He had two audiences today, the country and his base (there’s an election four months from now, you know), so he delivered two speeches. The first was an acknowledgment that America is less divided than it seems, that considerable racial progress has been made in his lifetime, and that the police are often convenient scapegoats for the country’s social ills:

“Your work, the work of police officers across the country, is like no other,” Obama said to a crowd filled with law enforcement officers from across the state and beyond. “From the moment you put on that uniform, you have answered a call that at any moment, even in the briefest interaction, may put your life in harm’s way.”…

Obama echoed what the Dallas police chief said a day earlier about officers being asked to take on too much, saying that too great a burden is placed on police departments.

“We tell them to keep those neighborhoods in check at all costs and do so without causing any political blowback or inconvenience,” he said. “‘Don’t make a mistake that might disturb our own piece of mind,’ and then we feign surprise when periodically the tensions boil over.”

The second half was his usual gun-control shtick, capped by the instantly infamous bit of propaganda below. It’s easier to buy a gun than a book? Not if you’re buying legally. If you’re buying from a federally licensed dealer, as most people do, you need to pass a background check. What Obama means, I assume, is that in poor neighborhoods with higher crime, illegal guns may be easier to come by than books. He’s trying to make a point, I think, about the murder rates in places like his hometown of Chicago, not an overarching statement about the general availability of guns everywhere, but that’s not how it came out. Result: A lot of rolled eyes on social media for a speech that seemed at first like it was going to rise to the occasion. Charles Cooke:

This, remember, was a funeral — a funeral for one of the police officers who was murdered last Thursday. It wasn’t a rally. It wasn’t a White House press conference. It wasn’t a public statement, hastily arranged on the airport tarmac. It was a funeral. Presumably, those attending had all sorts of political opinions. Presumably, some of the cops were Republicans. Presumably, there was some serious disagreement in that room as to how the country should move forward. Wouldn’t it have been better to wait until the proceedings were over to call for change? Wouldn’t it have been more politically effective for the president to have made his push somewhere else?

One of his Chicago friends, Rahm Emanuel, articulated Obama’s philosophy towards moments like this early in his presidency. America’s facing a crisis; it’d be a shame to let it go to waste by not … alienating half the audience and achieving nothing legislatively in the process.

Here’s O’s comment, plus a bit from a guy who did rise to the occasion.