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Posted at 9:26 PM ET, 01/12/2011

Heroes, humility and healing in Tucson

By Jonathan Capehart

This day started out on a discordant note with a tin-ear video from Sarah Palin. An eight-minute defensive message that pointed fingers while demanding that fingers not be pointed at her. Her tone was wrong. Her words were ill-chosen. Her message ill-timed for a nation in need of healing. Thankfully, hers was not the last voice to be heard today.

Speaker John Boehner (D-Ohio) spoke on the floor of the House. So, too, did House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Both struck the statesman-like tone demanded of tragic times like these and of the positions they hold. And the example they set would reach a dramatic high point at the University of Arizona. Daniel Hernandez was the hero who came to the aide of his boss, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). But his humble rejection of the honorific only served to heighten the high regard with which he is held in the nation today. And then came President Obama with his powerful speech.

In paying tribute to those who lost their lives and who were wounded on that awful Saturday, Obama, with the permission of Giffords's husband, Mark Kelly, delivered the blockbuster news that Giffords opened her eyes for the first time this afternoon. Then, rising to the occasion as adult in chief, Obama reflected on the debate roiling the nation for the last four days. And in doing so he soared above it.

But what we can't do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.

....If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let's make sure it's worthy of those we have lost. Let's make sure it's not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.

.....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 the challenges of the nation, in a way that would make them proud. 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.

Obama's biggest applause came when he said, referring to slain nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green, "I want to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it. All of us - we should do everything we can do to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations."

Despite the sour start to the day, our nation came a step closer to living up to those expectations tonight.

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 12, 2011; 9:26 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

Well said. The contrast between Sarah Palin and President Obama today was utterly stunning. It seemed to me Ms. Palin was focused on Ms. Palin, and the President was focused on the community and country.

Posted by: patposton | January 12, 2011 11:27 PM | Report abuse

You are such a butt kisser, just give him a colonoscopy while you are there.

Posted by: bal503 | January 12, 2011 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Jonathan

Beautifully put.

Posted by: BarbarainPalmSprings | January 12, 2011 11:33 PM | Report abuse

I called msnbc today, and no on has ever called in to request anything about Capehart. I'd be willing to bet, based on the number of comments he receives on his columns, the same answer would be given at the WP.

Posted by: lorenzo2121 | January 13, 2011 3:30 AM | Report abuse

if the capehart guy ever, ever says anything nice about sarah palin or writes a nice article about conservatives without knives drawn, i think healing really did come. this guy always, always uses every possible opportunity to tear down palin in his, and obamas, left wing condescension. i thought well since obama is talking about union and healing (even though the hand picked crowd in arizon booed the governor) i thought i'd read capehart and see is he or maybe dana were contributing to this healing. they both spit on palin -- like they always do -- before getting to their obesience before obamas words of healing. i'd say physician heal thyself but these guys dont' want it. they cant see past their politics.

Posted by: harbinger317 | January 13, 2011 4:05 AM | Report abuse

if the capehart guy ever, ever says anything nice about sarah palin or writes a nice article about conservatives without knives drawn, i think healing really did come. this guy always, always uses every possible opportunity to tear down palin in his, and obamas, left wing condescension. i thought well since obama is talking about union and healing (even though the crowd in arizon booed the republican governor) i thought i'd read capehart and see is he or maybe dana were contributing to this healing. they both spit on palin -- like they always do -- before getting to their obesience before obamas words of healing. i'd say physician heal thyself but these guys dont' want it. they cant see past their politics.

Posted by: harbinger317 | January 13, 2011 4:06 AM | Report abuse

if the capehart guy ever, ever says anything nice about sarah palin or writes a nice article about conservatives without knives drawn, i think healing really did come. this guy always, always uses every possible opportunity to tear down palin in his, and obamas, left wing condescension. i thought well since obama is talking about union and healing (even though the crowd in arizon booed the republican governor) i thought i'd read capehart and see is he or maybe dana were contributing to this healing. they both spit on palin -- like they always do -- before getting to their obesience before obamas words of healing. i'd say physician heal thyself but these guys dont' want it. they cant see past their politics. healing, to them, and i fear to obama, means conservatives shut up and tow the liberal line

Posted by: harbinger317 | January 13, 2011 4:08 AM | Report abuse


It is time to quit trying to gain political points from this tragedy. Capehart should be shamed by the President's speech for his earlier writing on the subject.

Posted by: edbyronadams | January 13, 2011 4:56 AM | Report abuse

Capeheart is a disgusting partisan ghoul.

Anyone shocked for a second that this partisan hack would attack Palin and praise Obama? Good lord, these losers are not only dishonest but they are totally predictable again.

Spare us your ghoulish partisan dreck, scum.

Posted by: bobmoses | January 13, 2011 6:20 AM | Report abuse

I thought the President succeeded in delivering the speech that was appropriate to the moment and Palin missed an opportunity to show that she has more than one speed. This is just how I saw it.

At some point along the way, when you hold no official post, when you charge large amounts of money to be heard and when you tend to opine in front of only your supporters rather than seriously debate your opponents... you are not a politician, you are yourself simply another Pundit.

Posted by: Rickster623 | January 13, 2011 7:10 AM | Report abuse

I'm still waiting for Capeheart to apologize for linking Sarah Palin to the murders in Tucson without any factual basis whatsoever.

As the truth is coming out, I think it's near time that some in the media apologize for being bad journalists and jumping to conclusions.

Let's face it: No matter what Palin said, the media were going to find some way to trash her. Capeheart has proven in this case that he's more interested in trashing Palin than arriving at the truth -- and that simply makes him unfit to be a journalist.

Posted by: diehardlib | January 13, 2011 7:22 AM | Report abuse

It is obvious that the President was directing his comments to the likes of Mr. Capeheart. Gov. Palin was responding to a terrible association: that her actions in the political campaign directly led to the death of six people and the wounding of others,including a US representative. It is too much to ask Capeheart to apologize for his part in the mudslinging. He knows that his hate for Gov. Palin led him and others to adopt Rom Emmaneul's strategy of never lettinga crisis go to waste. The shame is not on Gov. Palin who has the right to defend herself, it is on Capeheart.

Posted by: jmwlaw | January 13, 2011 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Um, I believe the speaker of the house is a Republican, from Ohio. Yes, a REPUBLICAN!

Posted by: cfrance | January 13, 2011 9:17 AM | Report abuse

The past week has been awful in many ways. We have seen a deranged individual inflict grievous wounds on a member of Congress and kill or wound many others, including a federal judge, a nine-year-old girl, and a husband whose last act was to shield his wife's body with his own. We have then seen both ends of our country's political spectrum spend more effort on blaming each other than on lamenting this national tragedy, and I've been one of those piling on in this free-for-all.

The conduct of our national leaders, on both sides of the political aisle, has been one of the bright spots in this otherwise dark time. President Obama has given a speech that asks Americans to honor the dead and wounded by setting aside partisan hostility to work together for the good of our country. Speaker Boehner has done a commendable job of trying to bring Congress together in a respectful and nonpartisan
way to remember the dead, support the wounded, and encourage their families.

Let's follow their good example, stop offering harsh criticism of each other, and try to figure out what things we can agree on to move our country forward despite the many challenges it faces.

Posted by: 02Pete | January 13, 2011 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I agree with what you said although Palin (i'm not a fan) probably wouldnt have had to put out a video if she hadnt been blamed for four days by the Washington Post and others for being an accessory to the muurder of 6 innocent people. It would be nice to think you and I wouldnt be defensive about that!?!

There were more articles in the Post yesterday about Sarah Palin then about Jared Loughner.

I think that when her video was released yesterday morning a siren went off in the Post newsroom with papers flying everywhere and columnists scurrying to their computers.

I am starting to believe the Post doesnt think it can survive financially without Sarah Palin.

Posted by: Bcjbs1 | January 13, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

It is easy to see that several posters did not listen to or hear what our President said last evening.
Sad.....

Posted by: csavferg1 | January 13, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

The difference between the speeches by Palin and Pres. Obama is worlds apart. Hers was about me, me, me and his was about healing and acknowledging those who were lost and how we can be a better nation.

Right or wrong Palin was blamed for some of the rhetoric she created and continues to create "blood libel". Is she really that clueless and/or hateful?

If you want to be on the political stage you will be accused of many things and you should be able to handle the accusations – if not...

Posted by: rlj611 | January 13, 2011 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Yes, it must be nice for some members of the Media (not the President who did great) to accuse innocent people of being accessories to murder (the Tea Party did it!)for four days and now say..Gosh, cant we all just get along and rise above the uncivil discourse??

Posted by: Bcjbs1 | January 13, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse


Some sign of apology for the previous witch hunt would be appreciated.

Posted by: edbyronadams | January 13, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

No doubt, the difference between Palin's "effort" and Obama's brilliant eulogy was quite remarkable! Today feels like a better day than yesterday.
Nice work, Capehart.

Posted by: binkynh | January 13, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Capehart, you are a partisan hack who is exactly the kind of person who President Obama was admonishing during last night's memorial service. You sit in judgement in your cubicle at the Post, running your mouth, never being man enough to back up any of your assertions. You are a coward. You are the worst kind of human being. You talk trash, yet you NEVER are out there reporting, and you NEVER respond to your critics in a civilized manner. I have had issues with Ezra Klein (and I still might), but he ALWAYS brings intelligent analysis, facts, and numbers to his argument, rather than just blathering on about Palin and the Tea Party. Get a life.

Posted by: steelers_rule123 | January 13, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Mr. Capehart. If ever the difference between President Barack Obama and Sarah Palin were obvious, it was in their handling of this tragedy. It is the difference between class and crass.

Posted by: Victoria27 | January 13, 2011 11:49 AM | 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 1:18 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 1:24 PM | Report abuse

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