Once again, Barack Obama is reaching “above his pay grade.” He traveled on Sunday evening to a prayer vigil in Newtown, Conn., where he invoked religion (“God has called them all home”) and spoke of healing.
Summoning up his well-honed gift for oratory, he told those assembled that “words are not enough.” He’s right. Words at a moment like this fail because they are cheap. Actions are needed.
But whose actions? During his remarks, Obama delivered what sounded like the first shot in the next battle of a presidency characterized to date by non-stop skirmishes.
Promising to use “whatever power this office holds” to safeguard the nation’s children, he observed:
We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard?
This is vintage Obama. He starts typically with a straw man argument. No one is asking or expecting that events like the shootings at Sandy Hook be treated as routine or normal. In point of fact, they are not routine. They are aberrations that are blessedly rare, if not rare as we all might prefer. Yet perspective is needed if we are to proceed to a reasonable dialog on how to lessen such tragedies.
The second part of his statement — which provides a segue into a call for change — asks rhetorically whether we are ready to concede we can’t prevent future acts of carnage. Whether we can in fact control violence remains to be seen. Again, however, he skunks his own argument by invoking the holy name of politics. Which is where all roads lead this leader.
It matters not that the bottom line in this particular debate will be over the Second Amendment. What will be paramount is the manner in which Obama conducts himself in battle.
In the past he has been bellicose and hurled insults at those who share a view that differs from his own. He has surrounded himself by sympathizers and taken cowardly digs at “the enemy,” often mediated by sarcasm. Apart from being unpresidential, such posturing is unhelpful.
If Obama is going to lead, much less participate, in the conversation about remedies against future Sandy Hooks, he needs to do so dispassionately and with an open mind. Smart money says he lacks the ability to do either.
Howard Portnoy has written for HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, and The George Espenlaub Show.
More by Howard Portnoy
Don't miss out. Send us your email address, and we'll make sure you don't miss a thing.