Tuscon: Memorial Service or Political Event?

Let me say at the outset that I believe the tragedy in Tucson to be a horrific act of violence that sadly claimed the lives of innocent people. I am sad for the families, especially the family of nine year old Christina Green.

However, I am appalled at the way that this has been politicized right up to and including the memorial service.  Some elements came across more like a rock concert or a political pep-rally.  Writing of the air surrounding the event, John Hayward authored an excellent editorial at humanevents.com titled, “Two Events In Tucson,” where he comments, “There doesn’t seem to have been much effort to engineer an atmosphere of solemn dignity.”  When was the last time you attended a memorial service that had a slogan (Together We Thrive) and T-Shirts? Or heard one of the speakers (eulogists) be booed (NYT).  I am torn; torn between compassion for the grieving families of the victims and disgust for those that would use this for political gain.

Should the President of the United States attend?  Yes.  A federal judge was killed.  A member of Congress was shot in an assassination attempt.  The President should be there.  Should he speak?  Possibly.

Unfortunately, Barack Obama has a tendency to come across as a scolding teacher when speaking these kind of words.  And this should not be is politicized, although I fully expect it will be – by both sides.  We’ve been told by the President that “if this tragedy prompts reflection and debate — as it should — let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost.Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point-scoring and pettiness that drifts away in the next news cycle.”  I hope he can keep that promise.  But I think that in less than a month we will see Democrats and Republicans in Congress going at each other’s throats once again.

And what of the President taking a dose of his own advice?  He said, “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.”  It is hard to see that as a credible statement from someone who says he’s “itching for a fight,” and called for certain voters to “punish your enemies.”

The most anticipated, and problematic, passage in the President’s speech was his call for a return to civility in politics.  “What we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another,” he declared.  Sorry, Mr. President, but a vast segment of your supporters has already done that.

There was never any political dimension to the awful story of a deranged loner who tried to assassinate a woman he was obsessed with, killing six other people in the attempt.  The only reason we are discussing the nature of our discourse in connection with the case is because the Left manufactured that connection out of thin air.

This tragedy was a crime, but there is no evidence that it was politically motivated.  Even Obama referenced that in his remarks.  The reason that we are even having this conversation (and being lectured by the professor) is that the Left, within minutes of the shooting, began blaming the “vitriol” of the right, even though there was little to no evidence to suggest that was the case.