Praise for the president’s eulogy for the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, shot and killed in the Charleston, S.C. church massacre, was no less than stratospheric. National Journal columnist Ron Fournier tweeted that the president’s speech, which integrated a performance of “Amazing Grace,” gave him “chills” and declared, “Books will be written about this week.”
He might be right. The question is, which New York Times reporter will publish his or her book first? Today’s “First Draft” column — ironically promoted as “Political News, Now,” considering it’s been ten days since the president delivered his eulogy — devotes several paragraphs to the president’s decision to sing at the service, which included input from both adviser Valerie Jarrett and the first lady.
Mr. Obama was on the Marine One helicopter leaving the White House en route to Andrews Air Force Base for his flight to South Carolina when he mentioned the thought to Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett, their close friend and a White House senior adviser.
“When I get to the second part of referring to ‘Amazing Grace,’ I think I might sing,” he told them, by Ms. Jarrett’s account.
He tried to explain. “I don’t know whether I’m going to do it,” he said, according to Ms. Jarrett, “but I just wanted to warn you two that I might sing.” He added, “We’ll see how it feels at the time.”
It looks like the joke might be on The Los Angeles Times’ Steven Zeitchik, who published a laudatory piece the day after the funeral entitled, “President Obama’s ‘Amazing Grace’ moment and the power of spontaneous song.”
“It was not the first time Obama had used spontaneous song to connect with a crowd,” wrote Zeitchik, adding, “Spontaneity is rare in politics, so when it actually happens, it can be a breath of fresh air.”
Is anything truly spontaneous if Valerie Jarrett is involved?
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