And in it he spins.
How surprising is that?
First Jack's somewhat surprising opening:
I rarely have had nice things to say about President Barack Obama. But I was proud of him Wednesday night. His speech at the memorial service for the victims of the Tucson massacre ranked up there with the speech President Ronald Reagan gave after the Challenger disaster, and the speech President George W. Bush gave after 9/11.It's interesting to see the list that Jack uses. No where is there the discussion of President Clinton's speech after the Oklahoma City bombing. We'll see why in a minute.
Next Jack's spin:
The president's remarks rescued what could have been an awkward situation. The venue, the behavior of much of the audience and the remarks of warm-up speakers were more suited to a political pep rally, unseemly for a somber occasion. It reminded me of how the memorial service in 2002 for Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn, was abused for political purposes.There it is. That's what this column is about - how the Democrats are spinning the violence in Tucson. Just like how the Wellstone memorial was "abused for political purposes."
Except it wasn't. Safe to say that Jack wasn't there in 2002. Minnesota Senator Al Franken was, however. And this is what Senator Franken had to say:
To this day, there are still a lot of people, including Democrats, who've bought the right wing line on the Wellstone Memorial. Specifically, that it was a cynical, premeditated political event that included endless booing of Republican politicians who came to pay their respects to their fallen colleague. I wrote a pretty detailed account of the Wellstone Memorial in my book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, and nothing could be further from the truth. I did write that "reasonable people of good will were genuinely offended." The memorial was raucous and a couple of speakers said some things that were inappropriate - basically, let's win this (upcoming Senate) election for Paul.And then he sums up things nicely:
There were also honest Republicans of good will, including Jim Ramstad - the Congressman from the Minneapolis suburban district I grew up in - who acted like human beings and cut the speakers who offended (Rick Kahn and, to a lesser degree, Mark Wellstone) a little slack because they understood that Rick had lost six very close friends and Mark had lost his father, mother, and sister.
The chapter was mainly about how cynically Republicans used the memorial politically as they complained that the Democrats had used it politically.And then we see why Jack omits Clinton's Oklahoma speech:
Mr. Obama's tone doubtless was disappointing to some in his party, who were hoping he would turn the tragedy to partisan political advantage. An unnamed Democratic political operative told Politico Monday that the White House needed to "deftly pin this on the tea partiers. Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people."Which is actually true.
Another Democratic strategist said the similarity between the Tucson massacre and Oklahoma City is that both "take place in a climate of bitter and virulent rhetoric against the government and Democrats."
So here we are. Jack's charge is that Democrats using the shooting for political purposes when it's actually Republicans spinning the Democrat's reactions for their own political purposes.