NYT on Obama’s speech: Thank goodness he spoke out against this week’s rhetorical ugliness — especially Palin’s

Before this week, I would have chalked this up to simple dishonesty. They know perfectly well who he meant last night when he talked about “pointing fingers or assigning blame” in a way that “wounds,” I’d have said, but they’re such miserable shills for their liberal readership that they feel obliged to cocoon them from the truth.

But after four days of voodoo and magical thinking? I don’t know. If the left can hallucinate a right-wing motive for Jared Loughner, why couldn’t the Times hallucinate an entirely different subtext for a speech?

Mr. Obama called on ideological campaigners to stop vilifying their opponents. The only way to move forward after such a tragedy, he said, is to cast aside “point-scoring and pettiness.” He rightly focused primarily on the lives of those who died and the heroism of those who tried to stop the shooter and save the victims. He urged prayers for the 14 wounded, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the target of the rampage. Their stories needed to be told, their lives celebrated and mourned.

It was important that Mr. Obama transcend the debate about whose partisanship has been excessive and whose words have sown the most division and dread. This page and many others have identified those voices and called on them to stop demonizing their political opponents. The president’s role in Tucson was to comfort and honor, and instill hope…

The president’s words were an important contrast to the ugliness that continues to swirl in some parts of the country. The accusation by Sarah Palin that “journalists and pundits” had committed a “blood libel” when they raised questions about overheated rhetoric was especially disturbing, given the grave meaning of that phrase in the history of the Jewish people.

Not only is not a single word breathed here about the left’s demagoguery, but lest you doubt who they have in mind when they refer to “voices” that demonize, revisit their editorial from the day after the shooting. That’s not the end of the dishonesty, either: As of this morning, in quoting Obama’s now famous passage about whether a lack of civility was responsible for the shootings, the editorial actually omitted the part where he emphatically said “it did not” — the narrative-killing moment. Follow the link above and you’ll see that they’ve now very quietly inserted it into the text, after Verum Serum caught the omission and started calling attention to it. If their defense is that they were working off his prepared remarks, which didn’t include the “it did not” ad lib, well, so was I, but there was enough buzz about that line afterwards that I managed to flag it in time for our post. What’s the Paper of Record’s excuse?

Like many of our readers, Ace is frustrated that The One didn’t call out the left by name last night because it allows apologists like the Times editorial board to engage in precisely this sort of absurd spin. I sympathize with that point, but realistically, he can’t call his own base jackasses. In fact, he could have been much vaguer than he was, sticking to hazy pleading about avoiding “demonization” instead of referring specifically to finger-pointing over the cause of the shootings, which, after all, has only been coming from one side. Look at it this way: If O’s performance was as bad as all that, would Glenn Beck be praising him today “for becoming the president of the United States of America last night”?