I thought Obama hit just the right notes at his speech in Tuscon, and since he reportedly stayed up much of the night writing the speech himself, it obviously came from his heart. As a number of my conservative friends remarked, "He was presidential." Words for all of us to keep in mind:
"To sharpen our instincts for empathy...(to) make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”
“If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost,” Mr. Obama said. “Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle." Text.
In the age of the Internet, where billions of people can speak their mind, there will always be unreasonable and extremist voices out there. By reacting so frequently -- indeed by defining ourselves mostly in reaction -- we give extremist voices the thing they desire most -- attention -- and don't communicate what we really stand FOR in a positive way, just what we stand against.
A conservative friend responds:
That sort of clear-eyed, even-handed, common sense commentary exemplifies the “discussion” some of the town criers around here claimed to be conducting, even as they seized the earliest unwarrantable opportunity to smear the victims’ blood on the hands of their chosen political targets. Their shamelessness in that regard apparently has no limits.
You and I are probably miles apart politically but I agree completely with what you said, and have tried to convey the same message (quite unsuccessfully) since this thing began. Actually you haven’t really said much at all over and above what could be said based on what is known,, which is why it makes so much sense.
It is good to know that there are people remaining on both sides who can disagree on most issues yet refrain from trying to rip the opposition’s throat out in blame every time some random lunatic snaps, or at the very least wait until some semblance of supportable evidence comes to light. Hearing you alone (I think)on the left echoing my exact sentiments gives me some badly-needed hope because the depths of the political sewer-dwelling on this one is among the most indecent and depressing of any “discussion” I think I have ever followed around here, from people who I thought were above it.
The sewer is always out there for anyone who wishes to dwell in it. I know "liberal" activists who have long since abandoned Daily Kos because of the acerbic attacks on them and on Obama from the left. I used to be disturbed by the Internet's empowering of the voices of the fringes. And yet I don't think they represent a statistically larger percentage of people than they did before the Internet was invented.
It's easy to attack one's opponents at their weakest point, to presume their motives are always base or self-serving, to denigrate and demean through distortion and ad hominem attacks. That's a kind of pollution. The challenge is to honestly wrestle with their strongest points.
Some of us define ourselves by what we are against, the unreasonableness of the left or the right. But it's impossible to sustain that outrage on a daily basis forever -- at some point you do have to look inward and see the flaws in your own logic.
Joel Achenbach: "Will Obama's appeal to the better angels of our nature succeed? It hasn't yet. It probably never will. Because the market favors rancor. The technology favors the judgment-rushers, the instant reaction, which by definition can't be terribly thoughtful. The TV ratings favor the furious."