Wash. Times Hosts Unhinged Attacks On Obama's Speech, Tucson Memorial Service


In the week since the memorial service for the victims of the shootings in Tucson, Arizona, The Washington Times has published op-eds attacking President Obama over his speech and criticizing the service as a "political rally" and a "campaign event."

Kuhner: Obama's Speech "Was A Surreal Spectacle In Narcissistic Self-Congratulation"

Kuhner: Obama's Memorial Address "Was A Surreal Spectacle In Narcissistic Self-Congratulation" That "Dishonored The Victims." In a January 13 Washington Times op-ed titled, "Obama's Tucson degradation," Jeffrey Kuhner wrote that Obama is "cynically exploiting the tragic shooting in Tucson for political gain" and that his memorial address "was a surreal spectacle in narcissistic self-congratulation" that "dishonored the victims" of the shootings. From Kuhner's op-ed:

President Obama is cynically exploiting the tragic shooting in Tucson for political gain. His memorial address Wednesday night was a surreal spectacle in narcissistic self-congratulation. It dishonored the victims, those who were murdered and maimed by Jared Lee Loughner, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona Democrat.

Instead of being a solemn and serious event, the memorial resembled a pro-Obama pep rally. The president of Arizona University praised Mr. Obama for his "visionary" and "courageous" leadership. Throughout the memorial and Mr. Obama's speech, students regularly cheered, clapped, whistled and hollered. All the while, the president basked in his newfound glory. The address rekindled some of the magic - the euphoria, the soaring rhetoric - of the 2008 campaign. Mr. Obama lectured Americans about the need for "civility" in our national discourse. He even invoked the memory of a slain 9-year-old girl, Christina Green, urging America to use the tragedy to create a more decent, united and harmonious republic and thereby "live up to her expectations." [The Washington Times, 1/13/11]

Kuhner: Victims Were "Doubly Degraded By A Narcissistic President Who Used Their Suffering As Political Fodder." In his op-ed, Kuhner further wrote:

Indeed, Mr. Loughner pulled the trigger and is solely responsible for the atrocity. But the radical legacy of the 1960s enabled him. In tandem, Mr. Obama epitomizes the self-centeredness unleashed by the permissive era by turning a memorial rooted in grief into a celebration of himself. The Tucson victims were thus brutalized by a deranged young man who should have been institutionalized and then doubly degraded by a narcissistic president who used their suffering as political fodder. [The Washington Times, 1/13/11]

Knight Calls Memorial Service A "Campaign Event," Attacks Obama Over Comments About 9-Year-Old Victim

Knight: Memorial Service The "First Major Campaign Event Of The 2012 Presidential Election." In a January 18 Washington Times op-ed, Robert Knight called the Tucson memorial service the "first major campaign event of the 2012 presidential election" and asked, "When, for instance, have you been to a memorial service where cheers and yells punctuated the eulogy and where political campaign T-shirts were draped over seats or given out to mourners at the door?" [The Washington Times, 1/18/11]

In Fact, Contrary To Knight's Claim, Shirts Were Not "Political Campaign T-Shirts." Contrary to Knight's claim that the shirts provided at the service were "political campaign T-shirts," PolitiFact noted that "officials at the University of Arizona said the White House had nothing to do with the name or the logo." [PolitiFact.com, 1/13/11]

Knight Attacks Obama Over Phrase "Life Partners," Comments About 9-Year-Old Victim Because Children "Are Not Morally Superior." From Knight's op-ed:

Another calculating element in the speech was this: "In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners."

"Life partners?" That's either same-sex or cohabiting couples. In the not too distant past, a president would have paid homage to the victims' marriages without stretching for politically correct "inclusion."

Finally, there's Mr. Obama's sweet eulogy to little Christina. Anyone not touched by his words must have a heart of stone. But Mr. Obama went a bit further:

"I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it. All of us, we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations."

Well, hold on. Children, God bless them, are not morally superior. In fact, they plot and hoard and steal and throw tantrums. It takes a lifetime to burnish away the layers of selfishness that plague us all. Psalm 53 reminds us that "there is none who does good, no, not one." This idea that we can learn from innocent children is a liberal fallacy originating in Rousseau's myth of the noble savage. [The Washington Times, 1/18/11]

Graham: "Ignoring God ... Is Appalling Mistake"

Franklin Graham: "Prayer Service Turns To Rally." In a January 18 Washington Times op-ed titled, "Prayer service turns to rally; Ignoring God and Tucson clergy is appalling mistake," Franklin Graham wrote:

I may not have voted for him, and may disagree with him on various policy issues, but last Wednesday night in Tucson, Mr. Obama was my president. I'm less proud, if not embarrassed, by what else took place in the McKale Center. I was disappointed by an audience that often sounded and acted as if it was at a political rally. [The Washington Times, 1/18/11]

In Fact, Obama Made Numerous References To God And The Scripture. Contrary to Graham's suggestion that the memorial service "Ignor[ed] God," Obama himself made numerous references to God and biblical Scripture. From his speech:

There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts. But know this: The hopes of a nation are here tonight. We mourn with you for the fallen. We join you in your grief. And we add our faith to yours that Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the other living victims of this tragedy will pull through. (Applause.)

Scripture tells us:

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;

God will help her at break of day.


Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, "When I looked for light, then came darkness." Bad things happen, and we have to guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.


If there are rain puddles in Heaven, Christina is jumping in them today. (Applause.) And here on this Earth -- here on this Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and we commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.

May God bless and keep those we've lost in restful and eternal peace. May He love and watch over the survivors. And may He bless the United States of America. [WhiteHouse.gov, 1/12/11, accessed 1/19/11]

Graham Attacks Native American Blessing At Memorial Service As "Disturbing." In his Washington Times op-ed, Graham wrote that the "pep rally" atmosphere of the service "was not the most disturbing sight to me." Graham then discussed the traditional Native American blessing delivered at the service by University of Arizona professor Carlos Gonzales:

Carlos Gonzales, a member of the Pascua Yaqui tribe, was introduced to offer a blessing amidst loud cheering, at which time he introduced himself as "not a medicine man - just a family doc." What followed, an 8 1/2-minute self-tribute, more resembled an Academy Award acceptance speech than a prayer or a blessing.

Mr. Gonzales blessed the "eastern door, from where we get visions and guidance," the "southern door, where we get the energies of the family," the "western door, where we honor the sacred ways and sacred ancestors," and the "northern door, where we receive challenges and the strength to meet those challenges." Rather than calling on the God of heaven who made us and created this universe, which He holds in the palm of His hand, the university professor called out to "Father Sky, where we get our masculine energy" and "Mother Earth, where we get our feminine energy."

How sad. Father Sky and Mother Earth can do nothing to comfort Capt. Mark Kelly, who had been at the bedside of his wife, Rep. Giffords, wondering if she'd ever leave her bed. Or Mavy Stoddard, who was only alive because her husband sacrificed his life by shielding her with his body. Or the family, classmates, teammates and friends of little Christina, whose life was snuffed out before she could play another season of Little League. [The Washington Times, 1/18/11]

Graham Joins Other Conservatives In Attacking Native American Blessing. As Media Matters noted, following the memorial service numerous right-wing media attacked and mocked the inclusion of Gonzales' blessing as part of the invocation. [Media Matters, 1/13/11]

Vast Majority Of Country Approves Of Obama's Response To AZ Attack

ABC News/Washington Post poll: 78 Percent Approve Of Obama's Response To "Shooting Incident." A recently released ABC News/Washington Post poll asked respondents, "Do you approve or disapprove of the way" Obama "has responded to this shooting incident?" Seventy-eight percent of respondents approved of Obama's response. [Washington Post, 1/17/11]

Yet, Right-Wing Media Have Strained To Attack Obama's Memorial Speech

Despite Being Widely Praised, Right-Wing Media Have Strained To Attack Obama's Speech. Following Obama's widely praised address at the memorial, right-wing media have strained to find ways to attack him. Their attacks have included the presence of T-shirts at the event, the "pep ally" atmosphere, and the timing of Obama's speech, among other things. [Media Matters, 1/13/11]

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.