The Good, The Bad, And The Morally Ugly

Last Friday, President Obama had the unmitigated gall to say of the horrific shooting in Colorado:

My daughters go to the movies. What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater, as so many of our kids do every day? Michelle and I will be fortunate enough to hug our girls a little tighter tonight, and I’m sure you will do the same with your children. But for those parents who may not be so lucky, we have to embrace them and let them know we will be there for them as a nation.

Sunday evening at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, our President said the following:

Scripture says that “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more.  Neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  And when you have an opportunity to visit with families who have lost their loved ones — as I described to them, I come to them not so much as President as I do as a father and as a husband.  And I think that the reason stories like this have such an impact on us is because we can all understand what it would be to have somebody that we love taken from us in this fashion — what it would be like and how it would impact us.

Now, if you, a normal person, saw or heard or now read Mr. Obama’s remarks, the last thing you would think was that they were motivated by a selfish person, by someone trying to take political advantage of a murderous tragedy. Mr. Obama has two daughters, and naturally he relates the senseless death of murdered, mostly young people to the landmarks in his life, Sasha and Malia.

But, I said, a “normal person” would not think a thing about those remarks in political or diabolical terms. Rush Limbaugh, however, is not a normal person. He is a certifiably disturbing human being, who profits from publicly hating Democrats, those profits coming from sycophants who hang on his every wretched word.

I quote the following at length because it is important to understand that Limbaugh, and the millions of people who continue to make him rich, are morally ugly—goddamned ugly—people. He said of Mr. Obama’s remarks:

Look, I’m mayor of Realville.  I deal in the literal.  First off, did he say, “My two daughters go to the movies, what if they had been in that theater that night?”  Did he say, “I wonder if”?  Even if he said, “I wonder if my two daughters had been,” trying to relate to average, ordinary peons just as they might be asking, “Gee, what if my daughters had been there?”  Well, without those daughters, would he have a different reaction?  What’s the deal here?  If his daughters weren’t there, would he have a different reaction?  If Trayvon Martin hadn’t been black, would he have had a different reaction to a son that he didn’t have looking like Trayvon Martin?  When I read that, when I read that note, I thought, well, this is very typical, this is an egomaniac who really thinks that the people of this country think he is more important than any other human being alive in this country.

And then I said, can he only relate to this through his own flesh and blood?  Can he not relate to this with simply the loss that people in that theater have experienced?  Folks, I don’t know about you.  When I first heard about this, and I don’t have kids, so I didn’t think, “Well, what if my kids had been there?”  But I also didn’t think, “Gee, what if my brother had been there?  What if my nieces had been?” I’ve got nieces and nephews, I did not think, “Gee, what if they’d been in there?”  It wasn’t about me, I guess is my point.  Why does everything have to be about this guy, and why does he have to turn everything of noteworthy consequence in this country around so that it’s about him?  “My daughters go to the movies.  What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater, as so many of our kids are each day?  Michelle and I will be fortunate to hug our kids.”  I don’t know.  I just don’t know how many people made this about them.  That’s my only point.

And my only point is that if you think Rush Limbaugh’s remarks above are appropriate, then you too are one disturbed and disturbing human specimen.



  1. Duane, you are confirming in this post that the nation is suffering a pandemic of confirmation bias, and that right-wing talking heads like Limbaugh are its principal vectors.

    Limbaugh’s trenchant put-down of Obama’s basis for his sympathy is disgusting. I think all older adults know how difficult it is to console the bereaved, and that it is common for hurting and distraught survivors to reject sympathy when it is not based on real empathy. The President’s words show in this case where his is coming from. If he had not so justified his remarks I can well imagine Mr. Limbaugh criticizing him for offering empty consolation, for having no basis for sympathy.


    • Jim,

      I like the point you made about the difficulty in expressing the proper words or actions during times of tragedy. It seems to me the most natural thing in the world is to express your empathy in the most personal of terms, and as a parent I can’t think of anything more personal than my kids. Mr. Obama has done this twice now (the other related to Trayvon Martin) and I found them to be entirely appropriate.



  2. I think Rush does often over analyze every word that comes out of our presidents mouth, I also think our president has shown himself to be extremely conceted so this situation is like a coin, it’s all about which side of the coin your looking at. one author once said, if you go looking for the bad in someone, you will surely find it. I consider myself to be a ” middle of the road,” female conservative, but I actually did think to myself, what if that had been my daughter in that theatre? Thats my side of this coin.


    • Rush doesn’t just over-analyze, he deliberately misinterprets every word Obama says. And he does so all the way to the bank.

      Obama is conceited? How so?



  3. ansonburlingame

     /  July 30, 2012

    Kristen, first,

    What if your son or daughter was killed or hopelessly maimed in a war?

    What if your son or daughter had been a prison guard at Abu Grabi?

    What if your son or daughter was currently aboard a U.S. warship in the region of the Straits of Hormuz today waiting to see when a potential surprise attack might be launched in his/her direction?

    What if your son or daughter was in an Iranian prison because they “took a hike” near Iran?

    And how would any of you feel if George Zimmerman was your son today?

    Thus to all of you,

    It is one thing to suffer personal grief over the loss of loved ones. Most of us have undergone such trauma in our lives and for sure it is agonizing, personally.

    The challenge for government, any government is how to construct effective policies to mitigate the chances of such personal tragedy in a collective way. Cindy “whatever her name was” took her personal grief right onto the fronts pages of the world in her protests over the Iraq War.

    But were Cindy’s protests appropriate as a foundation of constructing the foreign policy of a nation? As well is the agony and outrage of the Martin Family appropriate avenues to adjudicate our laws. Remember Justice is “blind”. Justice as an ideal CANNOT adjudicate laws based on skin color. But about two minutes after the Martin case hit the national news I recall blacks IMMEDIATELY calling for prosecution of Zimmerman for a hate crime.



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