This Single Tweet About President Obama's Gun Control Speech Simply Says It All
On Tuesday, amid much anticipation, President Obama delivered a highly charged, emotional address from the East Room of the White House, laying out his planned executive actions on gun control. Over the course of more than 20 minutes, he ran the gamut from restrained and authoritative, to firm and gripped by conviction, to downright emotional. And the latter part has drawn some predictable derision from certain conservative circles. Which is why, perhaps more than anything else, this one tweet summed up Obama's gun control remarks so perfectly.
The emotion was evident throughout the speech, which was delivered with many loved ones of gun violence victims in the room ― Obama was introduced by Mark Barden, who lost a son in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012. While it began as a somewhat typical, gravitas-laden call to action, it soon blossomed into one of the more striking scenes of a commander in chief showing some of their true, rawest feeling, with Obama lifting his hand to wipe tears from his face as he remembered the first-graders of Sandy Hook.
He also reminded the assembled crowd that "it happens on the streets of Chicago every day." The scene was nothing short of striking. But sadly, some of the president's conservative critics didn't give him the benefit of the doubt, even accusing him of faking his tears to win sympathy and political capital. Which is precisely why this tweet by The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza is so salient.
Look, it's easy to get riled up and make the worst possible assumptions about your political opponents. I've done it before, and maybe you have too. And just because President Obama delivered part of his remarks today with fresh tears streaked across his cheek doesn't mean you need to jump headlong into supporting his executive actions on gun control. But please, can't everyone at least allow him his pain?
You could accuse him of hypocrisy if you wanted, sure ― after all, the use of American military force abroad kills a lot of innocent people too, and similar public displays of emotion over so-called "collateral damage" are few and far between. But that doesn't mean that these kinds of moments of grief are necessarily artificial or somehow sinister. If you watch Obama's reactions through the years to the ever-continuing parade of mass shootings, it's pretty plain to see that this isn't a matter of political calculation, or anything so cynical.
Rather, it's a matter of him (like so many Americans) feeling shocked and disgusted with the current status quo. It's not that we should want to see less of this, or be distrustful of it when we do. Rather, this is the kind of evident heartache that i'd be nice to see more frequently, from people all across the globe. Basically, even if you don't agree with Obama's politics, at least give him his sincerity.