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Posted at 10:59 PM ET, 01/12/2011

Obama in Tucson: brilliant and courageous

By Marc Thiessen

President Obama's address at the memorial in Tucson was really two speeches in one. The first speech was brilliant. The second was courageous.

In the first, Obama delivered a traditional memorial address, and did so with elegance and eloquence. He shined a light on the victims and the heroes and told their stories, which had been lost amid the shameful debate that erupted following the attack. In so doing, he gave voice to their courage and sacrifice -- and reclaimed the narrative of the day for them. "These men and women remind us that heroism is found not only on the fields of battle," Obama said. "They remind us that heroism does not require special training or physical strength. Heroism is here, all around us, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, just waiting to be summoned -- as it was on Saturday morning."

The president could have ended there. But instead he pivoted to a second speech on our political discourse -- and delivered a clear rebuke to those on the left who were so quick to politicize this tragedy and assign blame to their political opponents:

Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, "when I looked for light, then came darkness." Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath. For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man's mind.... 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.

This was unexpected. It was courageous. It was genuine. And the president deserves credit for saying it.

It was also effective, because it opened hearts to the president's next message: a moving appeal for all of us to live up to the expectation of young Christina Taylor Green, age nine, who was taken in that hail of bullets Saturday:

Imagine: Here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation's future. She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.

I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us -- we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations.

Christina was given to us on September 11th, 2001, one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called "Faces of Hope." On either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child's life. "I hope you help those in need," read one. "I hope you know all of the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart. I hope you jump in rain puddles."

If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today. And here on Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.

All in all, and outstanding speech.

By Marc Thiessen  | January 12, 2011; 10:59 PM ET
Categories:  Thiessen  | Tags:  Marc Thiessen  
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Comments

I generally agree, but point out that President Obama's "clear rebuke" was not just to "the left" with regard to vitriolic political discourse. As I heard it, his message was for all sides here--radical right included. I thought it was a pretty classy way to rebut Palin, et al.

Posted by: patposton | January 12, 2011 11:21 PM | Report abuse

I continue to be amazed at how the right-wing punditocracy is so disconnected from reality. Can Mr. Thiessen actually believe that Mr. Obama was chiding only the left for the tone of debate in this coutry? Unvelievable.

Posted by: BBear1 | January 12, 2011 11:45 PM | Report abuse

STUNNING. Theissen sees only the left as responsible for this 'politicizing this tragedy' I recall seeing plenty of Fox News members talking about the killer as 'left wing'.

Sadly, Theissen only hears what he wants to hear.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | January 12, 2011 11:50 PM | Report abuse

Palin, Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, McConnell, Bachman, are all partly responsible for this tragedy. What did they expect would eventually happen when they insight violence???? They should all be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by: jonbasil | January 12, 2011 11:52 PM | Report abuse

The president deftly did two things at once: ask people to move away from assigning blame (which I've been too quick to do), and ask all of us, with the tragically lost as inspiration, to be better, kinder, more thoughtful people. He didn't play down to the level of his opposition.

Posted by: minorthread | January 13, 2011 12:11 AM | Report abuse

How sad that Marc Thiessen, who wrote speeches for a president with whose policies I vociferously disagreed but whom I honor for never, to my knowledge, uttering a bigoted word--indeed, he warned against blaming Muslims generally in the wake of September 11--would so blatantly lie and soil the truth at a time like this. Mr. Thiessen, you COULD be ashamed, if you had the capacity for shame.

Posted by: TruthtoPower4 | January 13, 2011 12:12 AM | Report abuse

The "rebuke" was immediately preceded by a passage -- conspicuously omitted by Mr. Thiessen -- in which Obama validated the importance of the conversation about civility:

"Already we've seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health systems. Much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government."

He also said:

"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, 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."

Doesn't sound like a rebuke to leftists to me.

Posted by: Meridian1 | January 13, 2011 12:14 AM | Report abuse

People, let me say that I have been one to point fingers at Palin at others. But having heard the speach (or reading portions of it here), how can you immediately begin the finger pointing again. Who cares what Thiessen seems to be saying.

For me, I am reflecting on the image of a little child jumping in rain puddles. My God, how beautiful is that?

Posted by: comeonpeople | January 13, 2011 12:24 AM | Report abuse

People, let me say that I have been one to point fingers at Palin at others. But having heard the speach (or reading portions of it here), how can you immediately begin the finger pointing again. Who cares what Thiessen seems to be saying.

For me, I am reflecting on the image of a little child jumping in rain puddles. My God, how beautiful is that?

Posted by: comeonpeople | January 13, 2011 12:24 AM | Report abuse

It shouldn't be too stunning. The left got thoroughly spanked tonight!

Posted by: jefferson4 | January 13, 2011 12:44 AM | Report abuse

A portion of the unpleasantness of this event began with the unfair attack on conservatives, accusing them of murder. So unnecessary!

The president rightly called them down this evening. The Left stands shamed.

Posted by: BillCarson2 | January 13, 2011 1:09 AM | Report abuse

Excellent speech by the President that hit all the right notes. Appealed to the better angels of our nature and was extremely moving. BTW, we all know the speech will have no lasting impact and things will be back to business as usual within a couple of weeks.

Posted by: bpai_99 | January 13, 2011 1:38 AM | Report abuse

An hour or so ago I checked the Post for its' pundits instant reaction and saw a typically nasty piece from Thiessen's ideological soulmate Michael Gerson trashing Obama's speech ... It seems to have been taken down?

Why?

Posted by: garshinr | January 13, 2011 2:01 AM | Report abuse

THIS WAS A UNITY RALLY

It was consciously described and marketed to the attendees as a "UNITY RALLY".

And the T-Shirts "Together We Thrive: Arizona and America" were put together by the University of Arizona. Not Obama. Nor Plouffe.

It wasn't supposed to be a wake, or a memorial service.

This explains why the audience were cheering and not sitting "quiet like in church".

Expectations. People are trying to spin this as some form of "pep" rally, or political event, and not sober enough.

Unity.
Rally.

not

Memorial.
Service.

Big difference at how you would react and behave if you thought you were going to one versus the other.

Same with the shirts. It was done by the University, for the community.

[From the U of A website]

"Thousands of people are expected on the University of Arizona campus today to hear President Barack Obama speak during an event honoring Saturday's shooting victims.

"Together We Thrive: Tucson and America" will begin at 6 p.m.

... [snip] ...

"We wanted to represent that every person has their own individual concerns and is grieving in their own way, but we're all comng together and joining in unity and this is the physical representation of that," said ASUA President Emily Fritze, a senior majoring in political science.

Of Obama's visit, Fritze said: "This is an opportunity for us, borne from very very unfortunate circumstances."

"Students are excited and comforted to have the president come and deliver a message to the campus community," she said."

Posted by: trhunnicutt | January 13, 2011 2:03 AM | Report abuse

Thiessen said:

"But instead he pivoted to a second speech on our political discourse -- and delivered a clear rebuke to those on the left who were so quick to politicize this tragedy and assign blame to their political opponents..."

___________________________________________

This doesn't strike me as a rebuke to the left or the right but rather as criticism of those who found yet another basis for divisiveness in this tragedy.

He either has tunnel vision or is disingenuous. But, whatever the cause, I think he's wrong.

Posted by: rand888888 | January 13, 2011 2:21 AM | Report abuse

Dr. K's column, and that of George Will were vindicated by none other than the President of the United States, last night.

One thing is very clear-- It is time to stop attacking and scapegoating the innocent for something they had nothing to do with.

Most that write for the Wapo should have read Dr. Krauthammer and George F. Will before writing their columns where they were using the tried and true methods of dictators and the unintelligent mob inciters, to scapegoat Sarah Palin and others without a scintilla of evidence to back their discourse.
President Obama said:

"... 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 happen to think differently than we do

-- it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we're talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. (Applause.)

Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, "When I looked for light, then came darkness."

Bad things happen, and we have to guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.
For the truth is none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped these shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man's mind. Yes, we have to examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of such violence in the future. (Applause.)

But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. (Applause.) That we cannot do. (Applause.) That we cannot do. 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's 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 that our hopes and dreams are bound together."

And I say that the use of the term,
"Blood libel" may have been an overkill, but vicious libels they have written and libel and scapegoating go together like rats and rat poison.

Posted by: LETFREEDOMRING2 | January 13, 2011 4:46 AM | Report abuse


"123 Get Samples" is the largest directory of free samples You can try brand name products for free and enjoy. You should definitely check them.

Posted by: jovaugh | January 13, 2011 5:04 AM | Report abuse

Well, you sure seem to have changed your mind from your initial reaction on CNN...

Posted by: Chaspari1 | January 13, 2011 6:07 AM | Report abuse

A portion of the unpleasantness of this event began with the unfair attack on conservatives, accusing them of murder. So unnecessary!

The president rightly called them down this evening. The Left stands shamed.

Posted by: BillCarson2
-----
You know what? The left stood more pissed of than anything else. Shame had nothing to do with it. After month after month of hearing the crap the teabaggers were spewing, did you not think that the "left" would call out the violent rhetoric after such a grotesque incident?

Seriously.. do you think that the initial - admittedly ill-advised - call out against the type of hate speech Palin and her ild spew (and we heard more of her self-centered justifications of it yesterday) was off-base. Or do you think that we and our nation are better served by this kind of angry rhetoric?

It's not about Obama and Palin; it's about how we as a nation want to function... as illiterate know-nothing mud-throwers or as a united people trying to work through some tough times.

Posted by: Chaspari1 | January 13, 2011 6:15 AM | Report abuse

The mind of Marc Thiessen is as much a prisoner of dark places like Gitmo as are the alleged terrorists he is so eager to waterboard.

Thiessen listened to the President's moving speech and drew this narrow conclusion: Obama "delivered a clear rebuke to those on the left who were so quick to politicize this tragedy and assign blame to their political opponents."

Yet, when your read the presidents actual words -- his call for "a more civil and honest public discourse" reflecting the fact that "we are all Americans" who should be able to "question each other's ideas without questioning each other's love of country" and that our task is to "constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations" -- you understand immediately that the President was speaking not merely to his own liberal base but to all Americans, maybe, even especially, right wing conservative ones.

Marc Thiessen, his mind trapped behind the steel bars and high stone walls of right wing ideology, is only able to see the President's words within the context of the charged controversy of the last two or three days rather than to the larger problems of polarization of the last two or three years, or two or three decades, as the loyalty and patriotism of some Americans, and even the legitimacy of their citizenship, has come into question.

I say once again: I am always poorer for having read Marc Thiessen, and the editors of the Post must really reconsider their decision to keep him as a regular commentator. It's not that he is conservative. There are plenty of honest conservatives out there. It's that Thiessen lacks integrity and is simply a party hack. If we wanted to taste a sample of mindless, robotic right wing propaganda we have many other places to go. The Washington Post should be reserved for other voices.

Posted by: TedFrier | January 13, 2011 6:53 AM | Report abuse

Although I seldom agree with Mr. Theissen, most of the time (not always) his figures are correct. I don't consider him to be a hack, but certainly a conservative partisan. The WaPost conservative partisan hack is Jennifer Rubin, whose seldom gets facts or figures correct. Ms. Rubin is so tilted that little of what she writes can be believed.

Posted by: citizen4truth1 | January 13, 2011 8:19 AM | Report abuse

The outrageous, unparalled hypocrisy of your piece boggles the mind. I've tried to think of other examples as egregious.....and cannot. Without a single doubt, there has NEVER been a more odious example of the use of tragedy to promulgate unpopular policy than your party and YOUR President demonstrated regarding the terrorist attacks of 2001 on this nation. Of course, what you are doing is what your party is REALLY good at doing, mirroring. Yes, you look in the mirror and call others what you see. That you continue to be employed by this newspaper is a black mark on it.

Posted by: jgug1 | January 13, 2011 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Wow! Thiessen,
It didn't take long for people to see through your partisanship, did it?
And with one little phrase you took the good you might have done for your self and the Post and trashed both.
Nice.
(Who edits the editor?)

Posted by: GeneTouchet | January 13, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Theissen and others who commented on the President's words being a rebuke on the "left" missed the essence of his speech, totally. Theissen disappoints.

Posted by: jminette | January 13, 2011 9:07 AM | Report abuse

This was a very generous (in the sense that it surely is difficult for a right-wing pundit to give 100% praise to President Obama), and very honest and sincere.

As a simple statement of fact, it DOES happen to be those on the left who are pointing out that perhaps the violent and angry tone may have contributed to this tragedy. I happen to be "on the left", and wouldn't deny this.

The other fact (which Thiessen does NOT mention) is that - lately - most of the angry rhetoric HAS come from the right...

So - don't criticize him for mentioning that the left is the source of most of the criticism - it's true...

And that fact that most of the ugly rhetoric (in the last couple of years, at least) has come from the right - also true...

Posted by: Guy-Hardrock | January 13, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

"The president could have ended there. But instead he pivoted to a second speech on our political discourse -- and delivered a clear rebuke to those on the left who were so quick to politicize this tragedy and assign blame to their political opponents"

Theissen, the irony of your statement is as obvious as it is transparent.

You might have listened to the President, but you did not hear him.

Posted by: Cooper5 | January 13, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Leave it to Thiessen to take away a partisan message from that speech ("rebuke to the left").

And there is nothing uncivil about pointing out the fact that Sarah Palin created and disseminated a map that showed Rep. Giffords in rifle crosshairs. It is a fact, and people can draw their own conclusions about what it meant or revealed about Ms. Palin.

Posted by: crw3 | January 13, 2011 9:50 AM | Report abuse

There have been comments from the left making accusations concerning statements from right-wing, it is true. But most of the hate speech, especially containing metaphors using firearms against specific candidates of the opposition, has come from the extremist right, from whose ranks Thiessen proudly hails.

But don't let facts get in the way of your praise of the President's speech, Mr. Thiessen. It was indeed a memorable oratory, even if major parts of its content seems to have eluded you.

Posted by: Dallas138 | January 13, 2011 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I have been analyzing political rhetoric for three decades. This speech wasn't a "rebuke to the Left", and simply stating that it was doesn't make it so. It was a call for civility, which is the opposite of the discourse that the Far Right, (Limbaugh, Bachmann, Palin, Hannity, et al.) have been providing for these last few years. I believe that the President was trying to make that point, not the one that you suggest. He did do it very well.

Posted by: SaraTaylor4 | January 13, 2011 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Terrific: Politico reports that Obama’s remarks about federal judge John Roll undermine federal charges against Loughner for his murder.
http://www.politico.com/blogs/joshgerstein/0111/Obama_speech_undercuts_federal_charge_for_judges_murder.html

*Obamateur*

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

I agree. Obama had a "brilliant" performance.

...I missed who got "best actress"?

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 13, 2011 10:12 AM | 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 10:14 AM | Report abuse

A few days before this concert they had a 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 MSM riding his ass.

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 fools just made a whole batch of new conservatives over that embarrassment of epic proportion.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 13, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

A clear rebuke to the left?

What planet is this guy on?

Apparently, this was such a "clear rebuke to the left" that liberal blogs and pundits are applauding the speech, and not a single one of them - a rather touchy bunch, you might remember their ongoing back and forth over Rahm Emmanuel and "the professional left" - have written a single word about Obama rebuking them.

You're imagining things, Mr. Theissen, to make yourself feel better about just how much of a home run Barack Obama yesterday, while the teeny, tiny "leaders" of the Republican Party, like Palin and Boehner, managed to make themselves look even smaller.

Posted by: joepboyle | January 13, 2011 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Methinks the "Kaddaffi Delenda Est" protests too much.

Posted by: joepboyle | January 13, 2011 10:23 AM | Report abuse

The fascist right's sudden warmth toward Obama for extending the richest Americans' thoroughly undeserved tax cuts and letting them off the hook for inciting violence only points up the lack of any basis for the irrational hatred they've shown him up to now. Republicanism has no principles, just bigotry and fearful greed.

Posted by: dnahatch1 | January 13, 2011 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Hey Theissen - how about an article blaming the left for Arizona Republicans are resigning for fear of their lives. Or do you and the right wing pinheads need another day or to to spin this so it's President Obama's fault?

Posted by: ScottChallenger | January 13, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Mark....President Obama didn't blame your side. He also didn't blame Democrats, or liberals. For you to suggest he 'rebuked the left' shows that you are still a partisain idiot trying to score points for your team. Did you even comprehend what the President said? Your column shows you did not....Gee, what a surprise.

Please tell your side to stop vilifying their political opponents. You and yours are doing Osama bin Laden's work for him.

Posted by: kindness1 | January 13, 2011 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Who are you? And what have you done to the usual Marc Thiessen?

Posted by: CardFan | January 13, 2011 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Surprising column from a right wing pundit. He did show some of his colors using a rebuke of the left when the word used was "we". I was expecting a Beck type photo op column from Thiessen and saw the opposite. Leadership has won over bleedership.

Posted by: jameschirico | January 13, 2011 10:57 AM | Report abuse

It shouldn't be too stunning. The left got thoroughly spanked tonight!

Posted by: jefferson4
__________________
I think you're missing Thiessen and Obama's point, which is that we need to stop keeping score, and attempting to sieze every opportunity, no matter how thin the premise, to score attack points.

Obama wasn't spanking the left, he did mention the level of discourse needing correction as well, he was talking about politicization and opportunism. that's a bipartisan spanking.

Posted by: JoeT1 | January 13, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Brilliant speech; he lived up to the moment in a way I don't believe has been seen from him since his '08 campaign.

And just so this is clear to even those who damn Thiessen with faint praise, I too am no Obama fan but can recognize and applaud his accomplishment yesterday.

Sadly ironic too, that when a "right winger" like Thiessen praises Obama he is nevertheless attacked even when doing so. I guess the message Obama conveyed so magnificently has already been forgotten by those who claim to be "tolerant" and "progressive" in the first place.

Oh, and don't delude yourselves; he most definitely directed his (fairly) gentle criticism at the fringe lefties in general who fired the opening salvos against Palin, Fox, etc. in this context/instance. Is there any question that Krugman, Olbermann, et al weren't the first to jump in and lay blame at their feet for this tragedy? If you can't accept that as fact, than can you say you're willing to have an honest discussion about anything?

That said, I do believe he intended that criticism be read to apply also to those on the other side who similarly, in different situations, have been just as guilty of such transgressions.

Now, if only the President backs his words with leadership by example going forward. . . and doesn't lose sight of the challenge he's issued to raise the standards of public discourse. (Step 1, do not call House Republicans "kidnappers," etc. . .)

Posted by: screwtaped | January 13, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Ok, people CALM DOWN!!! I am no fan of Mark Thiessen, but his article did not claim that Obama was talking ONLY to the left. He simply mentioned that Obama was talking to the left (as well as the right and everything in between), and considering that the right had no expectation that he would do so, they were pleasantly surprised. Many people on the right have insisted that Obama is a polarizing figure. They have never been willing to admit that it isn't Obama that is polarizing, but rather their own deep seeded fear and distrust of the man, both as a liberal (although not a very good liberal in my estimation), as a young man (compared to most presidents), and as a black man (come on, let's call a spade a spade), and of course the left's response to the rights overloaded rhetoric in expressing this fear, that has caused the polarization. I think Thiessen's article is the first sign that maybe some on the right are willing to see past their prejudices and accept that Obama is in fact, centrist, and deeply committed to uniting the nation, while still trying to maintain some sort of fidelity to his campaign promises. If the Mark Thiessens of the world are willing to take just one step back, give the President the benefit of the doubt, and start to accept that the man really does have the best interest of the United States at heart, then I think ENORMOUS progress has been made. I don't expect the right to all of a sudden start liking or respecting Obama. But maybe, just maybe, there's a little wiggle room for civility and perhaps even, compromise.

Posted by: October10S | January 13, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse

If you are without any hint of engaging in political discourse or incivility on any level, you may point to others as being the needed recipient of the President's exhortation to engage with others on a higher, better level. None can claim that exemption. THose in public life, in the media, who have engaged in the toxic public discourse are captured on tape, print, and on the record. The rest of us know who we are.

This President engaged his "intellect, energy, and heart" to tell the people of Tucson and America, what we needed to hear. From the Native American blessing to the closing exhortation that we live up to the expectations of our children, the applause, the cheering, it was what the suffering people of Tucson, Arizona, and this country needed. There is much cause for cheering: that ordinary, gray haired Seniors took down the shooter, disarmed him, and prevented mass murder; young people armed and disarmed using sane judgement and quick thinking to defuse the situation and save lives; professional healthcare givers using the skill and resources to heal with such outstanding results; and, of course, that we have the opportunity to be led by a child, literally, forward to new and greater heights, to be all we can be, if she cannot fulfill her promise on earth.

"Phoenix", rising from the ashes. And a President with "intellect, energy, and heart" to document it for us.

Posted by: nana4 | January 13, 2011 11:13 AM | Report abuse

It is truly apparent that many posters here either did not watch or did not understand what the president said and requested.

IMO, he chided both sides.

I agree ...

... and I didn't and will never vote for BO.

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

I am sorry to "go there", but, I must ask if there is some physical disability that prevented Senators McCain and Kyl and their wives from standing for the ovations and acknowledgements of others that everyone else stood for....is there some reason their wives felt the need to check with each other and their husbands before engaging in their own applause? They did seem to sit stocically in their seats, almost as if they were at a State of The Union address and had the option to oppose.

I had to assume, in my attempt at a renewal of civility and generosity, that there must be some physical disability that prevented them from full engagement at a Memorial service for citizens killed, wounded, and a larger citizenry of soulfully wounded people who had cried for 5 days. What else could it possibly be?

Posted by: nana4 | January 13, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Obama can become a leader in this tragedy by simply continuing to represent all the people not just the "progressive/liberal" faction of the democratic party. Most of this fire storm was initiated by a shameless partisan attack by Krugman. It was immediately joined by the predictably partisan elements of the "progressive/liberals". Obama said the right things last night but it must be followed up with more of the same - not more partisan rhetoric. First thing this morning the democrats are criticizing Boehner for not going to AZ. So much for Obama's plea for toned down rhetoric. I sincerely hope that Obama is serious and chastises his own party - that would be a sign of leadership.

Posted by: fcrucian | January 13, 2011 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Matthew 7:3, Thiessen.

Posted by: Frank43 | January 13, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

It was a good speech by the President and I am certainly no fan of his. Just the type of language that was needed now from the country's leader.

For all those who question Thissesn's assertion of rebuking those on the left. I will not defend the right but only remind people that it was the left who from the beginning (and continue to do so) specifically blame Palin and talk radio for the suspect's motivation when no one is sure why he went to the Safeway and pulled the trigger. If you do know why he did it maybe you can get a job with the FBI.

Posted by: bbface21 | January 13, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

OK, I have been guilty of looking for villains in this tragedy. It's like standing in an inflatable raft that's sinking and arguing over who punctured it.

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

One of the commenters mentioned that Senator McCain was there and did not stand for any of the applause. I was puzzled because I never saw him; no reporter asked him for a comment. I assumed he did not attend and raised the question elsewhere. The two Senators low profiles are curious.

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

One of the commenters mentioned that Senator McCain was there and did not stand for any of the applause. I was puzzled because I never saw him; no reporter asked him for a comment. I assumed he did not attend and raised the question elsewhere. The two Senators low profiles are curious.

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

Very good analysis, thank you; it deepened my appreciation of a speech that so quietly and deliberately restored sanity after all the furious words that have swirled in the last week.

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

From the teaser on the Post home page, I was looking forward to this piece, since I rarely agree with Thiessen on anything.

And what did I find? The usual partisan hackwork.

Nice job, tool.

Posted by: Observer691 | January 13, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

If you're still thinking/writing about this issue in right vs. left terms, you missed the entire point of his speech.

Posted by: donaltc | January 13, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Mr. Thiessen; for the time being, I apologize for all the insensitive things I've written about you in the past, like you're a lying scumbag, mercenary shill for an indefensible, immoral administration.

I hope you'll continue to reflect on the good Mr. Obama's words. I hope he does, too.

For me, the best phrase of the evening was this: "...expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy..."

Do you conservatives recognize the source for the words "moral imagination"? Do some of you really want to keep calling Obama a Marxist or the Antichrist?

Posted by: abqcleve | January 13, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

thiessen again proves what disgusting insect he is.

Posted by: calif-joe | January 13, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

What strikes me as I read so many of these responses is that Obama's words of last night have had so little impact.

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

Many persons commenting above have criticized Thiessen for writing that Obama's "rebuke" was only for those on the left. Thiessen's writing is clear enough--go reread it--and I think that that criticism of Thiessen is legitimate. But that Thiessen is otherwise quite complimentary of Obama is, well, quite a shock, and a pleasant one at that. [For the record, I don't think ANYONE should be exclusively complimentary of Obama, but Thiessen seems to have been stuck in a perversely _ad hominem_ rut in his anti-Obama rants]. So I'll focus on what Thiessen said that was worthy rather than anything else.

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | January 13, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

What strikes me as I read so many of these responses is that Obama's words of last night have had so little impact.

Posted by: seahawkdad

=========================================

For many people the hate is too deep. I remember reading an article from a psychologist who suggested that people wallow in their hatreds because in their minds it's fun, like a game.

The best thing to do is to ignore them and work to find common ground and civility with as many people as possible

Posted by: bbface21 | January 13, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

lol Marc perhaps you missed the millions of screaming Right Wingers in your very own message forums. Perhaps you missed Sarah Palin's vile hate-filled rant yesterday.

You're correc that Obama's speech was brilliant. But clearly you missed the entire point as you immediately ran to the keyboard to bash the Left.

In conclusion, I agree it's time to heal. But that doesn't change the fact that you're an exremist drooling dimwit.

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

Brilliant and Creative? Please.

He said what he had to say, yet still managed to vote "present" on the issue of the impact of media "vitriol".

Posted by: r_loveland | January 13, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

The first step to living up to the President's and Christina's expectations is by disgarding the silly liberal/conservative paradigm that drives almost all political discourse now. Not only isn't it a true reflection of our polity it is a mental crutch and a trap. It's used as a crutch by people in place of thinking and replaces thought with stereotypes. It is a trap created by self serving people to limit our thoughts and replace them with an emotional addiction to perpetual anger and hostility.

What was once a simple intellectual contrivance to compartmentalize complex issues into easier to understand ideas has now become a prison ensnaring all our political discourse.

Posted by: kchses1 | January 13, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse

attacking Thiessen for complementing Obama for criticizing opportunism by suggesting that Thiessen is opportunistically taking Obama's speech as an attack on the left is a bit much, and I'm no Thiessen fan.

He was genuinely complementing Obama for being statesmanlike and non-opportunistic, because he was. plain and simple.

Posted by: JoeT1 | January 13, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Thiessen knew exactly what he was doing in this piece.

He uses his praise of Obama's incredible speech as a way to cover his underlying opinion that the left should be criticized for opening the IMPORTANT (not 'shameful') debate about whether fierce political rhetoric breeds tragedies like the one in Arizona.

Obama's main point in the '2nd' part of his speech is that violent political hate speech, the vast majority of which comes from the right, must end if we are to live up to our children's expectations of our country.

Thiessen, you have failed to do that with your left bashing column. You should be ashamed.

Posted by: jgarrisn | January 13, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

do you all have no memories?
Obama is a great reader/speech giver.
that's how he got elected.

He fine in the role of talking "leader", but as if he's actually not "leading" us using bush's gameplan he's horrible.
If he is purposefully using bush's gameplan, he's a liar .

either way he's about corporations first.

Posted by: newagent99 | January 13, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

He was doing great until he played the Christianity card.

Posted by: OneWhoSpeaksTruth | January 13, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse

What a pathetic, pandwering bunch of bilge. To call that speech courageous, does a disservice who really showed bravery, etc. This guy is a divisive, charlatan, with the empathy and sensitivity of a piece of pond scum. Hey Thiessen, try and do a real job of reporting instead of copying that claptrap from the former T.A.S.S. propagandists Obama has at the white house. It was also a poor campaign rant as well.

Posted by: nomobarry | January 13, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Is it really so terrible to see Americans divided amongst themselves?

The last time a really large majority of Americans came together and agreed on something, they were agreeing that it would be a really good idea to invade Iraq. What other policy idea of the 21st centruy drew the support of 79% of Americans, as invading Iraq did?

What ideas still win broad support among Americans? The idea that Americans are superior, that their country is Chosen, that its destiny is to have a gargantuan military dominance and to give orders to the remaining 96% of humanity. And ...er .. that's about it.

Americans unite only rarely, but when they do, it's generally in the cause of unjustified international aggression.

I for one would rather see Americans directing toxic lies at each other than at other sovereign nations.

Posted by: bourassa1 | January 13, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Its obvious that the majority of those posting on here are border-line delusional-- Barack states "Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath. For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man's mind.... ""

Sorry folks, but Thiessen is absolutely correct in stating that Obama rebuked those on the left. There is absolutely not a single pundit on the right that attempted to place blame immediately after the attack, or offered simple explanations. There were plenty on the left that cited Sarah Palin's use of bulls-eyes on a map, rhetoric of Tea Party memebers, and general vitriol as "simple explanations" for the act of a schizophrenic who unfortunately was not treated, and was not capable of rational thought.

Posted by: asnis715 | January 13, 2011 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Courageous would have been saying something about gun control. Obama's speech may have been a finely scripted and many other things, but courage involves taking unpopular risks that may sit well at first with the public although they are ultimately for the greater good.

Posted by: kristopher1 | January 13, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

obama didn't not give or deliver a speech... he read one.

Posted by: docwhocuts | January 13, 2011 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a big fan of Obama but his speech last night was excellent. The last portion where he mentioned the little girl and how we need to live up to the expectations of our children was very moving and touching. Well done Mr. President.

Posted by: adhughes | January 13, 2011 2:55 PM | Report abuse

As always, the right robotically repeats their talking point of the 24 hour news cycle: Obama tells the left not to blame Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh. Doesn't matter if it's accurate, they just have to say it.

Posted by: DemoDevil | January 13, 2011 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Um, docwhocuts...did Lincoln give a speech at Gettysburg or did he read one? By your logic, he read one. Both Obama and Lincoln wrote their own words, which is more than can be said of President Bush.

And before any of you start attacking me for daring to compare Obama's words last night to Lincoln's immortal words in 1863, I was only using the comparison to make a point -- that docwhocuts comment is just plain silly. Speeches are almost universally written before hand and read to the audience. Even Reagan used teleprompters for his speeches.

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

As someone who has consistently challenged Thiessen's posts and a proud liberal-progressive who is distressed by the treatment of the President and what appears to be an anger from the right I want to pubicly say thank you for acknowledging the President's speech last night and capturing its importance. For those who have posted and complained that Thiessen is "only rebuking the left" you have missed the point of the President's remarks. Thiessen has metaphorically extended a hand to the President and by extension to all Democrats, liberals and progressives. We on the left should grasp it, shake it and display the same good will towards our fellow Americans that Congresswoman Giffords and all of those who were killed or wounded this past week end would show if they could. Disagree on policy but don't be disagreeable.

Posted by: army164 | January 13, 2011 3:36 PM | Report abuse

It is obvious that the President's call for civility had little influence on the people commenting here.

Posted by: jparks99 | January 13, 2011 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Your article was almost outstanding save for that ridiculous comment about the rebuke to the left.

Posted by: luvleep | January 13, 2011 3:52 PM | Report abuse

A lot of the responses here prove that the left has a lot of people out there who deny reality the way the right wing does and attack the author for the statements. What struck me was the difference in the President's response and that of Sarah Palin. His was one that demonstrated leadership. Hers was the to blame everyone else and to deny any culpability. Until you people get your heads out of where the sun doesn't shine, we'll never get to workable solutions.

Posted by: Denny_98 | January 13, 2011 4:03 PM | Report abuse

It could only have been a rebuke to the left because Thiessen and his buddies, as we all know, have never uttered or written one syllable that could be classified as extremist speech.

And I'll be appearing in your neighborhood soon.

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

The genius of the speech is that each side is sure Obama was rebuking the other side!

Acrually I thought it was a good speech too and it is great that a right-winger can see that as well. Good column, basically.

Posted by: catherine3 | January 13, 2011 4:14 PM | Report abuse

The "rebuke" hardly was aimed at "the left," as Thiessen imagines. It was aimed at all of us, both left and right. But don't delude yourself that Obama doesn't believe the Thiessens, Ailes, Bachmans and Palins of our nation have poisoned the discourse. Loughner was deranged to do what he did. What explains what the Thiessens et al say and do?

Posted by: gratianus | January 13, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

"Brilliant and courageous"?

There's a stain on your blue dress, Monica.

Posted by: diesel_skins_ | January 13, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

The passions of anger and hate appear to be stronger that those of caring and concern; especially when making comments in the Post.

Posted by: impressed1 | January 13, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Theissen, you just can't help yourself, can you? The crazy talk, the hate speech, the not-so-veiled references to guns and ammo are harbingers of the right, not the left.

It was a brilliant, moving and uplifting (for those of us capable of being inspired and moved).

Posted by: MNUSA | January 13, 2011 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Courageous is a soldier who runs into a firefight to save his buddy from being dragged away by the enemy, killing one of them in the process. Courageous is someone who grabs the gun before the shooter can reload. Courageous is an intern who keeps his head and stops the bleeding. Standing on a stage giving a speech is not courage. You pundits need to learn the difference. I am so sick of these people, and I have lived and worked in DC for over 20 years, both in the Legislative and Executive branches. This is Thiessen's attempt at spin.

Posted by: ikins | January 13, 2011 5:48 PM | Report abuse

What a spectacle at Tucson last night. Obama had no control over the crowd, which simply didn't know how to behave at a memorial service. We were treated to another national moment of Hallmark banality, from the obligatory singing of the pedestrian "Simple Things" to the cheering and clapping, to the inevitable media description (Pat Buchanan,of all people) of the President as the "Nation's Dad".
Well,what can you expect from a nation of people raised by television, socialized by sitcoms?

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

Good speech, anyone that sees themselves being vidicated is hearing exactly what they want to hear from the voices in their head.

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

"Vidicated?"

Posted by: ikins | January 13, 2011 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Let polls and votes show which approach the US public prefer. It's all fun and games until the Republicans nominate Palin, then it's just high comedy.

Posted by: wideblacksky | January 13, 2011 7:35 PM | Report abuse

To mix a metaphor, anyone who could hear that speech and think that the president was only chastising the left has blinders on.

Posted by: diogeron1 | January 14, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

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