As an avid post-massacre speech enthusiast, I approached President Obama’s latest address with an open mind. I really wanted to like it. Unfortunately, I felt that it drew too much on his past post-massacre speeches. To be fair, I’m sure after revisiting the same idea repeatedly, it must be really difficult not to just rehash the exact same approach every time. Still, it pains me to say that it just felt sort of forced this time around.
After the first three or four massacres, we saw a genuine air of surprise on his part; shock, even. Over time, that shock dwindled to mere frustration and disgust with us as a country. But after the last few shootings, there seems to be a sort of vacancy in the president’s eyes. It’s almost as if he’s addressing something he doesn’t even want to accept as reality.
I just want to see the same passion and resolve we got from him with those first few massacres. I realize that he’s the leader of the free world and that these post-massacre speeches are a part of his job that he probably doesn’t look forward to. But when you run for the position of POTUS, it should sort of go without saying that you’re going to be addressing a lot of gun-related violence on an epic scale. I mean, like, scads of gun-related deaths throughout your entire term. Shit tons, even.
As a country, we should probably stop allowing these speeches to take away from the myriad of other responsibilities we expect of our presidents. In fact, we have an opportunity here to create a new Cabinet position for one special person whose only duty would be to emotionally direct the nation every time one of us takes out more lives in mere seconds than should be humanly possible.
It would have to be someone eloquent and soothing. Someone who could take us by our shaky, white-knuckled hand and pry our chubby American fingers from around our assault rifle trigger and wrap them around a Big Gulp instead. Someone to look into our frightened eyes and say, “You did it again, didn’t you? When are you going to learn? What do I need to do?” And we would say, “Maybe a law?” And that person would say, “Yeah, no. But here’s this awesome speech.” Just something to consider for future massacres.
I’m hopeful that President Obama’s next address will leave us reeling. Specifically, I would love to see actual tears. Not just a few crocodile tears, mind you, but the kind of ugly man cry that makes one recoil in disgust and mumble comforting phrases while scanning the room for exits. Some phlegm would be great.
While in past speeches, our president has touched on his anger at our nation’s unending, totally preventable violence, I would love to see him explore his wrath a little more. Some real physicality on his part would be very satisfying. Those podiums can’t be too hard to kick over. Even if he were to launch a podium into the bank of reporters in front of him, I’m just saying, it wouldn’t kill anyone and it would really get his point across.
Another option would be for him to rip off his shirt, Incredible Hulk-style, and roar intensely while tearing a sheaf of papers in half. I’m just spitballing here. I’m pretty sure that, legally, he could get away with doing at least as much damage as you would encounter at a Henry Rollins show. Just a thought.
So while I wouldn’t say this most recent post-massacre speech is one of his best, if you’ve enjoyed the ones leading up to this, I would still recommend it. Or you could just wait and pick up the box set on Blu-ray when it’s released in the fall.