Opinion Brief

Obama's Tucson speech: A presidential turning point?

President Obama's words honoring the Arizona shooting victims met with nearly universal approval. Will that help restore his power to lead?

In a rare moment of agreement, pundits and politicians across the political spectrum have praised the speech President Obama delivered at a service honoring the Arizona shooting victims. Even those who've clashed with Obama over the past two years said his message was just what the nation needed to hear. "This was above partisanship," said Ed Rollins, a Republican political consultant in The Wall Street Journal, "which is a good place for a president to be." Will the speech's positive effects help Obama reach across party lines, or fade all too quickly? (Watch a CBS discussion about Obama's speech)

This was a "turning point" for the president: The speech was a "defining moment" for Obama's presidency, says Steven Thomma at McClatchy Newspapers. It allowed him "a new chance to connect with the American people." By winning over even his "most vocal critics" — even Fox News host Glenn Beck approved — Obama has "recaptured" the appeal that got him elected, "the sense that the country is a family that yearns to be united, not divided.""With Obama's Tucson speech, his presidency turns a corner"

The speech will fade unless Obama changes: Obama's Tucson eulogy did "as much as a speech can do," says Rick Richman in Commentary. "His challenge to fulfill the expectations" of Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year-old who died waiting to meet her congresswoman, "will be a lasting contribution to presidential rhetoric." But Obama is the one who tainted the first two years of his presidency by referring to opponents as "enemies" and "hostage takers." Unless he heeds his own Tucson message, it won't have much lasting impact."Was Obama's speech his finest hour?"

Obama's reelection is now more secure: Obama's pitch-perfect speech enhanced his chances of keeping the White House "to a significant degree," says David Remnick in The New Yorker. Like Ronald Reagan after the Challenger disaster and Bill Clinton after the Oklahoma City bombing, Obama "clearly made the people in the room feel the embrace of the nation." Detractors have always dismissed Obama's talk of civility as "misty-eyed idealism, cynical performance art, or above-the-fray haughtiness." They'll have trouble making that argument now."Obama's speech"

Republicans need to adjust, but press on: Delaying the vote, says Major Garrett in National Journal, would only give the would-be assassin influence he doesn't deserve, and signal "a sense of drift and lack of purpose on the part of an energized majority that opposes Obama on a number of policy fronts." But there's no denying the "ground has shifted," and Republican leaders must adjust. "Much of their success in the 112th Congress may turn on perceptions of their tone, tenacity, and tendencies in next week's debate.""The show must go on, if just for show"

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