Tucson Speech Proves Obama's Back

Most agree his memorial speech was brilliant
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2011 8:25 AM CST
President Barack Obama speaks at a memorial service for the victims of Saturday's shootings at McKale Center on the University of Arizona campus Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011, in Tucson, Ariz.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – President Obama’s speech yesterday was, by most accounts, a smash success. A few takes:

  • “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 health care or bailing out the auto industry, perhaps his words wouldn’t have been as powerful as they were” yesterday, writes Gail Collins in the New York Times. This speech was full of the old “magic,” and the best moment was his plea that we not turn on each other.
  • This was “arguably the best written [speech] of his presidency so far,” writes Nile Gardiner in the Telegraph, calling it “a powerful rebuke” and rejection of the “cynical attempts to politicize a national tragedy that claimed six lives … This was a statesmanlike address by a president who has frequently failed in the past to show real leadership at important moments.”

  • Though the speech was supposed to be apolitical, it “nonetheless carried a powerful political message” about “elevating political discourse,” writes Glenn Thrush on Politico. It was “one of the most passionate, if hard-to-define speeches of his presidency.” But, he notes, not everyone agrees: One of George W. Bush’s speechwriters “said on CNN that he found this speech to be preachy, overly long and given in an atmosphere that seemed more like a pep rally.”
  • But even some on the right were impressed: Writes Rich Lowry in the National Review, “The pep-rally atmosphere was inappropriate and disconcerting, but President Obama turned in a magnificent performance. This was a non-accusatory, genuinely civil, case for civility, in stark contrast to what we’ve read and heard over the last few days. Well done.”
Click for more on Obama’s speech.

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