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Healer in Chief

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Posted on Jan 14, 2011
White House / Pete Souza

By Eugene Robinson

The powerful elegy that President Obama delivered in Tucson was a big step toward his long-held goal of transforming the nation’s choleric and dysfunctional political culture. Subsequent steps will be harder—but no longer seem impossible.

Listening to Obama’s speech brought back memories of Obama the candidate, a mesmerizing orator with the power to summon visions of a better America. He seemed almost to transcend politics.

If you listened to what candidate Obama was saying, he often came back to a central theme: Our political system is mired in trench warfare, along battle lines that were established decades ago. We will only be able to move forward if we get beyond the arbitrary and obsolete divisions that keep us at one another’s throats.

For the first two years of his administration, however, the ideological combat has escalated. Obama’s political adversaries bear some of the responsibility; his allies bear their share as well.

So does the president. While he never stopped preaching his message of getting past the old dichotomies—progressive-conservative, left-right, Democrat-Republican—he also never devised a new template for political discourse. Washington quickly fell back into its old ways.

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Wednesday night, in his moving tribute to those slain and injured in the Tucson shooting, the president created for himself another opportunity to bring about the transformation he seeks. It is fitting that the key passage came as Obama, the father of two daughters, was talking about the massacre’s youngest victim: Christina Taylor Green, a 9-year-old who was there because she wanted to meet her congresswoman, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

“I want to live up to her expectations,” Obama said, his voice rising like that of a preacher nearing the end of his sermon. “I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it.”

He noted that Christina had been featured in a book about 50 children who were born on Sept. 11, 2001. “If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today,” Obama said. “And 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.”

That’s a beginning. One thing we can all agree on is that we want to leave a better nation and a better world to our children, but fear we will not. This could be part of a framework that’s oriented not on a left-right axis but a temporal axis—what will be the effect of a certain measure now, and what will be the effect 20 years from now.

Don’t smirk. I realize that every politician always claims to be acting on behalf of future generations—and some actually mean it. But for most of our country’s history, Americans have been able to have confidence that our children will have better lives than our own, pretty much regardless of how we might screw things up. That’s not true anymore.

As I said, the next steps will be hard. There are genuine, legitimate disagreements on a host of issues, and some look almost impossible to reconcile.

The Tucson tragedy presents an example. I believe passionately that the slayings illustrate, once again, the urgent need for sensible gun control laws that get assault weapons out of the stores and off the streets. There are those who believe with equal passion, however, that tough gun control measures would amount to trading away an unacceptable measure of freedom in exchange for more security.

I don’t see it this way at all. But I do recall making a similar freedom-vs.-security argument in opposing some of the anti-terrorism measures that were enacted by the George W. Bush administration. Perhaps acknowledging that we at least share the same thinking process is a beginning, even as we argue our different opinions.

And argue them we must. President Obama’s call for civility in our public discourse should not preclude vigorous debate, often in strong language. But if we can “question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country,” as Obama asked us to do, we’ll have taken another step along a newly promising road.

Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)washpost.com.
   
© 2011, Washington Post Writers Group


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By surfnow, January 14, 2011 at 9:21 am Link to this comment

Eugene Robinson=Paid Democratic Party Shill.  If Barack Obama really wanted to begin “healing” America, he would not have escalated in Afghanistan. He would not have bailed out the corrupt Wall Street Banksters. He would not be kowtowing to big pharamacy and big oil. If he was really interested in helping America he would be creating jobs. His lofty words and rhetoric is as meaningless and grating as George Bush’s inanities were.

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By bogi666, January 14, 2011 at 9:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I must have missed the mesmerizing speeches ObomberBush supposedly gave in 2008. All I heard was a lot of platitudes, never a commitment to support Social Security which he has never done and in fact is dismantling it, something a Repubican couldn’t get away with. ObomberBush is an Economic Hitman as described in his book,“The Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins. ObomberBush has turned this country into a 3rd world model for failure.

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By David J. Cyr, January 14, 2011 at 9:06 am Link to this comment

QUOTE (of the House Negro, Eugene Robinson):

“There are genuine, legitimate disagreements on a host of issues, and some look almost impossible to reconcile.”
____________

Something that’s impossible to reconcile is how all those nice polite civil-tongued people, who so viciously vote to inflict the massive violence of war upon other nations every chance they get, can be so transfixed with the miniature violence of one skinny kid with one gun… in their backyard.

Obama soothed those who have no remorse for the heavily weaponized mass violence that they calmly aim and fire — with their casually cast votes — upon millions of people they obviously consider to be disposable untermensch.

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By madisolation, January 14, 2011 at 8:56 am Link to this comment

“Listening to Obama’s speech brought back memories of Obama the candidate, a mesmerizing orator with the power to summon visions of a better America. He seemed almost to transcend politics.”
I thought this was a memorial service, not a 2012 presidential campaign kick-off speech.
Maybe if Obama would follow by example, by announcing he will no longer violently drop drones on innocents, violently assassinate Americans, attempt to take away our civil liberties at every turn, make every effort to end the war, and quit torturing Bradley Manning, maybe then he can talk of civility. Until then, his rhetoric is, as always, yap..yap..yap..do nothing of signifigance…yap…yap…blah

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By Dennis, January 14, 2011 at 8:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Can we now have a memorial service or services for all the children he has killed in Afpak?

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By Go Right Young Man, January 14, 2011 at 8:27 am Link to this comment

Mr. Robinson could aid in the subject he writes about above by ending his endless nasty tirades against moderates, independents and conservatives in America.

He could begin by clearly denouncing his and others unhinged accusations that all who disagree on policy are doing so out of racist motivations.

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By thebeerdoctor, January 14, 2011 at 8:04 am Link to this comment

How disingenuous does it have to be? I think it was Samuel Clemens who said that a politician is an ass that everyone has sat upon… accept a man.

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By Roemary Molloy, January 14, 2011 at 7:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A genuinely disgusting homage to the murderer-in-chief, who is using the death of a little girl to make political hay.  As for the other little girls in Iraq and Afghanistan, their deaths need not concern him.  Eugene Robinson has been a shill for Obama for some time—shameful for him and reprehensible for Truthdig to permit his blind fawning over anything Obama does.
When will we ever understand:  WORDS ARE MEANINGLESS!  O. has a stable of speech writers who know exactly what emotional buttons to push to persuade the ever-gullible American public that our leaders of people of rectitude—“good and important”—and we must bow before them.
Garbage, pure and simple.

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By drbhelthi, January 14, 2011 at 7:01 am Link to this comment

Obama, the excellent “front” man.

The fatal flaw of Americans:
- placing high value on what politicians say instead of
watching what they have done and continue to do.

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, January 14, 2011 at 6:33 am Link to this comment

DUMBER THAN DUMB

A putrid smell:

A marvelous, Moslem hypocrite!

Nice work ... as far as mindless character assassination goes. Is that how you got the Green Beret?

Twenty-percent of Americans believe that BO is a Muslim. I figure it’s that same 20% who are dumber-than-dumb and so warped as to commit the sort of insane act upon their fellow men and women as in Tucson recently.

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By Lafayette, January 14, 2011 at 6:23 am Link to this comment

GA: ... but one thing is certain I won’t be voting for him.

Then we’ll just have to do without you.

Blinding oneself to the options available, one flawed but intelligent and the other aliens from some other planet, demonstrates numbness as regards civic duty or common sense.

Some people are never satisfied ...

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, January 14, 2011 at 6:16 am Link to this comment

DELIVER THE BACON

The powerful elegy that President Obama delivered in Tucson was a big step toward his long-held goal of transforming the nation’s choleric and dysfunctional political culture. Subsequent steps will be harder—but no longer seem impossible.

Nice, but not nearly enough. America is waiting for him to deliver the bacon.

But, how can he? That same America, in a consummate act of idiocy, put him in the dog-house at the mid-term elections.

See where getting emotional about politics get you? To congressional gridlock in LaLaLand on the Potomac.

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By drbhelthi, January 14, 2011 at 6:02 am Link to this comment

Mister H.B. Obama consistently puts up a good front ! His expertise at making a favorable public impression, while destroying the U.S. behind the scenes is superb. A marvelous, Moslem hypocrite!

If “Jr.” Bush had possessed Obama´s deceptive expertise, the U.S. would be in even worse shape.  But, we remind ourselves that Jr. Bush did not have over twenty years service in the NAZI element of the CIA. Instead, he membershipped in the drug-abuse element of Brownsville, TX, until his “hippie family” was murdered and skinned in 1985. 

“Junior” disappeared for three days during this event, and didn´t remember anything about the three days. 
Right.
“Senior” covered for him with a political STOP of the investigation of the horrific murders and the three day “disappearance.”  Not very typical of Texas justice - - .

If an adled brain showed up in “Junior´s” performance as “u.s. president,” permitting his NAZI/MOSSAD entourage to “free wheel,” or if he simply puppeted as instructed by his seniors?  And 9-11 occurred in 2001, almost one year after Junior´s election?  And the Patriot Act, which has resulted in the murder of millions instead of thousands?

Cocaine abuse sparks such behaviors. Cannabis calms and heals. Obviously not the Bush style.

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By writeon, January 14, 2011 at 4:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

But the call for unity and ‘togetherness’ in a society where the differences in lifestyles between the ‘classes’ have never been greater, where the colossal, yawning, gap between the rich and the poor is approaching the size of Grand Canyon… is strange.

The ideology behind this appeal for ‘respect’ is bizarre and confused. Gross inequality and social corruption, perpetual war, and imperial decline, mass unemployment, the death of the middle class, economic meltdown, socialism for the super-rich compared to the bread-line for the rest; and despite all this Ameicans are supposed to feel ‘togetherness’? This is a cruel fantasy spouted by a detached high-priest desparate to re-connect with his people after a ritual human sacrifice.

These massacres come round time after time, and are seized on as an opportunity to make political capital and grab an advantage over one’s rivals. Is Palin more ‘guilty’ than Obama for pulling violence to the centre of the political stage? Isn’t Obama ordering drone attacks on peasant villages in Pakistan? Isn’t he silent about the hysterical calls for Julian Assange to be assassinated? Hasn’t he ordered the summary execution of an ‘enemy’ US citizen, without due process, in Yemen, or did I just imagine all this?

Can one really be a bloody, imperialist, emperor sending the empire’s legions around the world to secure energy supplies, and at the same time a person who values human lives?

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By G.Anderson, January 14, 2011 at 2:58 am Link to this comment

Turning a memorial for victims of a psychotics rampage, into a pep rally was in poor
taste.

It’s a preview of the 2012 election. As a lifelong Democrat all I can say is that Obama is
starting to make Sarah Palindrome look good. It’s just that bad.

I doubt if I could stomach voting for her, but one thing is certain I won’t be voting for him.

Hopefully Mr. Obamas call for an end to political discord is not the pretext for another
double cross, disguised as bi partisan legislation.

Con artists like Obama always have to be slick smooth talkers cause when it comes
down to it B.S., is all they’ve got. It wii be miracle if this country gets through two more
years of this.

By then the PRC will own Idaho. I hear their building a self contained city their with an
international Airport, for half a million PRC immigrants.

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By skimohawk, January 14, 2011 at 2:28 am Link to this comment

Obama is now seen for what he really is: just another politician in bed with banks and big business. Any credibility he may once have had has been lost. Those of us who had that “hope” and voted for him, in spite of our misgivings, will not do so again.

As far as Mr. Robinson’s statement “civility in our public discourse should not preclude vigorous debate, often in strong language”:
It’s all well and good that Mr. Robinson gives lip service to “vigorous debate”, but the fact is that this Pulitzer-winning writer has done little to directly challenge Obama, the Congress, or the Senate in any effective manner.

Sure, Ghandi finally got what he wanted, but India is still one of the poorest countries on the planet, and over HALF its population has NO ACCESS TO A TOILET.
“Civility” may be fine, but I’d prefer not to have to shit in the street.

Okay, let’s be civil. Let’s even be polite. But if that means acquiescence to the status quo, acceptance of the cesspool of vitriol our public airwaves have become, or tolerance of the duplicitousness of elected officials, count me out.

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By samosamo, January 14, 2011 at 1:53 am Link to this comment

****************


If I am not wrong, I believe the ‘healer’ promised change in his
2008 campaign. His tenure so far has done little in healing what
have been the disasters of the last 40 or 50 years of pathetic
presidents and ‘one-eyed jack congresses( you never see what
the other eye is looking at). And already the ‘other party’ if there
ever really was one other, has publicly declared a war of undoing
everything o has done. Why they would want to do that is
beyond me since he has for the most part carried out
conservative agendas and appointed all the perpetrators and
wrong people to positions that could or would possibly ‘heal’ the
dastardly deeds perpetrated on this country.

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