Kicking off the 2012 campaign on the shoulders of the dead

Everyone is buzzing about the Tucson pep rally memorial service yesterday. The consensus seems to be that Obama was presidential and gave a wonderful speech that hit all the right notes. Ed Morrissey went so far as to say it might be the finest moment of his presidency. Rich Lowry called it a magnificent performance. Jim Hoft said it was the best speech he’s ever given. William Jacobsen called it a good speech, better in writing than in delivery. Charlie Martin was pleasantly surprised at the tone of the speech. And on and on and on. The overwhelming response seems to be fawning praise. It’s so amazing! The president gave a good speech! How wonderful!

I disagree.

Everything I saw at that memorial service last night disgusted me. First, there was the fact that this event, which was supposed to be a memorial service, was given a slogan. It was branded. The brand was stamped all over university buses preceding the event to advertise, as well as free t-shirts handed out to people who attended the service.

Oh, and the concession stands were open, too. Because you can’t pay your respects to those murdered by a madman without a large Coke and some popcorn, right?

Yet we’re somehow surprised at the pep rally-like atmosphere? Please. Add in some styrofoam Greek columns and you’d have Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention all over again. The disgusting, disrespectful whooping and cheering was infuriating — but not surprising. Obama played into it. Not once did he ask for solemnity or respect. Instead, he basked in the blow of the fawning adoration he’s undoubtedly missed since being elected. (Michelle points out that the raucous atmosphere was shockingly missing during President Bush’s memorial service after the Virginia Tech massacre.)

Best moment of his presidency? That says a lot more about how awful our president is than it does about how wonderful his speech was. It’s sad that we are so drawn into mere words that we ignore all actions. Giving a good speech does not make one a good leader, but judging by the reaction to Obama’s speech last night, we have apparently forgotten that little fact.

And for an event that, according to Obama himself, was supposed to be about “unity”, there was shockingly little present. Jan Brewer was booed as she spoke. The mayor of Tucson, for some strange reason, was not invited to speak, apparently because it was more important to hear from Obama’s cabinet members. The unity only applies to certain people, I guess. And his Democrat buddies certainly have wasted no time ignoring the call to unity — they’ve gone right back to attack and smear mode. Will Obama continue the call for unity while his bullies in the mainstream media continue on their merry little way? I’m not going to hold my breath. His speeches might sound pretty, but they don’t change anything.

This wasn’t a memorial service. It was a campaign speech. Have we really forgotten the 2008 campaign already? This event tonight was identical to nearly every stump speech he gave while campaigning to be president, right down to the soaring oratory. This is why I’m a little confused as to why so many on the right are so excited that Obama gave a good speech. Why is that something to be so amazed by? His speechwriters wrote a nice speech for him, and he read it off of his teleprompters magnificently. It meant nothing. The call for unity was as shallow as virtually every other platitude he came up with in virtually every speech he gave while running for president. I halfway expected the crowd to start chanting, yes we can! If anything, this speech should serve as a low point. Obama allowed what should have been a somber memorial service for the nation to pay our respects to the dead turn into a pep rally, and I think we’ve all got a sneaking suspicion why.

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Ava Gardner