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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Soundbites: Jan. 12

President Obama’s defining moment

In times of great crisis, Americans look to their elected officials for inspiration and strength. The president is expected to demonstrate such leadership.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt rallied the nation in his address to Congress, ensuring the American people that the United States would triumph in the face of adversity. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush inspired the world over with his tenacity and resolve.

Since President Barack Obama has taken office, the political climate in America has grown increasingly unstable, culminating in the first political assassination attempt on a U.S. lawmaker in 30 years. America hasn’t seen such internal dissension since the height of the civil rights movement.

Regardless of whether Saturday’s tragedy was politically motivated, the inflammatory political rhetoric in this country must be dampened. Rhetoric that goes beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse not only impedes the democratic process but can have deadly consequences. Unfortunately, six Americans had to lose their lives in order for us to come to this realization.

President Obama must rise to the occasion and lead our nation during these troubling times. This is an opportunity for him to unite a country that has torn itself apart.

At today’s memorial service, the president’s address to Tucsonans and the nation at large will not only be the defining moment of his presidency but could mark a turning point in American politics.

— Nyles Kendall is a political science junior.

President’s speech could shape national dialogue

Shortly after the news of Saturday’s tragic events made its way around the country and into the living rooms of people around the world, certain figures were quick to turn the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and 19 other people into an opportunity to speak out against the damaging rhetoric coming out of politicians and pundits on both sides of the system. As a result, the firebrands on the right are on the defensive and the far left is unrelenting in its criticism, as if Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin were somehow personally responsible. It seems as if national attention is now focused on who to blame for the tragedy than the actual event itself. This is where President Barack Obama has a huge opportunity in his speech tonight on campus.  

Obama can help shape the national dialogue by bringing the attention back to the facts of Saturday’s horrific event. He must refrain from speculating on the political motives of the attacker, or attacking the strong language coming from political pundits, as such a statement would only divide the country further. He has an opportunity to bring the country together, not by calling out certain over-the-top statements of the past, but by reminding people of the terrible tragedy that occurred and the massive show of support coming from all Tucsonans, regardless of political affiliation. The debate that has ensued over the past few days has had a divisive effect on the country, but tonight Obama has the ability to restore the feelings of unity felt directly after Saturday’s terrifying and shocking occurrences.

— Andrew Shepherd is a political science senior.

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