Here’s the most thoughtful conservative appreciation of the President’s speech. And here are some points I want to emphasize:
1. The president did not blame the shooting on “inflammatory rhetoric.” There’s no evidence whatsoever that political rhetoric or tone was the cause of the act of a madman.
2. So he called for civility–not because the tragedy was caused by incivility, but because that would be an appropriate memorial for those who died.
3. The president is at his best when he speaks trans-partisan words full of civility and empathy, words that are a perfectly appropriate expression of what all Americans feel in response to pointless slaughter.
4. But it’s not true that the president’s political agenda deserves to prevail because it’s postpartisan, civil, and full of emphathy, and his opponents share none of those qualities.
5. It’s certainly true that on his health-care policy the Republicans are beginning by being “naysayers,” by repeal. That’s the mandate they were given by voters who expressed themselves clearly in repudiation of the president’s policies. The “affordable care” bill itself passed narrowly and quickly and in a most parti-an and untransparent way. The leading Republican members of Congress–such as Pence, Ryan, and Cantor–have expressed their objections to it in a way that’s civil enough, very partisan, and backed up by facts and argumens.
6. The Republicans, it’s true, have to do a better job in conveying their alternative vision of health care to the American people. But for those paying attention, it’s also true that they really do have one.
7. In general, domestic political controversy can’t be resolved by soaring rhetoric. And rhetoric is no replacement for competence.