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Posted at 9:04 AM ET, 01/12/2011

What kind of service is appropriate for the Arizona shooting victims?

By Jennifer Rubin

President Obama travels to Arizona today for a memorial service for the victims of the Arizona massacre. The Post reports on the details. "The service is set for 8 p.m. Eastern time at the University of Arizona's basketball arena, the school said. It will include a Native American blessing, a moment of silence, a poetry reading and the presentation of a chain featuring messages from members of the public, the school announced." Does all of this seem appropriate to the occasion? Frankly, it sounds kind of weird and unserious.

A Republican, a former White House official, spots a typical advance planning snafu. He surmises, "I'm sure this was the plan when the memorial service was being designed by some vice president for community affairs at the University of Arizona. Then the president decided to come, and a few hours later, a White House advance team showed up. Right now, I'd bet that advance team is insisting on the presence of a priest, a minister and a rabbi -- and is trying to figure out if they can ditch the Native American component without causing a fuss." He suspects, "They're also getting to work editing the 'chain featuring messages from members of the public.'"

Unfortunately, I'm not able to make the trip to Arizona. But a plane-load (at least) of reporters will be going along. Is this game plan really going to stick? Or are there more sober heads and anxious staffers scrambling to redo the event, to lose the kitsch and to come up with something that more closely resembles the sort of memorial service the public has become accustomed to? I'd welcome some reports from the White House press corps on this one.

Finally, on a more positive note, maybe the president has learned something over the last few days. The New York Times reports:

President Obama will focus his speech at a memorial service in Tucson on Wednesday evening on the victims of the attack and on the idea of service to the country, avoiding any overt commentary on the debate over violence and the nation's political culture. Instead, Mr. Obama, who was still working with his speechwriters on his remarks on Tuesday, will call for unity among Americans, while trying to honor the victims, including their service to government, as an example to all Americans. He will share the anecdotes about the victims that he has learned during private phone calls to the families, aides said.

But only "overt" commentary? Let's see if he can avoid not-so-overt commentary too.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 12, 2011; 9:04 AM ET
Categories:  Arizona shooting  
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Comments

I hope Obama has the good sense not to politicize this horrible event the way many of his supporters in the media have done. No self-serving commentary about our political culture, please. That has nothing to do with Loughner.

Posted by: eoniii | January 12, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

We can only hope. It sounds like that is the direction in which he is heading.

Posted by: Jennifer Rubin | January 12, 2011 10:43 AM | Report abuse

What religious setting do the family members want? That should be the only guidelines. As to the rest, less is more. It is sounding increasingly like American Idol and less like a dignified memorial service.

Posted by: garrettc1 | January 12, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Are the oddities of the service any more weird than your criticizing a memorial service for the victims, especially one that hasn't even happened yet?

Who is using the service to make a political statement now?

Posted by: 54465446 | January 12, 2011 12:27 PM | Report abuse

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