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Glenn Beck praises Obama for Tucson speech. Can partisan pause last?

Some of President Obama's sharpest critics – from Glenn Beck to Pat Buchanan – spoke positively of his speech at the memorial service in Tucson Wednesday. But the collegial tone will be tested next week with a repeal of health-care reform on the docket.

By Staff writer / January 13, 2011

President Obama speaks Wedensday at a memorial service for the victims of Saturday's shootings in Tucson, Ariz.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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Washington

Fox News talker Glenn Beck called President Obama’s address Wednesday night at the Tucson memorial service “probably the best speech he has ever given.”

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Pat Buchanan, who wrote speeches for President Nixon, called it “splendid.” Michael Gerson, chief speechwriter under President George W. Bush, says “it had a good heart.” Fox News panelists Brit Hume, Charles Krauthammer, and Chris Wallace all voiced praise.

Some conservatives have suggested that Mr. Obama should have given such a speech sooner after last Saturday’s shooting rampage at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's event for constituents.

And then there’s talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, who suggested a more craven reason for the timing of the speech. He accused Obama of waiting to deliver his message of “civility” until the polling data were in, confirming that most Americans don’t buy a connection between the shooting and heated political rhetoric.

But even in his populist conservative manner, he found an indirect way to acknowledge some positives in the speech.

“Fox loved it," Mr. Limbaugh said. "The Fox All Stars, when this was done, were slobbering over the speech. It was predictable. They were slobbering for the predictable reasons – it as smart, it was articulate.... It was everything the educated, ruling class wants their leaders to be and sound like.”

So for once, most of ultra-divided Washington could agree on something: that Obama had succeeded in expressing the nation’s grief and hope after a tragedy, and appropriately used the occasion to address the larger issue of civility in public discourse.

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