As President Obama was giving his speech in Tucson last night, I was headed to a TV studio, where I had a debate with the NRO's Cliff May about the speech as well as the state of political discourse in our nation. I had checked my twitter feed 20 seconds before I went on air live to get a feel of the atmosphere out there and immediately I saw both right and left voices for the most part praised it. I then conveyed that to Al-Jazeera English's audience.
[The debate I had with Cliff May was fun and although it wasn't the setting for a raucous discussion, I had to cut him off after he tried to equate the left with the vitriol and violence of the right that last few years. When I began making my points that the right has been way out of line and off the wall, May said that he had gotten so many death threats he needed bodyguards. This is Cliff May I'm talking about and I bet most readers don't even remember his disgraceful behavior during the Valerie Plame affair. He then started to get nervous when I began to list all the violence that had taken place since Obama was elected, including the Richard Poplawski shooting of three police officers, and he tried to cut me off.]
Back to the speech.
When the President talked about Gabby opening her eyes and young Christina Green's youthful outlook on public service, it was quite moving. It was a great speech -- his best since he became President -- and I hope it does some healing in Arizona and makes people start behaving differently. They know who they are, but I'm not confident that it will have the desired effect we'd wish. I think the constant cheering by the audience was a way to work out their grief and sadness and to deal with the tragedy; if ever a crowd needed something to cheer about, this was it.
John Boehner not showing up was very weird. He's Majority Leader now and should at least act like one. There were so many that made the trip and he stayed behind to go to an RNC function. Wow.
Fox News had on Brit Hume, Charles Krauthammer and Chris Wallace after the speech to dissect it, and although they thought it was rather long and the cheering made them uneasy, they all thought the President did a wonderful job. Wallace was insistent that while the speech was good, it won't have any lasting effect because the Republicans take control next week, but Krauthammer told the FOX panel that they shouldn't minimize the positive and lasting effect the speech will have on the American people. Sometimes he can make some astute observations when he wants to.
On the flip side, Rachel Maddow gave a very good analysis of the speech as she went through it piece by piece. Later on MSNBC had on Tom Brokaw, who is now their grand poobah and he also enjoyed the speech and tried to attach a historical perspective to it -- and then blasted Sarah Palin for her bizarre whining video. David Frum came on later and basically said her popularity after that video is like an iceberg melting on all sides. She blew her chance at rising above any petty complaint she had and tarnished her sinking image immeasurably.
(I didn't get a chance to check out CNN.)