MUST WE PARSE THE MEANING OF THE WORD ‘OPEN’?…. To the delight of the audience at last night’s memorial service, President Obama told attendees last night that he’d just come from Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ (D-Ariz.) bedside. “And I want to tell you — her husband Mark is here and he allows me to share this with you — right after we went to visit, a few minutes after we left her room and some of her colleagues in Congress were in the room, Gabby opened her eyes for the first time,” the president said.

In yet another disheartening display, some on the right would have us believe Obama wasn’t telling the truth. He was, but the accusation itself is a reminder of just what’s become of our discourse.

In one of the most cynical displays in recent memory, following the lead of Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft, several conservative websites — including Fox Nation and MRC arm CNS News — suggested that President Obama lied last night when he said that Rep. Giffords had opened her eyes for the first time shortly after his Wednesday night visit to the hospital.

In a recently-completed press conference, Giffords’ doctor Peter Rhee explained that what Obama said last night about Giffords opening her eyes was “true.”

Apparently, Giffords had previously opened her eyes in response to “stimulus” from physicians, but last night was the first time the congresswoman had done so voluntarily and spontaneously. In other words, Giffords opened her eyes on her own last night — it was a development her neurosurgeon described today as “a major milestone.”

The “lie” the right had uncovered wasn’t a lie at all.

But stepping back, it’s worth realizing how truly ridiculous the criticism from the right is even at face value. Obama had heartening news about a congresswoman who very nearly died, and that news happened to be true. For some conservatives, however, this was not only an opportunity to catch the president in some kind of “gotcha” moment — an effort that proved wrong anyway — but also to parse the meaning of the word “open.”

Is the right really this desperate? Do they hang on the president’s every word, wondering how to manipulate his every remark into some kind of cheap attack?

Good lord, these guys really need to grow up. This is just pathetic.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.