In the first days after Obama's speech at the Tucson memorial on Wednesday, a good number of conservative politicians and pundits announced their support for the president's message. Some even wondered if this was a turning point for Obama as he looks ahead to the second half of his presidency. Then, this weekend, Sen. John Mccain, Obama's 2008 opponent, in a Washington Post op/ed, called Obama a "patriot," rejecting "accusations that his policies and beliefs make him unworthy to lead America or opposed to its founding ideals." Despite the seeming cohesion across party lines, some GOP opinion makers expressed opposition to the president's national address. Here, a sampling of this weekend's strongest arguments against Obama's speech:
He joined the faulty political rhetoric debate...: "By the time Obama spoke," says Byron York in the Washington Examiner, we knew Jared Loughner "was deeply mentally ill and acted out of no recognizable political agenda." Still, the president argued that political rhetoric "should be muted anyway," he announced that this was a "proper starting point for a national debate about civility in politics," even though the evidence didn't show a connection. Moreover, he pointed to young Christine Green as someone who "would have wanted us to tone down the rhetoric. Don't be confused about what the real message was here.
...at the wrong time: In an "excellent speech," Obama "appealed to the nation to cool down and stop the nonsense," says Bill O'Reilly in the Boston Herald. "Unfortunately, his words came too late." As Obama preaches civility, "the problem is that some of the president's most ardent supporters are responsible for the current madness." Although "robust debate can be a very good thing if facts are used to illuminate harmful situations," we should take issue with the president "using death to fan speculative defamation." The message is right - to "stop hurting each other with irresponsible words" - but the timing is all wrong.
He lost control of the crowd: "I didn't much care for the speech," says Kyle Smith in the New York Post. The audience set the wrong tone. "If Obama were skilled at thinking on his feet, he would have strayed from his prepared remarks and admonished the audience" for its inappropriate behavior. They probably "chose to hold the event in front of students because they knew that collegians are one of his most loyal constituencies so he'd be guaranteed a warm welcome." But this was too much. They acted like the "world's biggest celebrity" was on hand. While "trying to create an atmosphere that would goose the approval ratings of their hero," they "turned the president into Taylor Swift, and nobody remembers anything Taylor Swift said."