As the memorial service in Tucson concludes, some early reactions to the president's speech.
1. He has canned the teleprompters (at least there were none in sight). TOTUS, like many in the president's inner circle recently, has been replaced -- this time with good ol' fashioned notes.
2. I can't shake the nagging feeling that the speech felt more like a campaign stop than a national address. The frequent shouting, cheering, whistling, whooping, and clapping were reminiscent of the 2008 campaign. Much of the cheering seemed out of place for a somber event. Some of the outbursts, however, were more odd than others.
3. The trend we've pointed out on this site of Obama's increasing biblical references seemed to continue. I think it is safe to say they are on the rise. Another hint that the campaign is around the corner.
4. Because this speech had a more obvious campaign feel, Obama seemed to thrive. His speeches of late -- and since he took office -- have been flat and uninspiring. But something seems to happen when he gets in front of an adoring crowd -- he soaks up the energy and converts it into poise, demanding captivation.
5. I'm not sold on his comments about public discourse. He is right to say that a lack of civil discourse did not "cause" this tragedy, but in doing so he did say our dialogue has become uncivil. If he means both the right and the left are at fault, I might be able to buy it. But if his reference is meant to jive with the prevailing media sentiment that only the right is at fault, then I can't disagree more.
Additionally, as we have detailed, left-wing politicians and pundits bear a significant amount of responsibility for "vitriol" and "violent rhetoric."
6. Two of the most touching moments of the night were Michelle Obama emotionally clinging to Giffords's husband Mark Kelly while the president spoke of Gabby's recovery, and Barack Obama becoming emotional while discussing nine-year-old Christian Taylor Green splashing in Heaven's rain puddles. Very touching.
In general, I think the speech was successful. I also think it was a warm-up. While touching, it seemed more like "campaign Obama" than "president Obama." Maybe that's not a bad thing: it may have helped him connect with the American people. After all, it was the rousing campaign speeches that won him votes and put him in office.
Get ready to see more of this.