Well Said, Mr. President

Today’s New York Times offers an account of President Obama’s visit to Tucson and his address at the University of Arizona. From the Times:

The president directly confronted the political debate that erupted after the rampage, urging people of all beliefs not to use the tragedy to turn on one another. He did not cast blame on Republicans or Democrats, but asked people to “sharpen our instincts for empathy.”


It was one of the more powerful addresses that Mr. Obama has delivered as president, harnessing the emotion generated by the shock and loss from Saturday’s shootings to urge Americans “to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully” and to “remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together.”


“At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized, at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do,” he said, “it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”

And a few paragraphs later, a bit more pointed:

He warned against “simple explanations” and spoke of the unknowability of the thoughts that “lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.” He suggested that the events should force individuals to look inward, but also that they should prompt a collective response against reflexive ideological and social conflict.

Well said, Mr. President. At a time when pundits and journalists across the left are piling on baseless accusations through some line of malicious, twisted logic that Sarah Palin is somehow responsible for the Tucson shooting, Obama is urging Americans to take on a pragmatic, unbiased view of the situation, rather than the frantic finger-pointing that we’ve seen.

The President said it not once, not twice, but repeated this sentiment three times: “But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. That we cannot do. That we cannot do.”

Adam I.W. Schwartzman