Even the toughest of President Obama’s critics seemed to be impressed with his speech at Tuesday’s memorial service in Dallas, calling it one of his best ever — at least until halfway though, when he took the expected detour into politics and preaching, making ridiculous claims about guns that will be quoted endlessly by gun control groups unconcerned with facts.
Plenty are picking apart his speech line by line to find the gems, but there was one moment when the president who campaigned so famously on a platform of hope and change seemed to demonstrate a level of self-awareness never before seen.
"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about change. I've seen how inadequate my own words have been," says @POTUS
— Mark Wiggins (@MarkW_KVUE) July 12, 2016
Does the president even realize that, just for that moment, he was genuinely criticizing himself and not the country that he thought needed to be fundamentally transformed?
— POLITICO (@politico) July 12, 2016
The line is reminiscent of his 2008 “Just Words” campaign speech in Wisconsin, during which he addressed criticism from his opponent, Hillary Clinton, that he was all words and no action. “It’s true that speeches don’t solve all problems,” he said then, “but what is also true is that if we can’t inspire the country to believe again, then it doesn’t matter how many plans and policies we have.”
Obama '08: "We are the change we have been waiting for”
Obama '16: "I’ve seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change"
— Anthony Zurcher (@awzurcher) July 12, 2016
Don’t forget 2012 when, on the eve of his reelection, President Obama told Univision, “The most important lesson I’ve learned is you can’t change Washington from the inside.” Not the most inspiring words from the most powerful man in America, but it was enough to buy him another four years.
2008: "Don't tell me words don't matter."
2016: "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."
— Josh Greenman (@joshgreenman) July 12, 2016
Well, that was 2008, this is 2016, and no, he didn’t inspire much of the country to believe again.
One of the saddest and self-aware sentences President Obama has ever spoken: "I have seen how inadequate my own words have been."
— Jonathan Allen (@jonallendc) July 12, 2016
"I've seen how inadequate my own words have been." – @POTUS
Damn. A very self-aware and painful moment from Obama, who's a great speaker.
— John Haltiwanger (@jchaltiwanger) July 12, 2016
.@POTUS stating openly something he's grappled with: "I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change."
— Mike Memoli (@mikememoli) July 12, 2016
— Imad Mesdoua (@ImadMesdoua) July 12, 2016
It was a sad moment — one that passed quickly so that the president could move on with his speech and deliver far too many more words.
"I've seen how inadequate my own words have been,” he said before launching into a 10 min. lecture on race, police brutality, gun violence..
— T. Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) July 12, 2016
@BecketAdams "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been", but here are some more, just in case.
— Jeryl Bier (@JerylBier) July 12, 2016
@HotlineJosh There is never not a political, partisan moment for POTUS, who just claimed to have 'seen how inadequate his words are'.
— Andrew Forcier (@ForcierHD57) July 12, 2016
"I see how inadequate my words have been," says POTUS. Understatement of the decade. #DallasMemorial
— Eye on Politics (@EyeOnPolitics) July 12, 2016
— Cruz Republican (@ChuckoSchubio) July 12, 2016
.@POTUS: "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been…"
— Jerry G! ☔️ (@JerryLEADS) July 12, 2016
Most truthful thing Obama has said, how inadequate his own words have been. He should add his actions to that inadequate list
— Hickory Taylor (@HickoryTaylor) July 12, 2016
The POTUS said "i see how inadequate my own words have been" REALEST SHIT HE EVER SAID
— Bae of Future Past (@CeCe_McFly) July 12, 2016
The question now: will President Obama reflect further on this realization before speaking again, or is this just a warning that there are more executive actions to come where he was unable to move Congress and the public with his rhetorical skills?