It's pretty much what everyone is saying, notably Emily Yoffe at Slate (where one ordinarily expects support for the Prez). When I encounter a controversy at this late stage of one-sidedness, my instinct is to develop the other side. Law school class is like that, you know. If there's a case that everyone just somehow knows is rightly decided, the way to have a discussion about it isn't to remark upon its obviousness, but to figure out how someone — someone intelligent, educated, and sane — could think it wasn't right. That's what I do.
Read Yoffe's description of Obama's eulogy, which dwells on Obama's own life, growing up in Hawaii, the state Inouye represented in the Senate. Obama talks about his family vacations, where they stayed in motels, and the motel rooms had TVs, and — "as the people must have been twitching in the pews wondering where this was all going" — the Watergate hearings were on TV, and so he saw Inouye, and because Inouye did not have that typical white person look, the young mixed-race Obama was inspired to imagine "what might be possible in my own life."
A funeral for a very old person — Inouye was 88 — is not an occasion for deep mourning or soothing profound shock. It can be an occasion to look back on the era, to indulge one's own personal connections to the time and the man who has passed on. And if the President of the United States speaks at the funeral, that in itself is a phenomenal honor for the deceased. The President should not read a typical eulogy, a conventional account of the dead man's achievements and wonderful personal traits. This is something different. And when the President is specifically noted for his oratory, something special is anticipated.
No one — I submit — was "twitching in the pews wondering where this was all going." They were rapt, experiencing the gift of a unique presentation, The Story of a Boy — that boy! — and how his individual history merged with The Story of America — A Story of Race. They knew, as they surrendered themselves into the hands of our storyteller-in-chief, that they would be cared for and rewarded. The threads would come together, the yarns would be knitted into a beautiful eulogy blanket, under which Daniel Inouye could be laid to rest and all would be comforted.
How dare you snatch that comfort away by counting the "I"s and "me"s in that speech?!