Last night in Tucson, President Obama called the nation to something higher:
At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized, and a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do, it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we're talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.
This morning, we're already struggling to get there. Folks are irritated about the Tucson event's T-shirts and the "Together We Thrive" message -- messaging, really. Folks are irritated by the way the crowd cheered in a time of mourning. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) says Democrats are trying to "manufacture" controversy for political advantage.
It's not so much that any one of those expressions is wounding, so much as they're still in the weeds, still missing the big picture. Six people died, more than a dozen others were wounded, gun violence continues, we're still not reaching mentally disturbed people in time. Now we have to argue out the solutions. These are political problems that need fixing in the political arena, whether your side's position looks strong or weak going in.
The good news, I guess, is that we are struggling. It's so much better than giving in or giving up or walking away. As the Reverend Welton Gaddy said on the show last night about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, "Given what she's been through, if she opened her eyes, maybe we can, too."
Video of President Obama's speech, after the jump.
(Image from outside the hospital in Tucson by Kelly Richardson.)