a memorial service has to be quiet is foolish. Those who died deserve better than us staring at our feet and twiddling our thumbs. This is when we should all be shouting for peace, and getting energized for civility in discourse. And in the spirit of those lost, I truly feel for those who don't understand that this is how you heal from a tragedy.

To the people of Tuscon: don't EVER stop. Keep shouting, keep moving, keep healing. Don't let anyone stand in your way. Hopefully we as a country can heal together instead of pointing the blame, and pointing blame at those who are pointing blame.

Posted by: Patientology | January 13, 2011 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand this. Do people think memorial services have to be depressing, painful affairs? The people of Tuscon have the same spirit and idea that I have: this should be a celebration of lives, not a period to silently wallow in self-pity.

These "classless people" are the ones who had their loved ones taken from them by a madman. They're not going to stop their lives or stare blankly at their feet. They're not going to let chaos and violence control their lives. They're going to stand up and honor those who have passed, take the energy and love that those people had within them, and spread it to the entire world. That's what this country is about: standing back up the SECOND you get knocked down.

The idea that a memorial service has to be quiet is foolish. Those who died deserve better than us staring at our feet and twiddling our thumbs. This is when we should all be shouting for peace, and getting energized for civility in discourse. And in the spirit of those lost, I truly feel for those who don't understand that this is how you heal from a tragedy.

To the people of Tuscon: don't EVER stop. Keep shouting, keep moving, keep healing. Don't let anyone stand in your way. Hopefully we as a country can heal together instead of pointing the blame, and pointing blame at those who are pointing blame.

Posted by: Patientology | January 13, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I thought the memorial gathering's resulting tone and speeches were excellent. Consider the stakeholders and their needs: families of the dead - their loved ones were remembered, honored and proved to have not died in vein; families of the recovering victims - all of the American people are hoping for their speedy recovery; the American People - our values remain constant and this tragedy gives us another (all too frequent) opportunity to prove to ourselves that we can sustain ourselves in the face of such unexplainable acts; the press, bloggers and commentators - the story is relevant to the times and readers' concerns - the tone and speakers' content and style hold many lessons for everyone on the surrounding their concerns - political civility, gun control, mental illness and our responsibilities to others around us in society.

Posted by: hcypress1 | January 13, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

To those complaining about the cheering and applause at the service for the victims of last week's shooting .
I'm from Tucson. One thing I have learned from this: until it happens in your town you can never fully understand the trauma of this kind tragedy. There were tears at the service and in the homes of those watching as well.
And yes, there was cheering too:
Because audience was mostly young college students.
Because Giffords opened her eyes for the first time since she was shot.
Because of Daniel Hernandez heroism and compassion saved Giffords' life.
Because the first responders and the staff at UMC who waded through the blood deserved our thanks.
Because a man's last action save his wife.
Because the heroism of two of our elders cut the carnage short.
Because after years of having our faults broadcast the nation was able see to our strength and decency.
Because our hearts are broken and we have been numb and/or crying for days.
Because there were survivors!
Because each speaker understood that a good memorial service is a celebration of life.
Because we are human beings with a wide range of emotions and we are grieving in our own way, and decorum or the expectations of outsiders means nothing.

Larry Waters

Posted by: waterswheel | January 13, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I am by no means a fan of Obama, but yesterday he proved he is Presidential, while Sarah Palin proved that she most definitely is NOT. Any hope of her winning against him in 2012 is gone, and the GOP had better get off their collective behinds and find a new candidate to groom, QUICK. The less her name is mentioned between now and November 2012, the better their chances will be.

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | January 13, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I am by no means a fan of Obama, but yesterday he proved he is Presidential, while Sarah Palin proved that she most definitely is NOT. Any hope of her winning against him in 2012 is gone, and the GOP had better get off their collective behinds and find a new candidate to groom, QUICK. The less her name is mentioned between now and November 2012, the better their chances will be.

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | January 13, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Obviously, there are too many people who have not attended "Christian" memorial or funeral services. As a rule, these services provide times for reflection as well as for being lifted up. Humor is often interjected, especially if the deceased was humorous.

By and large, people who would be critical of the memorial service yesterday in Tucson do not understand human psychological and motional needs and sense of reverence in such a time as this.

From the noise that I have heard, the displeasure comes from those who would not give Obama the time of day.

Posted by: EarlC | January 13, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

After two years of fierce public opposition to his legislation and policies and steadily falling approval ratings, this one speech at a pep rally with the full Hollywood treatment is going to get him reelected.
I don’t get it.
Have the American people, after many months of appearing to come to their senses, suffered a relapse??

Posted by: TEDWINT | January 13, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

For those of you that criticized anything about last night, shame on you. Everyone mourns differently. Let us grieve. Last night was the first uplifting event since the shooting in this town - it's what we needed. It gave those that lost someone they loved a chance to reflect and be proud of their loved one. It showed the that we care about the victims, and came together to celebrate their lives and support this town! Being here in Tucson and going through these events with everyone else here, we definitely needed something to lift our spirits.

Posted by: jtucson1 | January 13, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

The Great Deceiver has done it again using Rahm Emanuel's advice of never letting a good crisis go to waste. And the American Idol sheep are falling all over themselves for it once more.

Posted by: MillionSix | January 13, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

They can't find anything to criticize on Obama's speech, so they turn against the audience. An audience made mostly of hopeful, good-natured college students who are eager to make this a better country. The fact that this newspaper is helping to propagate the shameful talking points of the worst of the right-wing pundits takes my feelings of hope -which were raised by the beautiful memorial last night- down a notch.

Posted by: lccc1 | January 13, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

The theme they created was "Together We Thrive" but they cheered Democrats and booed Republicans. Strange way to demonstrate togetherness.

Posted by: cyberpunk1 | January 13, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

They can't find anything to criticize on Obama's speech, so they turn against the audience. An audience made mostly of hopeful, good-natured college students who are eager to make this a better country. The fact that this newspaper is helping to propagate the shameful talking points of the worst of the right-wing pundits takes my feelings of hope -which were raised by the beautiful memorial last night- down a notch.

Posted by: lccc1 | January 13, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I liked most parts of his speech but I have to admit I was a bit uncomfortable with the pep rally atmosphere. Also what was the deal on handing out t-shits at a funeral? That also struck me a strange.

Posted by: Blogball | January 13, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

This was not a memorial service for the Dead, it was a pep rally for Obama. Handing out tshirts and having banners and screaming was too much for me. I had to turn it off. I feel sorry for the families of the dead. Obama knew what was happening and he could have held this in a church setting with a priest and a minister. This was only politics to help Obama.

Posted by: esa67 | January 13, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Indeed. The Teleprompter did a fine job... but who got "best actress"?

If TheObamateur was president in 1863, historians would recall The Gettysburg Address as "Gettysburg-apolooza!"

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 13, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Obama SHOULD NOT have been there. It was a local matter.

He used this event to CAMPAIGN again! They even handed out thousands of T-shirts stating: "Together we can Strive".....

Utter nonsense to any reasoned person.

Yeah, keep it classy O.

Shameless political whoring of a senseless tragedy. imho

Posted by: Rubiconski | January 13, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

The theme they created was "Together We Thrive" but they cheered Democrats and booed Republicans. Strange way to demonstrate togetherness.

Posted by: cyberpunk1 | January 13, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

The pep rally that was on display at a memorial service was a disgrace and it shows how far down some people have come. I recognize that it does not always have to be so somber but it could certainly be a lot more respectful than what was demonstrated at this event. Obama is a disgraceful person who only thinks about his agenda. This was nothing more than a campaign stop for him. Obama go back to Chicago and continue organizing you have done enough damage to this country as president.

Posted by: jerry110 | January 13, 2011 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I thought that Obama speech was excellent until about the last 5 minutes when it started to turn into a pep rally when he raised his voice and started sounding like the same person who gave the acceptance speech in Denver. This is where he lost me as a conserative Republican where I felt that he was giving a great non political speech and then everything changed.

Posted by: sales7 | January 13, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

So now we're attacking the community who ACTUALLY suffered this tragedy because they aren't behaving in a way that meets our standards? Palin narcissism is infectious I see.

Posted by: NMP1 | January 13, 2011 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I want to give Governor Brewer some credit too. She was able to rise to the occasion beyond my estimate of her ability... unlike a certain sort-of governor of a northern state who will go unmentioned here.

Posted by: OldUncleTom | January 13, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

A memorial service is a remembrance service of the dead. This was a political rally booing republicans, cheering, cat calls, slogans and t-shirts http://i.azcentral.com/commphotos/view/442818.jpg

Posted by: andrewmills | January 13, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I could appreciate the applause for Gifford's improvement and for the heroism of a fellow student, but I was really disappointed with the whistles and calls. I wonder how the students feel about it this morning. It sounded like there were a few drunken students wondering when the basketball game was going to begin; but lots of students that really love this president.

It's sad that it's not his words that are being given the most attention on the right.

Posted by: julie10 | January 13, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

This was Obama's "Reichstag Fire".

Look it up if you don't know your history

Posted by: CarlosHawes | January 13, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

It seems like these days everyone always has something bad to say about Obama. I thought he did a pretty good job, give him some credit FOR ONCE. i found this video the other day of one of the Beatles best song ever made with a cool twist. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8Aa5tJeyK4
I think its pretty appropriate.

Posted by: TracyLove56 | January 13, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Tee shirts and a concession stands at a MEMORIAL SERVICE????

The tragedy has now been successfully branded and does mark the official start of the Obama 2012 campaign.

Disgusting beyond belief.

Posted by: CarlosHawes | January 13, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I dont know what the big concern is. This seems like a provacative question. One thing about it though, to those that are carping about the wonderful celebration of life that happened last nitght; comparing it to a pep rally,etc., why dont you worry about your own final ceremony. People have a right to celebrate death the way they choose. If it was okay with the victims families and citizens of Tucson, who the heck cares about what you think. Let me guess what's going to happen when your sorry a--- check out of here. Based upon the hostility and hatefulness espoused in this forum, I think it's pretty safe to assume that you are mean and evil people in life as well as you are on this site. I also feel Pretty certain that there wont be anyone that has ever loved you enough in your life, and that's why your so eager to export your miserable existences. Unless you change your evil ways, there wont be enough people that care will care enough about you to even show up for your funerals. You haters remind me of a guy that I knew when I was in the Army many years ago. Unfortunately, the guy died in a car accident and for several weeks, even though everyone knew that he had family members, no one would step forward to claim the body. After several weeks, a family member finally and reluctantly showed up to make the arrangements. I asked the family member why there had been so much trouble in getting this guy laid to rest. He shared with me that in fact, his cousins reputation was that he was so hateful, mean and "evil," that everyone that know him loathed him and adamantly refused to participate in burying him. The sum total of his life was that only 2 relatives showed up to send this guy off, and one of the relatives was so drunk it was as if he wasn't there either. All you hateful individuals out there with a chip on your shoulder could learn from this experience. The truth is...even though you may think that people care for you if you are in fact as mean and evil as you demonstrate in this forum, I guarantee you....your "friends" and "associates" probably hate you as well. Try to remember that when your days are coming to an end.


Posted by: ruthella10 | January 13, 2011 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Obama presented the families with one of the lovely "Together We Thrive" T-shirts and placards printed up for this "Memorial Service." Or perhaps one of the 53 interruptions for cheers and whoops from the organized crowd made them feel better.

Or maybe Obama gave them a collection of his own speeches on an i-pod? Or a DVD set from Walmart.

Obama just OOZES class and good taste....

Posted by: pgr88 | January 13, 2011 2:25 PM | Report abuse

The comments that Melissa Bell made in her article explain well the similarities and differeces between this event and previous events. Each event, like most court cases, are one of a kind. Each must be conducted based on a host of variables, most of which cannot be controlled. The people that need to be particularly somber and reverent are those who may in some way have produced the atmosphere that would make a tragic event like this seem like the logical outcome. When we learn that words do matter will go a long ways toward helping our society mature. As it is, some elements of our society are not too far removed from caveman days.

Posted by: EarlC | January 13, 2011 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I was expecting to see Metallica come out on stage at any second with all the cheering and hollering going on.

Obama can't even hold a proper memorial service without turning it into a political rally. They have NO respect at all for those killed by their own kind.

What is wrong with Leftists?

*sick*sick*sick*

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 13, 2011 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I found the cheering a bit different, but apparently part of the healing of the people of Tucson. The president's speech was both inspirational and spoke perfectly to the occasion. This stood in contrast to the invocation of Dr. Carlos Gonzalez.
My question has nothing to do with Mr. Gonzalez faith, but rather his apparent disconnection from the reason for the service. The long personal biography and rambling,extended discussion of his personal biography,and family, with only a passing reference to the victims and the tragedy was wholly inappropri­ate for the occasion. In a comparitiv­e religion or Native American culture class or seminar, I would find such a broad discussion fascinatin­g and rewarding. As an invocation to a memorial, I found it incredibly self-direc­ted and virtually silent on the tragedy of Saturday. He seemed intent on grabbing his "15 minutes of fame" to lecture to the kind of nationwide captive audience he might never have again. Rather than letting this be about the victims, it was all about him. Very sad.

Posted by: mybandy | January 13, 2011 2:43 PM | Report abuse

A few days before this concert they had real memorial services at a Catholic church. A Rabbi was there and they had 9 little girls who were in Christina’s choir come in and sing Amazing Grace.

That was a respectful Memorial. The families were able to greave and were embraced by those whom really matter.

The sideshow freak-fest must have been a shock to these poor people. I noticed the Husband of Gabby’s was non-plussed during the show. I saw him shake his head a few times, albeit slightly. Guess he didn’t want the media riding him about it.

God Bless those who have injured and murdered families. They will one day be able to heal from this tragedy and move on with their lives.

I have a feeling Obama and his media toadies just made a whole batch of new conservatives over this epic embarrassment.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 13, 2011 2:44 PM | Report abuse

We've all heard people say that they would rather their funerals be "celebrations of life" than mournful events. This event seemed to strike the right tone, since not only were they (and the nation) celebrating the lives that were lost, but also the good news of those who survived and those who acted heroically to save them. I was moved by the speeches and readings as well as the selflessness of the young intern who saved Congresswoman Giffords' life. The cheering by the student audience was a bit much, but I don't see how anyone could blame our president or the organizers for that.

Posted by: valandsend | January 13, 2011 2:48 PM | Report abuse

First memorial service I've heard with cheering.....

Posted by: JWMeritt | January 13, 2011 2:49 PM | Report abuse

First memorial service I've heard with cheering.....

Posted by: JWMeritt | January 13, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

No matter what Obama does, the rabid right (who still can't accept the reality that America elected a young, intelligent black President) will scold, blame and find fault with him like some crazed Mother Superior whacking middle school girls on the knuckles with a ruler.

Posted by: areyousaying | January 13, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Obama SHOULD NOT have been there. It was a local matter.

Posted by: Rubiconski

An assassination attempt on a US Congressman is NOT a local matter.

Do you think that because she's a Jew and a Democrat it's insignificant?

Posted by: areyousaying | January 13, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

There are young adults (taking their cue from real leaders) who know how to act appropriately at a college campus memorial for victims of mass murder.

FLASHBACK: President Bush @ VTech
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=zdvpw86_qkg

In stark contrast, Obamateur's performance at Tucson-apolooza was disgraceful.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 13, 2011 2:57 PM | Report abuse

When Chuck Schumer from NY shows up for a "Memorial Service" in AZ, it means only one thing - the TV cameras are ON!

Posted by: pgr88 | January 13, 2011 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I am ashamed of all the detractors posting on this subject. Who are you to dictate what is or is not reverent enough? Were you there? Did you see the memorial service in its entirety? Or did you just see what was televised?

Obama's speech was more than appropriate. It was inspiring and uplifting. These are such divisive times in which we live, and all of you are fanning the flames, rather than just let the man speak.

I feel like if he was too somber, you'd bust him for that. If he didn't show up (as an earlier poster stated, as it was a local affair), he'd be demonized.

You are what's wrong with this country.

Posted by: penance091 | January 13, 2011 3:01 PM | Report abuse

[areyousaying spat: "Do you think that because she's a Jew"]

You are aware the Weatherman-disciple shooter was also Jewish?

I agree Obama should have been there. But where was Obama's contrition for contributing to the Weatherman indoctrination of this lunatic Leftist shooter?

Obama desparately wants us to focus on our "feelings"-- rather than the Leftist shooters discipleship with Obama mentor, Bill Ayers.

AZ Shooter is Leftist-terrorist Bill Ayers disciple
http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=249429#ixzz1AfFPHymn

"Jared Lee Loughner, the suspected gunman in Saturday's Arizona shooting, attended a high school that is part of a network in which teachers are trained and provided resources by a liberal group founded by Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers and funded by President Obama..."

I eagerly await the MSM’s strong denunciation of Obama’s indoctrination.

Own him, Leftists. He's all yours.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 13, 2011 3:05 PM | Report abuse

My opinon: Tuscon had the right to have the kind of memorial they chose to plan. As someone invited to speak, it was President Obama's task to speak within the context of that service with healing and love. He did that.

Posted by: tinyjab40 | January 13, 2011 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Lighten. The. Hell. Up. At my mother's memorial service, we played Eric Clapton songs over the PA. The funeral home director told us later he hoped when it's his time, his kids gave him a service like my mother got. Anybody who is complaining about "the noise" or the atmosphere, just save time and say up front that you're a Republican who doesn't like anything Obama does, because clearly that's what's going on here.

Posted by: TomR3 | January 13, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I attended the memorial service and was a little disturbed at times by the audience's timing in applause, but for the most part, it was a great way for the community to honor the victims of this tragedy.

Though I disagree with President Obama on a great many issues, I think his speech was spot on.

Yes, there was some inappropriate shouts for the occasion--I sat near a lady who from her response to the president, could have been confused with an evangelical giving praise at church--but overall I think the audience and the speakers were there for the right reasons (i.e. to honor the victims and thank those who came to their aid).

Concerning the complaints over the T-shirts as cited in other articles, when I received one, the volunteer told me they were funded by Student Affairs. If anyone is truly offended by them, then they didn't listen to President Obama's speech. The memorial was not intended to stir up more political vitriol nor should it.

Posted by: razon | January 13, 2011 3:21 PM | Report abuse

As always, the anonymity afforded by the internet brings out the worst in people. A few of the posters here show an irrational obsession with Obama, blaming him for the attitude of the audience (at an event organized by the university, not by Obama) and imaging conspiracies that do not exist (a network of schools financed by arch-villian Ayers?). It feels like I've seen this exact type of thing before, when reading over the internet postings of Jared Lee Loughner. When the online world is filled with people who act crazy, it's hard to identify the truely dangerous ones until it's too late.

That said, I agree whole-heartedly with the previous posters who are from Tucson. While I can't even begin to imagine the pain felt by the victims and their family members, I know for a fact that myself and the rest of the city have had a pretty miserable week. It's been impossible to think about anything else and thinking about it hasn't made things feel any better.

I was certainly surprised at first with the attitude of the audience, but very quickly I realized how nice to was to feel something resembling happiness. It felt great to watch a celebration of the good in most people, rather than try to understand the bad in one. It felt great to have some sort of hope that even though something horrible happened maybe something good would come of it.

I can't imagine what the survivors of the attack and the families of the victims are feeling right now. But for people elsewhere, if the event failed to live up to your expectations about how we here should be feeling or acting, then too bad. It was certainly what I and my friends here needed.

Posted by: biggles2 | January 13, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

What's blatantly clear today is that some Americans will never be happy with ANYTHING associated with President Obama. It's also obvious that many on the right are shameless liars, as evidenced by the "outrage" over t-shirts being passed out last night.

The shirts were bought and distributed by the University of Arizona, the sponsor of the memorial, yet despite being informed of this FACT, right-wing blogs continue to blame "White House operatives" and use this as evidence of a planned political rally.

I truly want to embrace the spirit of unity the President spoke of, but how is that even possible when we're faced with so many people obviously lacking in integrity? How do you reason with those who've decided that facts no longer matter?

Posted by: shstl | January 13, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

[shstl chirped: "The shirts were bought and distributed by the University of Arizona"]

Can folks safely assume you wear it to proudly "THRIVE" on others' suffering?

You betcha'!

*tasteless*

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 13, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I keep hearing in the comments that the audience booed Governor Brewer--I was there and I didn't hear it. Maybe someone near the camera's or microphones booed, but from where I sat, I didn't hear any boos. Granted she didn't have the same reception as Napolitano, but to make it sound like the whole audience was booing Governor Brewer is unwarranted.

Let's stop trying to politicize this event, whether you're Republican or Democrat, accept the fact that maybe there was some bad timing in the applause and that a few people in the audience went a little overboard, but don't dishonor the victims of last Saturday's tragedy by politicizing the memorial service. As a Republican myself, I think the event was appropriate and well done for the most part, and I was happy to sit together with an audience that clearly consisted of more Democrats. "Together We Stand" was an appropriate theme and continues to be so.

Posted by: razon | January 13, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I want to know why Leftists aren't planning an unhinged Leftist rent-a-mob rally against ObaMao’s summary execution of three (un-Mirandized!) Somali teens at sea.

Afterall, that tactic was clearly more "violent" than Palin's target map; or Bush's patriotic moistening of KSM, et.al.

The 2-year anniversary of ObaMao's high seas shooting spree is this April. Get busy, Leftists.

Rage against the machine!

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 13, 2011 3:48 PM | Report abuse

And why isn’t billionaire progressive George Soros financing any unhinged Leftist rent-a-mob rallies against ObaMao's summary execution of (un-Mirandized!) civilians by Reaper drone airstrikes in Pakistan?

Afterall, Obama’s targeting tactics are clearly more "violent" than Palin's target maps; or Bush’s post-9/11 moistening of KSM, et.al.

Obama’s policy to use Reaper drones to target (un-Mirandized!) civilians has increased markedly without a peep. Get busy, Leftists.

Rev. Wright should burn a Koran every day until Obama either releases his birth certificate or ends his Reaper drone madness.

Rage against the machine, Leftists!

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 13, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I too was jarred at the beginning….What is this - they sound like they're at a football game! I thought it was inappropriate, and was beginning to chalk it up to some kind of cultural difference between the Wild West and the rest of us. I also thought - hmmm - they're just providing more fodder for those who will criticize the President for making this a political rally. However it looked to me that the President was also taken aback by the response of the audience at first.

But about 1/3 of the way through - I began to get it. These people are in need of a catharsis.

They have a visceral need to express optimism and triumph in the face of adversity. There's been a lot of negativity, name calling, you name it in the aftermath of this tragedy, and I think it was just time to cast all that off - and show the process of healing. There was a tone of defiance and a will power to get all the evil thoughts out of our system...

From the moment that Daniel Hernandez stood up, and after the usual “I’m not a hero”, I think he expressed what was really going on. With strong emotion and even a bit of anger – he was expressing that there’s just been enough animosity; that our citizens and public servants deserve better.

Hats off to that young man – and to our President and First Lady.

Posted by: natalia1 | January 13, 2011 4:06 PM | Report abuse

The focus of the memorial service in Tucson seemed to be Obama and his speech, rather than the deceased, their families and the injured. It was very different from the Oklahoma City memorial service right after the bombing, at which the focus was on prayers for the dead and injured. The people at the OKC memorial service were more interested in hearing Governor Keating and Reverend Graham speak. President Clinton gave a nice speech, I think it was less than 10 minutes, but it was clear that he was not the focus of the service. I guess you can’t really compare the events, different scope, different community.

Posted by: mbs235 | January 13, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

The organizers of the memorial service set the tone, not Mr. Obama. It started with the jarring tympani drum beats to Copeland's music. I'm sure the Native America blessing was well meant. But, it was also jarring. In fact, it was Secy's Napolitono and Holder who presented the only moving and traditional Bible readings. The President's speech was also full of spiritual references. It's unfair to blame him for screaming and applauding U of A students. Not that it matters. The Tea Baggers and "Bubbles" Malkin would have found something to criticize.

Posted by: BBear1 | January 13, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I thought the President's speech was terrific but I found the behavior of many in the crowd, cheering, whooping and giving shout-outs, boorish.

Posted by: wave41 | January 13, 2011 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Two points:

1) For all those that thought is was to loud and thought a memorial service should be more somber…. Have you ever considered asking your state legislatures to close malls and restaurants on Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day? I mean if we are all supposed to act in one somber way, shouldn’t we take those two solemn days and truly make them about remembering?
2) I believe this was not an event to just memorialize the dead. It was an event that also celebrated those who survived, those who were heroes, and give a positive reason to those who need to move on. Pointing out the positives and making people feel better is what the President did. The fact that some people want to recognize those who did extraordinary things, and those whose efforts made a difference is a good thing, not a bad thing. We need more people feeling good about each others efforts, not less.

Posted by: The_Rat | January 13, 2011 4:31 PM | Report abuse

People mourn they way they mourn; there's no right or wrong way. That being said though, it wasn't the time for Obama to grandstand and campaign.
Did they really have t-shirts?? Of what?!
The situation is being manipulated to spark interest in the media and news, which is probably what is leaving a bad taste in some people's mouths, but at least it's not being ignored.
I think it was fine and appropriate that Obama was there, but he seemed to be there more for himself than the country. I don't think he understands the difference though.

Posted by: hebe1 | January 13, 2011 4:33 PM | Report abuse

An absolutely perfect example of the culture of Obamma.

Posted by: alisonhynes | January 13, 2011 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I live in Tucson and was embarrassed by the attitude of the crowd as I watched it on TV last night. Pres. Obama's speech was great, but all the excess cheering and yelling cheapened the service. His remarks were solemn and inspiring. However,too many in attendance seemed to think they were at a basketball game or a graduation. Yes, it was OK to cheer for Daniel Hernandez, to cheer that Gabby had opened her eyes and to recognize the other heroes of that terrible day. But so much of the other cheering and screaming was over the top and lacked the respect the victims and their families deserved. I am not being "anti-Obama" or right wing when I criticize my town's behavior. The students and other attendees should have remembered the tragic reason the president was here in Tucson. Just because people stood in line for such a long time to get in, just because it was probably the only time in their lives that they'll see a president in person, doesn't mean they should bring the party atmosphere of the line into the actual service. What happened to basic manners?

Posted by: csd1921 | January 13, 2011 5:58 PM | Report abuse

After reading the article and comments I am completely confused and even hurt. I'm not sure what a memorial is supposed to be like as I have never attended one other than this one. To honest though I didn't hear the moron that boo'ed Brewer and I will say it was absolutely inappropriate. To fair I am certain there were some people there for the wrong reasons. I went there to find some peace in healing words which have now been replaced with the media's negative judgments of our community. Can we get some peace for our sadness?!!!

Posted by: oneivage | January 13, 2011 6:25 PM | Report abuse

After reading the article and comments I am completely confused and even hurt. I'm not sure what a memorial is supposed to be like as I have never attended one other than this one. To honest though I didn't hear the moron that booed Brewer and I will say it was absolutely inappropriate. To fair I am certain there were some people there for the wrong reasons. I went there to find some peace in healing words which have now been replaced with the media's negative judgments of our community. Can we get some peace for our sadness?!!!

Posted by: oneivage | January 13, 2011 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Can those of you who are berating the President for how the audience responded or for what he said, do readers a favor? Before posting your comment, just say "I think Obama Was Born in Kenya" or "Obama is a Socialist" so we can just move on to the next, one hopes, more insightful observation.

Posted by: gratianus | January 13, 2011 6:45 PM | Report abuse

It was all good. I had no problem with the cheering, and I don't think the families of the victims had a problem with the cheering either. This service was not just a memorial for those who were killed, it was also intended to honor the survivors and heroes who helped save lives. It was a message of hope and unity, something right wingers just can't stand. Many of the attendees were college students, also showing their appreciation for the president of other members of our government for their support. I don't think it's our place to judge how people grieve and respond to tragedy.

Posted by: ggwalt | January 13, 2011 6:59 PM | Report abuse

This turned out to be one of those "celebration of a life" funerals, with the president playing the role of minister of a black church very well.

Had I been present, I don't think I would have clapped, being taught from childhood that you don't clap in church, certainly not at a funeral.

The only question is how the survivors of those killed saw it. Overall I don't see how they could have been offended. Having the president give that kind of funeral oration, talking about your loved one, is as good as it gets under the circumsances. I think this was a big part of the healing process.

Posted by: ElAl | January 13, 2011 7:08 PM | Report abuse

It was just what it needed to be. A wake up call for many who have lost sense of what it means to live in America. Enough of the take my country back crowd and welcome the it's all of us working together that will bring a happier and richer life for all of us. Just finished reading the story "Stone Soup" to my 3rd graders and started to tear up because it's message is what little Christina-the same age as my students- would've appreciated and embraced.

Posted by: valerie14 | January 13, 2011 7:10 PM | Report abuse

It was just what it needed to be. A wake up call for many who have lost sense of what it means to live in America. Enough of the take my country back crowd and welcome the it's all of us working together that will bring a happier and richer life for all of us. Just finished reading the story "Stone Soup" to my 3rd graders and started to tear up because it's message is what little Christina-the same age as my students- would've appreciated and embraced.

Posted by: valerie14 | January 13, 2011 7:12 PM | Report abuse

I am very proud of the people of Tucson who broke their unrelenting desolation with an outpouring of joy and love.
To suggest that any politician could have orchestrated a "pep rally" with these people is to be utterly out of touch with who they are and what they have been through.

Posted by: cms1 | January 13, 2011 7:52 PM | Report abuse

The whole town of Tuscon is grieving. This venue made it possible for the most people to attend a memorial together. President Obama was dignified, particularly by adding his own applause to that of the crowd, showing that he was not taking any for himself, but directing it to where it belonged.

He can't control the crowd, which seemed to want to applaud and even celebrate—celebrate the lives, celebrate the spirit of being united in the face of tragedy—rather than to mourn alone.

At first I too was rankled by the applause. Then I cam to understand it as the spontaneous affects of a crowd coming to terms with what hit their city, and showing their spirit, their unwillingness to be cowed by violence. In that light I accepted it for what it was, a spontaneous expression.

Posted by: lindsaycurren | January 13, 2011 8:03 PM | Report abuse

make a joyful noise,even in times of sadness and despair.this is what we call a homecoming. please don't continue to hate and divide people did you hear any words that were spoken?not just from our president but to a person everyone said to heal and stop the hate.
the people were responding to the words, maybe you had to be there.
the life of the young girl and the others should be remembered for love and hope for us all. some of you will never get it.

Posted by: ninnafaye | January 13, 2011 8:51 PM | Report abuse

This is Tucson, home of the best Day of the Dead celebration in the U.S. This represents how they celebrate the lives of their loved ones who have died. I think it is beautiful and cathartic. http://azstarnet.com/news/opinion/editorial/article_3aaab457-ab41-58e5-98cf-6cd34cec1deb.html

Posted by: debbie13 | January 13, 2011 9:42 PM | Report abuse

If I ever criticize how people deal with tragedy, I hope one of my friends will take me aside and slap me senseless.

Posted by: BurfordHolly | January 13, 2011 10:10 PM | Report abuse

RuthElla: Very well said!

Posted by: slamming | January 13, 2011 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Dear Wingnuts:

We are sorry we are such a disappointment to you, but we did not have much time to practice.

We promise to do better next time you shoot a politician.

Posted by: BurfordHolly | January 13, 2011 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Before the President took to the podium I told my wife the crowd seemed too excited and not reflective/respectful. I said that if President Obama asked for the audience to sit and to say something like, "your enthusiasm for the healing and for the hope you are here to offer is special and important and I thank you. Yet, I'd like to ask you to remain seated and serene (or quiet or some artful word) during my speech - for my grief holds little joy, and my hope holds complete reverence."

That kind of remark, or something similar, would have been historical!

He would then continue, "A speech about innocent and honest citizens, a speech about what is important about our country, a speech about how we continue to carry the torch" etc. etc. and then carry on with what was a very good presentation.

Just a thought. I voted for him and want him to lead like no other. So far....so so.

Posted by: rjt123 | January 13, 2011 10:54 PM | Report abuse

The service was a rally for sure, never should never had been held at a college because of the brain washing that goes on in our institutions
and you can,t fix stupid.

Posted by: Jfifthwheel5 | January 14, 2011 8:23 PM | Report abuse

I would just like to ask all those saying this was a celebration of life etc and the hollering and cheering for political sides while booing others is acceptable, would someone please tell me how much time he spent or whether he even mentioned the names of those who were wounded and are still recuperating other than Giffords? I can't recall if those people were even named. I also found it extremely unfortunate that even though the death of a 9 yr old is horrific and terrible, so was the loss of the others who died and all should have been afforded the same respect and should not have been given any less emphasis on their accomplishments just because they weren't so young.
I just was uncomfortable watching the whole thing and the President of the University who introduced everyone should be ashamed of his tone because he made it into the same pep rally feel that made many uncomfortable.

Posted by: justmyvoice | January 15, 2011 9:56 AM | Report abuse

For those saying it was UofA promoting the 'theme' of Together We Thrive, I suggest reading this article.
http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/32138

Posted by: phg1 | January 15, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

The memorial service was put together by the people of Tucson and the University of Arizona. They knew their community and what they needed to begin the healing. The opening Native American blessing was totally appropriate to such an event in the Southwest. The cheers and tears were the genuine responses of the people, grieving and rising up from this terrible event. Obama's speech was graceful and healing. Tucsonians don't need a whole bunch of sidewalk superintendents from other parts of the country dissing how they bring themselves back together from the community's tragedy.

Posted by: IrishRose1 | January 15, 2011 7:41 PM | Report abuse

No mention in the lying yellow dog WP about the T SHIRTS AND STICKERS ON BACKS OF CHAIRS WITH OBAMA'S CAMPAIGN SLOGAN FOR 2012 PLASTERED ON THEM. WHERE IS THE SHAME DEMS!
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20028447-503544.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CBSNewsPolls+(CBS+News%3A+Opinion%3A+CBS+News+Polls)

Posted by: rickshawjim | January 16, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

The memorial service was put together by the people of Tucson and the University of Arizona. They knew their community and what they needed to begin the healing. The opening Native American blessing was totally appropriate to such an event in the Southwest. The cheers and tears were the genuine responses of the people, grieving and rising up from this terrible event. Obama's speech was graceful and healing. Tucsonians don't need a whole bunch of sidewalk superintendents from other parts of the country dissing how they bring themselves back together from the community's tragedy.

Posted by: IrishRose1
=========================
hand picked by Obama's staff no doubt. Where is the mention of Boos when Brewer walked in? Brewer elected by more than 70% of the people is booed at a campaign rally, oops I mean funeral, but not Obama who sued the state for trying to protect itself from an illegal invasion? It would be more likely that Obama would have been booed, not Brewer. Didn't the paid SEIU operatives get the meme to not cheer and clap at funerals?

Posted by: rickshawjim | January 16, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

The “Together We Thrive” T-shirts that starred at Wednesday’s Arizona `Memorial’ originated from Organizing for America , a sad fact unearthed by The Drumbeat of Liberty and the Preservation of Freedom editor and Canada Free Press (CFP) columnist Robert Rohlfing. University of Arizona brass did not originate the “Together We Thrive” T-shirt. They merely recycled it for Obama—and recycled it in time for what should have been a dignified Memorial for the dead. If you were a mourner who took home a “Together We Thrive” T-shirt have a look at the bottom of your shirt. “Rocking America and Rocking the Vote” is a common theme of the DNC, and it’s right there on your Memorial T-shirt memento.

Welcome to the era of Obama, where cheering and standing ovations, for the first time in history, became part of the Requiem for the Dead.

http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/32138

Posted by: rickshawjim | January 16, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse

See yellow dog journalists at WP,you can't control the message anymore. We the people can find the truth and don't rely on the old msm anymore. Long live the internet and freedom of speech.

Posted by: rickshawjim | January 16, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

The theme they created was "Together We Thrive" but they cheered Democrats and booed Republicans. Strange way to demonstrate togetherness.

Posted by: cyberpunk1
==============
You know the secret service screened that crowd, hand picked Obama supporters, who else would cheer and clap at funerals. Otherwise Obama might have been booed off the stage in AZ.

Posted by: rickshawjim | January 16, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

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