Posts Tagged Giffords Shooting

Reflections on Speech and Speeches

Enabled by the excuse of being temporarily dislocated, I also decided to wait until the dust had settled on the Arizona shootings to comment on them, and on the political reaction to them.  It seemed to me better to wait, rather than jump in with all sorts of assumptions of the kind that have justly earned so many commentators on the left the disdain of most Americans.  Now, with things having settled down, I can safely put pen to pixel.

I’m pleased that Obama gave the speech he did, rather than the one we were afraid he would.  The audience’s behavior was atrocious, the fact that public officials rather than religious figures quoted the Bible was regrettable, and the administration bears responsibility for the program.  But all that doesn’t tell us anything new.

Obama’s speech itself did rise to the occasion, and I’ll refer people to Ross Kaminsky’s analysis here.  All of that said, there’s no particular reason to believe that it was sincere.  After all, it’s easy to call off the game when your side it getting creamed, and that’s largely what happened here.  If the President could score a few harmless points off people who’ll support him anyway, and by doing so, appear to move to the center on a matter of optics rather than policy, it was little more than a smart political move.  He gets some points for abandoning a shrill attack machine in its tracks.  Let’s not forget that he helped create that machine, and that it had apparently thrown a rod and was leaking oil all over the road.

Among the worst offenders was our own Representative Diana DeGette, who used an appearance on KOA on Monday afternoon to try to link the shooting to ObamaCare.  She argued that Speaker Boehner had taken a large step, doing the right thing by lowering the temperature of the political debate, by putting off the ObamaCare repeal vote.  The vote was, according to her, “controversial,” “not going anywhere,” and, “intended to appease the Republican base.”  This comment just about encapsulates DeGette’s unworthiness to represent us in Congress.

The vote, in fact, isn’t all that controversial -60% of voters consistently support repeal.  Which means that the Senate’s vote to keep ObamaCare in place, or more likely, its vote to kill repeal in committee and prevent a floor vote at all, is the real base-pandering going on here.  If we stipulate – for the purposes of discussion – that it’s a symbolic vote, then it ought not be controversial at all.  Controversy is what happens when you actually seek to pass a wildly unpopular bill into law, and what you seek to avoid by doing so at midnight on a Saturday.

The same interview saw DeGette claim that despite protests at her home, her church, her office (I’ve lived near DeGette for 13 years and can’t remember any newsworthy protests at her house), she bravely soldiers on, meeting with voters as before.  That, at least, is undoubtedly true, as her only town hall appearance during the health care debate was by telephone.

We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that, essentially, there was nothing at stake here for the President and his party.  They continued to bull ahead pushing the health care overhaul despite its obvious unpopularity because the prize – nationalizing health care – was worth an election defeat, even a shellacking.  Here, they were launching a major PR offensive to score what would, in military terms, be a minor objective in a long campaign.  They may love censors and hate guns, but the FCC will or won’t try to reimpose the Fairness Doctrine anyway, and even the state where the attacks took place seems uninterested in revising its Vermont-style concealed carry.

But the campaign against self-protection and for “civility” by the Left isn’t over, it’s just looking for a better fight to pick, and the President signalled that, as well.  If a supposed lack of civility by the right didn’t cause or encourage this attack, then the attack, by definition, can’t provide us any lessons in the importance of civility.  And restraining my speech in response is an offense against society, not a protection of it.  If Arizona law would have permitted the family to keep an obviously unstable man off the streets, then restraining my right to carry a weapon on that basis is likewise an offense against society, not a protection of it.  (And if Arizona law didn’t permit that, then it ought have.)

We may allow the President his moment of appearing Presidential.  We ought not allow that to obscure the very real, very menacing agenda his party still holds.

UPDATE: I have been informed that Representative DeGette did indeed hold at least one live, in person, townhal during the health care debate.  It was called at the last minute, and timed to coincide with a large anti-ObamaCare rally at the state capitol.  Holding a townhall on the most contentious issue of your tenure at a time when you know that most of those hostile to your position will be otherwise occupied is hardly the most courageous stand for a member of Congressional leadership to take.


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