Smart, but under the circumstances, not surprising.
President Obama will focus his speech at a memorial service in Tucson on Wednesday evening on the victims of the attack and on the idea of service to the country, avoiding any overt commentary on the debate over violence and the nation’s political culture.
Instead, Mr. Obama, who was still working with his speechwriters on his remarks on Tuesday, will call for unity among Americans, while trying to honor the victims, including their service to government, as an example to all Americans. He will share the anecdotes about the victims that he has learned during private phone calls to the families, aides said…
Mr. Obama’s speech in Arizona will mark the third time since taking office two years ago that he will lead the country in mourning after a national tragedy. He eulogized the 13 soldiers who were gunned down in November 2009 at Fort Hood, Tex., and five months later he traveled to West Virginia to remember the lives of the 29 men killed in the nation’s worst coal mining disaster in four decades.
In both cases, the president recounted personal anecdotes about those who lost their lives, even as he tried to draw broader lessons about the tragedy. But he did not, particularly in the case of the Fort Hood speech, directly address an array of haunting questions about the shooter.
He’ll invoke his faith too, says the Times, and remain studiously “above the partisan fray,” which sounds familiar. Last night’s speculation notwithstanding, it’s hard to imagine him using a memorial service, with grieving relatives sitting in the front row, to rip on Rush Limbaugh. (I know, I know: “Wellstone.” They won’t repeat that mistake.) The question now is, will he make the “our political discourse” a major theme of the State of the Union? He’s sure to mention it somehow, but I’m trying to imagine the optics of him going off on the right with Boehner over his shoulder, grimacing all the way. It’ll be too awkward, which means if he’s going to address the politics of this, it’ll have to be in some third, as yet unscheduled address where there’s no one sitting either right in front of him or right behind him to be offended. If you hear any news in the next few days about a surprise White House press conference being penciled in for next week, that’s probably what it is.