I tuned in via TV on 12 January to the Tucson ceremonies just as Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano rose to speak, though the term pep rally might be about as appropriate a description, made that way, of course, since it was held in an athletic gymnasium and therefore inordinately attended by college students whose minds are sometimes on vacation, no matter where their bodies are. They were accustomed to screaming at ballgames, so why not a bit of screaming for anything held in the gym?
Imagine my amazement when all Napolitano did (and very appropriately) was read a long Old Testament passage from Isaiah, only to be followed by Attorney General Holder, who read a long New Testament passage from the writings of the apostle Paul. Neither said anything else. These were top echelon government officials reading from the Bible on a government-owned campus, so one wonders how long it will take for the politically-correct-mongers to scream “violation of First Amendment rights.” There was not a word about Allah, for instance, or the god Nihilism, for the atheists. The scripture-reading identified the service as a funeral, but that didn’t matter.
The affair was planned, one presumes, to be a solemn occasion. After all, six people were killed by Jared Loughner and this was supposedly a memorial to them. Instead (at least when the president spoke), it was turned into more of a campaign rally, putting one in mind of the funeral for Senator Wellstone after he and his wife and daughter, among others, were killed in a plane-crash in 2002 while campaigning for reelection in Minnesota. That circus was displayed on C-Span, and many folks believe it cost Wellstone’s substitute, Walter Mondale, the election. The scenes are still on the Internet and it’s worth a look just to see Senator Harkin doing his version of the “Dean Scream,” made famous later in Iowa in 2004. Then-Governor and Mrs. Ventura walked out.
This is not to say the president was not eloquent or that he invited the reaction, but does anyone remember anything like the constant clapping, screaming, and rising and sitting during the president’s speech in November 2009 at Ft. Hood, where 13 people were massacred by Major Hasan? Was the difference simply that in Tucson older adolescents had no idea what was happening, while at Ft. Hood adults were in mourning? Or was something else in play?
The president, between the episodes of unseemly outbursts, went to some lengths to speak passionately of the victims very personally, as well as about the survivors, and about all their families. If he had left it at that (and surely understanding what was happening), he would have done well. That was not to be. One wonders if he gloried in the moment.
Perhaps because his liberal base (especially folks in the mainline media such as NBC, MSNBC, CBS, CNN, ABC, NY Times) had castigated conservatives (think Palin, Limbaugh, Beck) for having driven Loughner, an obvious madman, to performing his murders, Obama thought he had to address the subject of civility, never mind that after the BP oil-spill he had mentioned his search for “asses to kick,” and earlier had accused Boston-area policemen of “acting stupidly” when they were only doing their jobs. Ironically, it has been determined that Loughner paid no attention to the newsies/commentators/talking-heads.
Or, there was the case of Shirley Sherrod, a Georgia state official who was falsely accused of racism and on orders from Washington was forced to pull her car off the road last summer and submit her resignation on her Blackberry, a fine example of civility. Again ironically, the polls taken since the murders have indicated that a significant majority of citizens have paid little heed to the politically correct crowd that panders in behalf of Obama. They just figure rightly that a psycho was loose on that day and that civility was not an issue.
One hopes that the funeral was not actually planned as a rally of some sort, but is mindful that the president is putting together his campaign team for 2012. With one sentence, he could have stopped the chaos and reminded all the folks why they were there…but he didn’t. That just about says it all. The democrats danced on Wellstone’s grave in 2002. Did the same thing happen in Tucson with regard to those who died?