At the risk of offending my fellow Liberals and Obamacrats, I was underwhelmed and unimpressed by the spectacle in Arizona last night. What was meant to be a memorial service for the victims of Saturday's shooting in Tucson, and a call for national unity, looked more like a Golden Globes or Academy Award ceremony than a solemn tribute, rife with self-congratulation and applause for anyone and everyone involved. The fact that a member of Congress was one of those shot made this a national story. People are shot and killed every day on the streets of places like Philadelphia and Camden, but these incidents barely register as news items.
The only inspirational speech was made by Daniel Hernandez, the intern whose quick reaction after the shooting may have saved Gabrielle Giffords' life. In his brief speech, Hernandez rejected he label, "hero", and praised the first responders who came to the aid of those who were shot and the doctors who continue to care for the injured.
With his brown skin and Hispanic name, it's a good thing the Arizona police didn't stop Mr. Hernandez and demand to see his "papers" as he was rushing to Congresswoman Giffords' aid.
The President's speech was too long, and his calls for bipartisanship and national unity will quickly be forgotten in a day or two as the Republicans in Congress get back to the business of opposing everything on the President's agenda (what is his agenda, anyway?) and the futile effort to repeal "Obamacare".
And, why, oh why, must everything ultimately be about Sarah Palin? Many are blaming Palin, and inflammatory rhetoric spewed by her and her right-wing cohorts for stirring up the anger that resulted in this shooting. Do we need a new version of Godwin's Law, in which all roads lead to Palin in any political situation? After the release of her bizarre, unapologetic video, with its anti-Semitic overtones and references to the good olde days of gun duels, many are writing her political obituary. I say, not so fast. I do not see anyone in the Republican establishment denouncing or distancing themselves from Palin. If there was ever an opportunity to do so, now would be the time, if they really intend to derail her 2012 presidential aspirations.
As for President, Obama, in the event he is ever called upon again to offer words in the wake of some national tragedy or disaster, he should borrow a page from his political hero, Abraham Lincoln, whose 270 word (more or less) Gettysburg address he paraphrased last night. The Tuscon shooting, as tragic as it was, was no Gettysburg, and Barack Obama is no Abraham Lincoln.