Friday, January 14, 2011

Right Message, Wrong Time

I have to applaud President Obama for his statements a couple of days ago telling Americans we can be better and not inject vile politics into a tragedy like the Arizona shooting. It was the right thing to say and I can't argue with it, given how vile the political rhetoric has gotten in the wake of the shooting.

If you're sensing a "but" coming, you're right. I do take issue with the President's statement from a timing aspect. This was a statement that could have and should have been made on the day of the shooting, preferably prior to the Paul Krugmans of the media world deciding Palin and conservatives were to blame for the shooter's actions (all prior to gathering those pesky things called facts). As it stands, Obama told people to tone down the rhetoric after the rhetorical barn door had already been opened and all the cattle had stampeded out of there.

This speaks to two aspects of the Obama Administration. First, it reinforces Obama's lack of leadership skills. When this series of events was unfolding, a leader would have had the foresight to see the potential for chaos to break out and try to curtail it before it happened. Obama didn't, and chaos ensued.

The other aspect is the pure political nature of the Obama Administration. Rahm Emmanuel loved to say "Never let a good crisis go to waste" and Obama didn't in this case. His delay in issuing a statement telling Americans to ratchet down the political rhetoric allowed people who agreed with him (such as the aforementioned Paul Krugman) to set the narrative on his behalf. The Left ran with the "Palin/Beck/Limbaugh/TEA Party is to blame" idea for days before Obama stepped in and told us to be better. That, I believe, was a political calculation designed to further demonize his opponents in a way that couldn't be linked directly to him and to give him an opportunity to appear above the fray.

Sorry, Mr. President, but you're hip deep in this with your silence. Like it or not, your silence actually enabled the heated rhetoric you're now telling us to discard, and your ideological pals on the Left aren't listening. That undercuts the heart of your message to the point it's now irrelevant.

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