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Reviews for the president's speech: This is the Obama we fell in love with

A moving performance:

We’ve been complaining for two years about the lack of music and passion in his big speeches. But if he’d moved the country when he was talking about healthcare or bailing out the auto industry, perhaps his words wouldn’t have been as powerful as they were when he was trying to lift the country up after the tragedy in Tucson.

“Our hearts are broken, and yet our hearts also have reason for fullness,” he said, in a call to action that finally moved the nation’s focus forward.  -- Gail Collins, the New York Times

This is the Obama we fell in love with:

 Barack Obama found his voice Wednesday night, the one the country fell in love with in ’08. Gone was the stiff, sober professor, and here was the president we’ve been yearning for, a man who understands the cadences of the heart along with the complexities of the tragedy that brought him to the stadium at the University of Arizona. The memorial service at times seemed more like a pep rally, and as the president invoked the lives of each of the fallen along with the many heroes that emerged from the shooting, smiles soon overtook the tears, and a spirit of unity and optimism took hold. -- Eleanor Clift, the Daily Beast

Powerful and uplifting:

It is a president’s responsibility to salve a national wound. President Obama did that on Wednesday evening at the memorial service in Tucson for the six people who died in last weekend’s terrible shooting. It was one of his most powerful and uplifting speeches. -- The New York Times editorial board


The most touching parts of the speech, for me, came near the end, when he talked about how families react on losing a parent or a spouse -- when he said that "in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame -- but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better." -- Eugene Robinson, the Washington Post

Worthy of applause:

The president did not ask us to put away passion but to act with restraint. It was not a call to stop fighting but to stop fighting dirty. He didn't just issue orders. By holding up the examples of the lives well lived -- and worthy of the applause they received -- he hoped to draw us to the lesson. The president was a speaker, but he was also a participant. "They help me believe," he said. Later, referring to Christina Taylor Green, he said: "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." -- John Dickerson, Slate

One star:

True, as always, he delivered as “Healer-in-Chief” and provided inspiration. This was Job 1 for the speech.


But there was another job: shutting down the nonsense about how Sarah Palin or right-wing talkers caused the shooting. This matters not only because it’s important to tell the truth, but also because it would set the stage to move on to really examining the true causes of this nightmare massacre.


Obama chided Americans to “be better,” as if we somehow caused this shooting to happen. -- Kirsten Powers, the Daily Beast

Thumbs down:

I am watching Obama give what appears to be a campaign speech in Arizona. Call me old fashioned, but the Arizona memorial event was more like a sporting event than a memorial service. The wolf whistles, the whooping and hollerin' for Obama, Big Sis Napolitano, Holder (?) et al is making my skin crawl. -- Conservative author Pamela Geller [via Rachel Maddow]

-- Alexandra Le Tellier


Comments () | Archives (12)

The comments to this entry are closed.




you should change the "we" in the title to "I". The media are only those in the media "fell" in love with him and held him up on the almighty pedestal


At some point people need to stop being so cynical and recognize not everything has a clandestine motivation. Obama rose above the stupidity of the blame game and said what we wanted to hear. That we are all better than this.


Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert should co-host a memorial service on the FOX News network for Sarah Palin's bruised ego, letting her know how badly all of America feels about her inarguably being the #1 biggest victim of the senseless AZ massacre. We can ignore the six innocent victims who died violent deaths, and their families who are wracked with grief, and just have a huge million man pity party for poor Sarah.

Mitchell Young

I concede it was a fine speech.

Of course, no one has been accusing Obama or his ideological colleagues of instigating murder. And since the evidence has been piling up that this killing had *zero* to do with Palin or Brewer or the Tea Party, it seems that Obama had but one descent position to take -- although it must be said he took it gracefully.

Mitchell Young



Words words words. Actions speak louder than words. Obama is the first person that needs to tone down his criticism. This was a written speech for Obama to read so he can appear patriotic. He has lied so much in the past, only time will tell if he has become a true leader.

Jon Healey

@Mitchell -- You're subtly but unfairly associating Obama with the Palin-blame-game just because some in his party did so.

IMHO, the president deftly steered the conversation away from the lone-gunman/don't-blame-the-rhetoric meme that the GOP has been advancing since the shooting and back to the there's-something-wrong-with-the-tone-of-our-debate meme. We should be elevating our discourse not because it will stop nutty shooters, he argued, but because it will better serve our country.

We can debate whether he's right about that, but I'm glad he said it. The criticism applies just as much to a Keith Olbermann as to a Rush Limbaugh; oddly, though, the only pushback I've seen of Obama's critique has come from the right. Maybe the extremists on the left just didn't realize Obama was talking about them too. Or maybe the folks on the right want to keep pushing the Marxist/Socialist/Kenyan button through 2012.


Lousy speech, lousy president...but then he has called me an enemy because I don't want his agenda.


The people in AZ despise Obama. He has his nerve to show up down there for a photo op when he won't even do the job he was elected to do, protect the border, control immigration. Then has the gall to Sue AZ when he wasn't doing his job! 70% of the people support the states immigration law.


We can debate whether he's right about that, but I'm glad he said it. The criticism applies just as much to a Keith Olbermann as to a Rush Limbaugh; oddly, though, the only pushback I've seen of Obama's critique has come from the right. Maybe the extremists on the left just didn't realize Obama was talking about them too. Or maybe the folks on the right want to keep pushing the Marxist/Socialist/Kenyan button through 2012.

Posted by: Jon Healey
We will push back, we aren't going to be silenced, you are dreaming. After 6 days of screaming its Palin's and the TP people's fault.. Obama is delusional if he thinks Conservatives are going to support him. Notice all the media listed here, the libelous yellow dog journalist media that smeared Palin as if laws on libel, slander, and defamation don't matter. They do matter and I hope Palin sues them all and breaks them. Where was Obama during these first 6 days to call out the media for libel? Doesn't he know the laws?
Disgusting.. there is no unity here. How could there be. His stupid kumbyah speech is too little too late.

Mitchell Young

@Jon, I really didn't mean to associate Obama with the blame game.

I think I was thinking more about a comparison with Palin's 'speech' -- although its a really strange to even be thinking that, as Obama is the president of the US of A, and Palin just a former Alaskan governor. But that's the weird place we are at in this country. Anyhoo, I don't think Obama or his team was coordinating with the 'shoot from the lippers' Krugman or the remnants of Journolist or even --more problematically -- his Secretary of State. He genuinely stepped above the fray on this occasion.



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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