Patterico's Pontifications


Obama Didn’t Denounce Leftists Appropriately, Says . . . Kirsten Powers

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:32 pm

Alternate title: “In Which I Reconcile with Stacy McCain.” Be warned: this post has a bit of a rambling style. I told you: I’ve been reading a lot of Ace lately.

Anyway: leave it to KP to recognize the weakness of Obama’s speech last night. Allahpundit, Ed Morrissey, Rich Lowry, Gabe and Drew at Ace’s, Baldilocks, John Nolte, and about a million other conservatives said last night that they thought Obama had somehow denounced the leftists’ “Blame Palin” campaign of lies. Like me (and Ace, and Stacy McCain, and Rush Limbaugh, and Tammy Bruce, and a seemingly small handful of others), Ms. Powers begs to differ:

He did add to his prepared remarks that incivility did not cause this tragedy, but he stopped short of a full rebuke of the complete irresponsibility of those who have been stoking anger at conservatives who—as far as we know—had nothing to do with this.

When the president did lay blame, it was on Americans in general. Among the many odd assertions he made: suggesting that “what a tragedy like this requires” is that “we align our values with our actions.” We were told to “expand our moral imaginations.”


A mentally ill gunman opened fire at a Safeway. A lack of “aligning” or “imagination” really wasn’t the problem. Obama chided Americans to “be better,” as if we somehow caused this shooting to happen.

As I argued earlier, if we’re going to give Obama credit for denouncing the lies, he should first earn our praise by, you know, actually denouncing the lies. Because — and now I’m speaking to all you conservatives who thought Obama was extra tough on the left — I don’t think the left interpreted his words the way you think he did. For example: the New York Times ran an editorial today basically saying, Obama said we should all be civil, and good thing he said that, because that Sarah Palin sure isn’t civil, is she?

Here is the icing on the cake. Remember that the Big Indication that Obama was supposedly denouncing the leftists? Yeah, it was that ad-libbed line that you see in brackets below:

And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy [– it did not –] but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud.

Now, I have been shouting to anyone who will listen that this was very far from a rebuke. But I was assured that these three words had a huge impact on the left, because it was a direct slap to their faces.

Here’s where the Rorschach inkblot comes in, I guess. Because what are we to make of the fact that the New York Times simply left those words out of their editorial?

I heard some conservatives saying it was to hide the rebuke from readers’ view. Yeah, maybe — if you’re inclined to see it as a big rebuke.

Me, I will point out that their quote was lazily taken from the prepared text. (Remember: the Big Three Words were an ad lib.) And I think that, rather than being devious, the editors just . . . hadn’t noticed the ad lib.

See, the point of the conservatives was to say: Wow! When he said “it did not” he sure stuck it to the New York Times!! And I think that those three words had such a huge impact on the New York Times that they . . . forgot he said them.

Which is not to say that they weren’t devious after the omission was noticed. When Ace and a few others went nuts, they snuck the three words back in. (Without a word of acknowledgement, as you do with a significant and embarrassing correction, when you’re a major newspaper and you think we’re all too dumb to notice.)

But the point is: those three words meant nothing to them.

As Ace says:

Those on the right who liked the speech are praising Obama for making these statements which, if you read them carefully enough, seem to caution the left about tearing itself into a red frenzy over this.

Those of us who like the speech less don’t like it because the speech was elliptical enough, vague enough, ambiguous enough that the New York Times could miss the point if they tried hard enough, which in fact they did.

Look, I already said this. When you say a “simple lack of civility” didn’t cause the shooting, the Boehlerts say: right! Evil right-wing rhetoric did! And Obama left that interpretation wide open.

This is why KP says Obama’s so-called rebuke was anything but.

If you’re going to denounce something, denounce it. And if you just can’t do it because, hey, you can’t offend your base, then fine, whatever . . . but why should conservatives give you credit for a Sister Souljah moment that never happened?

That is what continues to frustrate me no end about this speech — and it takes a leftist like KP to articulate it?

Thankfully, there is a small handful of us who are so pissed about the last few days that we are banding together, and saying hell no, we’re not moderating our rhetoric. If anything, this episode has made me far more strident — because I know that’s the opposite of what the liars want.

And somehow, I don’t feel like acceding to the liars’ demands. I’m funny that way.

Stacy McCain and I actually bonded over this on Twitter. (Yeah, I’m on Twitter! Follow me here.) I observed to him that, like him, there was no way I was going to engage in a “new tone” — and I noted that the lying leftists have managed to achieve a certain UNITY!!! among some of us conservatives that I never thought I’d see. I said: “There is something about having a common enemy that draws people together.” McCain responded:

rsmccain @Patterico Good time as any to let bygones be bygones. Now let’s kick some liberals to the curb.

I agreed. And as far as I am concerned, the bygones are indeed bygones. Because what Stacy said is about how I feel at this point. It’s time to stick these lying Krugmans and Koses in a trash can, head down, with their faces ground into the rotting fish heads and their feet flailing in the air, and take them out to the curb — because, after the last few days, it’s looking like trash day, and I hear the truck coming down the street.

No, no: don’t put them in the recyclables container. I want them gone from our public discourse for good.

As a caller observed to Rush Limbaugh today, “civility” is basically the left’s code word for “censorship.” If those are the terms of civility, I’ll pass.

Again: nothing unites like a common enemy. Hell, I’m even enjoying listening to Mark Levin again!

But, you know, I can find common ground with a lefty like KP — as long as she’s willing to agree with me about what a weasel Obama was last night.


38 Responses to “Obama Didn’t Denounce Leftists Appropriately, Says . . . Kirsten Powers”

  1. For what it’s worth, I’m still all in favor of civil discussion — under the right circumstances. As I said to McCain:

    I actually believe in civil dialogue, with honest people. I will not have it forced down my throat by liars.

    There are good lefties who post here, and at least one of them said he has been avoiding the posts on this topic. I think that’s a shame, because there is NOTHING inconsistent with my rage at the liars and my oft-stated desire to have a civil dialogue with people on the left whom I respect. I am simply losing patience quicker with the liars, that’s all.

    But, to answer one of the annoying lefties who pesters me about this and that: no, I don’t agree with those who want to paint everyone on the left as being “deranged.”

    But the Krugmans of the world may blow me.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  2. You’ve got that healin’ feelin’.

    Mournapalooza worked!

    daleyrocks (e7bc4f)

  3. This reminds me of the media dog pile on George Bush after Katrina. It made me sick and I am as sick of this relentless attack of conservatives after the shooting.

    There is no meeting the left half way on any issue.

    This post is very accurate.

    Arizona Bob (e8af2b)

  4. Why does it take Kirsten to point this out, because deep down, even the leading pundits of the center right, don’t want to consider that a nationak leader could be so crass, in the aftermath of such a monstrous crisis, sadly it is very much so, and it will be born out in time. Rhetorically, that we don’t yet know
    what motivated Laughner, just screams insincerity, and keeps the defamation machine going.

    narciso (6075d0)

  5. I saw the speech in two parts–got busy with something and watched the second half later. The first half was good and I gave him an A. Wow, he’s changed! How can we beat the new O in 12?

    Then I listened to the second half, the one KP talks about, and I too was disgusted. He always has to start with that “We can be better” crap. WE didn’t do anything. WE are a great country. WE should be arguing: the future of our nation is at stake.

    Oh, and repeal Obamacare pronto. BEFORE the SOTU.

    Patricia (3aa1fd)

  6. Obama’s response was not commensurate to the crime.

    The crime may be endangering Sarah Palin’s life.

    There is a difference between engaging in standard and innocent political rhetoric that assholes can twist into a threat, and engaging in a pattern of distortion and lies to cause people to believe that a controversial figure is responsible for a murder.

    If Sarah Palin is shot by someone enraged over this shooting, the Krugmans will indeed bear responsibility. Not primary responsibility — but some.

    You can’t compare strident truth to strident lies. They are not the same.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  7. Oh, and repeal Obamacare pronto. BEFORE the SOTU.

    We can’t do that, Patricia. We have been informed by our Betters that to do so would be divisive. The GOP cannot risk this, in these times of a call for a new civility — as marked by Krugman’s latest column and the constant bullshit that we continue to see.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  8. Dog whistle politics indeed, except his message was aimed at us.

    I have a theory that Obama has a lot more coming in this “Together we Thrive” campaign, meaning they are heavily invested in it. Within a reasonable amount of time the Right will wake up from the Spell of the Obama Speech and realize it’s all just crass politics. How better to kick off reelection than with national tragedy? Obama for America!

    alwaysfiredup (23de9f)

  9. I have felt that I am living in Bizarro World these last few days. Thank goodness for Ace and Patterico who echo my sentiments exactly and make me realise I am not alone in my thoughts.

    Gazzer (1b7d21)

  10. Does the “Together we Thrive” campaign mean Obama is going to forget the cars in the ditches and the Slurpees? I’m not.

    daleyrocks (e7bc4f)

  11. Mournapalooza did indeed have a great effect, but the amazing array of mendacity of Krugman and Kos had a far larger effect.

    It is time for all of us to come together. All of us conservatives, that is. To bury fucking Obama and the people he failed to properly denounce.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  12. Bury Obama? Good luck. Whose going to beat him? Huckhoolio? failin’ Palin? The Mormon Romnoid?

    Obama’s approval is on the plus side and we haven’t even seen he spike from his speech yet.

    Ren (ae4d0b)

  13. Of course the left didn’t see this as a rebuke of their rhetoric. They think the President only called the right on its “irresponsible” rhetoric. Here’s democratic congressman Kieth Ellison quoted at the Huffington post:

    “I think that the president’s message is going to prevail,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) told the Bill Press Show on Thursday. “In fact I think Sarah Palin may be looking at the end of her political ride. I think she may be at the end of her ride right now. If Sarah Palin would have said ‘you know what, I probably have been responsible for overblown rhetoric and I’m going to watch myself,’ that would be different. But she is completely unrepentant. And the enormity of this tragedy, I think, put a very, very clear damper on her prospects. And her reaction even dampers her political ride more.”

    Got that? It is now inflammatory for those on the right to deny the false charges made by the left. As far as Ellison is concerned that is President’s message. That’s what he heard, as Patterico and Ace have so accurately observed.

    And by being “unrepentant” Palin is out of step with the new tone.

    There is no way to be civil with this bottom-feeding scum on the left. Read the post about how the NYT lies, including the quote from Krugman where he argues against a strawman of his own making rather than what his opponents actually say.

    This is a standard technique the press uses to discredit the right, by the way, and Obama is a past master at it as well. He deliberately mischaracterizes what his opponents say or propose to do in order to present his preferred policy as the only reasonable alternative, and then go on to say something like, “some say we can do nothing. I say the American people deserve better than that.”

    The left believes there’s nothing they do is “uncivil.” Only the right isn’t “civil.” And now it’s not “civil” to agree with their mischaracterizations, false charges, and outright lies. When with either no or at most fabricated evidence they charge you with being a racist, homophobe, misogynist, war criminal, nazi, and now accessory to murder who wants to see old folks dead and get rich raping the planet and denying sick people treatment even though they payed their premiums, now it’s “uncivil” to be “unrepentant.”

    I think it’s important to note Americans are mostly not buying whate Ellison and his ilk are selling. It’s obvious that the left attempted to use an actual assassination attempt to commit political character assassination.

    The beautiful thing is that Ellison is not only tone-deaf and stupid enough to think it’s working when it isn’t, but to gloat about it in public.

    I think most Americans didn’t parse the President’s words so very carefully. They, like many on the right, thought they heard a non-partisan call to civility. We know better, yes. And people like Ellison and those at the NYT are hell bent on making sure soon that fact is obvious to everyone.

    So they’re lying scum, but at least they seem to want to serve their country as stupid and useful lying scum.

    Steve (c14b69)

  14. “Obama’s approval is on the plus side and we haven’t even seen he spike from his speech yet.

    Comment by Ren — 1/14/2011 @ 12:18 am”

    There won’t be one. Hardly anyone saw it and nonpoliticos won’t bother to read it. Dollars to donuts he gets nothing.

    alwaysfiredup (23de9f)

  15. People who believe in “dog whistle” messages “hidden” in otherwise standard political statements need to check themselves into a mental hospital before they go Loughner on someone.

    Brian Epps (fa1849)

  16. somebody needs to remind the First Bull5hit artist what PJ had to say about schise like this “we can all be better”

    America wasn’t founded so that we could all be better. America was founded so we could all be anything we damned well pleased.
    P. J. O’Rourke

    and i’m pleased to be a bitter, clingy, gun toting, beer drinking, bbq eating conservative with absolutely NO interest in “civility” with the various liberal idiots i run across in day to day life, at least as it comes to politics.

    they are full of shit and i’m not going to mince words on the subject.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  17. It is time for all of us to come together. All of us conservatives, that is. To bury fucking Obama and the people he failed to properly denounce.

    because it deserves to be seen all alone in it’s splendiferous glory.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  18. Whose going to beat him?

    Better question – who is going to vote for him?

    Sara (Pal2Pal) (4d3f49)

  19. I are in total agrement with you and Powers! Us tea-partiers has been smired, and the upity guy just talken with his ace! We won’t will be not fouled by that liberral sanktimonus retorics again! They’re try to bring Palin down under, but we won’t will let that happens!

    The Anonymous Tea-Partier (0692b1)

  20. I agree with ace and other’s that think the speech was not very good. I shall take it a step further. The speech was bad for several reasons. To me substance and context are extremely important in evaluating a speech.

    How can one say incivility did not cause the problem and them call for more civil intercourse?

    When will he display this civility?

    Will he now abandon his hyprocracy, rudness and classlessness? vis. reaction to Gates incident, “cling to their guns and religion”, shutting out the Republicans in virtually all legislation discussion, “I won” etc, etc.

    Joe Perugini (581f38)

  21. I know I”ma little late to the party on this one, but it occurred to me during Mournapalooza (great line, btw), that had the Loughner Left not immediately went to DefCon 4 before the blood even dried, teh iWon’s speech would more likely than not clocked in at half of what we heard.

    We also, no doubt, wouldn’t have also been obliged to be spoken to like a bunch of petulant children.

    HollywoodNeoCon (fd42ae)

  22. Keep coming back to basic facts; this atrocity was the work of one drug-addled loon. So talking about “civility” is nonsense. No rhetoric led him to this. There is zero proof he heard anything for Palin or anyone else. “Civility” means they want us to shut up and go along with socialism.

    I still think that Obama added the bit about Gabby opening her eyes in his presence is really crap. How was that not in the prepared text? HE MADE IT UP, and he did so to give him back his 2008 halo. It’s disgraceful no one will call him on this lie. He should eat on a “Together We Thrive” t-shirt instead.

    And trying to again turn every policy discussion into “it’s for the children” is a leftist tactic that has to be stopped. Christina Greene’s murder was tragically awful. But that does not mean we conform policy to the supposed ideal of a small child, and that ideal invariably involves more socialism. To allow that nonsense trope to go unanswered and unopposed is somewhere between cynicism and insanity.

    Bugg (9e308e)

  23. Virtually the only blogs i read are this and PowerLine (which I haven’t looked at in months) so I don’t know KP or how important her opinion is, but it’s good to know that there are people besides us here at PP who realize, as one person wrote yesterday, that he “appeared to be above the fray while being in the middle of it”.

    The obvious truth that he could have said was, “This was the tragic act of one delusional and irrational person, [who had contemplated something like this for several years”- if he really wanted to be pointed]. But we know he didn’t do that.

    I know no better definition of “civil discourse” than “speaking the truth in love” and “speaking to benefit those who hear”, which can include calling people “a brood of vipers” and saying you’re in danger of going to hell when appropriate.

    Love does not necessarily mean “being nice”. If someone is being a wicked dishonest weasel, it would be in that person’s best interest to know it and change. We can’t make someone change, but we don’t need to back away from the truth, either.
    Not to mention helping those who are deceived see the truth. Of course we sometimes take pleasure in pointing out the truth for the sake of our own egos, but that is not included in the definition above.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  24. That bit about Rep. Giffords opening her eyes after Obama visited her is rather self-centered. Does Obama have biblical healing powers? But clearlyh we have a president that thinks it’s all about him. The fact of the matter was that there were reports that this was not true.

    Arizona Bob (e8af2b)

  25. I don’t know how much Obama should have said about Loughner being deranged. He already fucked the case up by apparently misstating why Roll was there. Giving Loughner more ammo for an insanity defense would have been even worse.

    Patterico (1b0bdd)

  26. _________________________________________

    if we’re going to give Obama credit for denouncing the lies

    Based on his history, he has no credibility. When it comes to such matters, he’s about as sincere as a used-car salesman—or trial lawyer. However, I know his inner self — the real person, the person revealing all — would be manifested if he proclaimed: “America, your chickens are coming home to roost!! Payback is a beyootch! You bring a knife, I’ll bring a gun!”

    Mark (411533)

  27. P- I heard that Arizona does not allow innocent by reason of insanity, but rather “guilty but insane”, which means an extended time of forced institutionalization instead of imprisonment, which is most likely appropriate for this person. But your point in general reminds us you are the legal eagle and I’m in the stands.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  28. Obama’s speech was not received with such enthusiasm just because of a couple of words he said. The real reason some people liked it so much was because of what he DIDN’T say.

    Obama gave a speech and did not say that Republicans were guilty of mass murder.

    And that is actually considered a wonderful thing. Reaching across the aisle. Bipartisanship. Statesmanship. Maturity!

    Behavior from the Democrats has been so bad for so long that the bar is set pretty low. “He didn’t call us mass murderers! I think he loves us!”

    Gesundheit (cfa313)

  29. Great post Pat,
    I agree completely with you; they are who we thought they were. I too am looking for solidarity on the right. And I’m stunned that so many in the august conservative punditocracy were taken in by Obama’s good cop-bad cop act at what I percieved to be the first Democratic campaign rally of the 2012 election. 3 simple ad-libbed words didn’t get it; especially if, as you noted, the one who they were directed at didn’t get the message!

    Perhaps they were warned in advance to expect it, and remember that they were-JUST WORDS!

    I also still wish that Jeff and yourself could bury the hatchet.

    Keep up the good work.

    Bob Reed (5f2db5)

  30. The speech was all about how we are screwed up and he is the one who can show us the way, if we only get civil and take no hostages.

    Yes. It was all about Obama … again.

    Neo (03e5c2)

  31. Neo, the more I think about it, the more clear it is that Obama was not doing a good job distinguishing between the American people and this tragedy. Nothing we did in our discourse is to blame for this psycho. I honestly can’t say if Obama knows that.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  32. Great post, Patterico! I’m in complete agreement; although, I must admit that I did not listen to Obama’s speech. I can barely tolerate listening to him at all. From day one, every time I’ve ever seen him, a little (uh, NON-psychotic :) “voice” has screamed in my (totally sane, rational and decidedly NON-violent* :) mind, one word: PHONY!

    There is only one possible response that a true leader (who is genuinely concerned about doing what is right) could have given, and that would have been to have forcefully and repeatedly denounce the vicious lies, vile hate and BLOOD-LIBEL that have been hurled at the Right (and Palin, in particular) ever since this awful and evil crime was committed. Anything less is pusillanimous at best, and playing politics, at worst.

    Having said that, I must also very much thank Kirsten Powers for doing the right thing here. I just hope that she isn’t trashed, for having criticized The One, by the same despicable people as the “press” have come to know and then ignore. Thank you, Kirsten.

    * – I’m currently going through an intensive therapy program to deal with issues related to my “aggressive” use of “bullet” points and “slash” marks in past correspondence. Please keep me in your prayers. I’m feeling much better now. =/

    munchnstuf (65089d)

  33. “I’m even enjoying listening to Mark Levin again!”

    I’m glad because a sizable portion of the other side equates political criticism to shouting fire in a theatre when they’re in power. Right side unity is required to keep them from getting to 50+1. As we saw in HCR, that’s all it will take.

    East Bay Jay (2fd7f7)

  34. To AZ Bob, Patricia, redc1c4, TAT-P, and our Host:
    Well Said!

    We are living in Interesting Times.

    AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92)

  35. But who can prove that “hateful rhetoric” affects anybody to do anything.

    Think back to a church in Chicago whose pastor, Jeremiah Wright, screamed out things like “God Damn America.” A certain parishioner of 20 years, we were told, was totally unaffected.

    Hmmm … maybe I’m wrong about that part.

    Neo (03e5c2)

  36. I said: “There is something about having a common enemy that draws people together.”

    A wonderful benefit of our overheated climate of incivility. Whoda thunk!

    Why does it take Kirsten to point this out…?

    Why does it take Kirsten Powers to point out this or the hypocritical hate of the Democratic leadership and the media? We have a GOP leadership that should have been leading the way and pounding this home – with fierce relentlessness – from Day One. Where were they?

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  37. All obama statements have a near term expiration date. How many times in the last two years has he said “i am going to focus like laser on jobs” yet he comes up with more job killing policys every week.

    dunce (b89258)

  38. “…Where were they?…”

    They were waiting for the results from the latest focus group – mustn’t offend anyone.

    AD-RtR/OS! (f92726)

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