I am completely done with the president's need to constantly beat us over the head with his narrative-furthering talking points. Frankly, that's been the case for quite some time. My frustration with this habit, however, rose to new heights with his remarks in Dallas at the funeral for the five police officers.
Without question, he needed to be there and speak. He's the President of the United States, the duly-elected leader and it was perfectly appropriate for him to be there to honor the dead police officers on the heels of such a monstrous display of evil and hate. It would have been inappropriate for him to NOT have been there.
When he first started to speak, I was very pleased with what he was saying.
These lines were great:
We’re here to honor the memory and mourn the loss of five fellow Americans, to grieve with their loved ones, to support this community, and pray for the wounded, and to try and find some meaning amidst our sorrow.
For the men and women who protect and serve the people of Dallas, last Thursday began like any other day. Like most Americans, each day you get up, probably have too quick a breakfast, kiss your family goodbye, and you head to work.
But your work and the work of police officers across the country is like no other. For 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.
His specific mentions of the officers that involved small bits about their lives were meaningful as well.
He should have stopped there. But he didn't. Not by a long shot.
Firstly, he equated the tears for the 5 slain officers with those mourning Alton Sterling and Philando Castile:
I see people who mourn for the five officers we lost, but also weep for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. In this audience, I see what’s possible.
He didn't, of course, mention the crucial difference: the five officers were specifically targeted and executed because they were white cops. As far as Sterling and Castile, no investigations have concluded so we don't know the facts about those deaths.
Secondly, he couldn't resist asserting racism within the ranks of law enforcement:
We also know that centuries of racial discrimination, of slavery, and subjugation, and Jim Crow; they didn’t simply vanish with the law against segregation....But America, we know that bias remains...No institution is entirely immune, and that includes our police departments.
In other words, the protestors have a point: Police target blacks because they're black. The takeaway: they've effectively brought this on themselves.
He also made sure to mention that the government isn't spending enough money, essentially excusing evil due to economic circumstance:
As a society, we choose to under-invest in decent schools. We allow poverty to fester so that entire neighborhoods offer no prospect for gainful employment. We refuse to fund drug treatment and mental health programs.
He neglected to point out that many, if not all, of the most underperforming schools and the cities with the highest unemployment rates have been leftist or Democrat dominated for generations. Cities that come to mind, such as Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. haven't had right-wing or Republican leadership for decades. Education spending has skyrocketed, even in these cities, to no good effect, while at the same time policies and burdens that strangle business and entrepreneurship have grown leviathan-like.
The final straw for me was the most dishonest assertion of the entire way-too-long talk:
We flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book.
In which community is this even close to being true? It takes the concept of rhetorical flourish to never-before-seen heights and is shameless in its readily-apparent falsehood. There are federal laws on the books right now that make it illegal for a teenager to even own a handgun, let alone buy one. I'm certainly unaware of similar restrictions for computers or books.
The absurdity goes beyond the legal aspects, as well. Within a few minutes of the speech, Sean Davis of The Federalist pointed out that surveys show that 92% of American teenagers access the internet every single day and that around 33% of households have guns. Davis' summary comment illustrates just how fundamentally unserious were the president's remarks on this point:
Does Barack Obama believe that more than 92 percent of American teenagers illegally possess and shoot handguns each day? Because that’s what would need to be happening in order for his statement to be true. As of 2014, roughly one-third of U.S. households had guns in them. Are we to believe that the incidence of handgun usage among teenagers is three times higher than the ownership rate of all households in the U.S.? Because that would also need to be true for his statement to be accurate.
So what was the point of all of this? It certainly wasn't to convey a sense of mourning and national sadness over the event; it was to berate Americans. It wasn't to push back in anger against evil racist murders; it was to spread blame and further divide the nation.
The president showed incredibly poor taste and a reflexive inability to appropriately comport himself to the context of the event. We would have been better off had he stayed home and just sent some flowers.