In Our Time

Liberalism in the Headlights

The murder of five white police officers in Dallas, immediately following the fatal shootings of a black man in Louisiana and another in Minnesota, gave President Obama the opportunity to engage in still another of the flights of soaring clichés and wafting banalities for which his admirers celebrate him; Hillary Clinton the chance to demonstrate once again that she is a towering bore even to her own followers; and the national media to indulge themselves in one more of their countless exercises in determining what the public reaction to that and similar events should be, and convincing the American public that the response is indeed what they are experiencing spontaneously.

In Dallas the President spoke of the many families he has hugged following similar incidents during his seven and a half years in office and of the inadequacy of his own words in addressing the nation; of the need to “build bridges” to prevent people from “hardening their positions” and “drawing lines” as they “retreat to their respective corners”; and of politicians’ responsibility to resist “grabbing attention” and “avoiding the fallout.”  Obama counseled against a fear that “the center won’t hold”—an attitude he condemned as “despair,” though he did concede that “it’s as if the deepest fault lines of our democracy have suddenly...

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