In a very poignant statement, President Obama successfully used the power of the bully pulpit to rise above politics and lay to rest the partisan political exploitation of the tragedy that some have pushed in the days following the massacre.
“Yes, we have to examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of such violence in the future. But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. That we cannot do. That we cannot do. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let’s use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy and remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together.” said the President.
He added “at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized — at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do — it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds“
On this somber occasion, President Obama and the entirety of his speech provided our nation with some much needed positive perspective and unifying hope. He successfully combined the somber sentiments of the situation with a mix of enthusiastic optimism for our ability to heal, in a way that few have the oratory skill to fuse together in one speech.
“I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it. All of us — we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.” said President Obama.
Tonight President Obama acted and led in a way that should make us all proud. As is the case with most who find themselves charged with the responsibility of presiding over our nation during times of crisis, President Obama rose to the occasion and all of us should be proud and grateful for that.
In some perverse way, the tragedy in Tucson afforded President Obama with an unintended opportunity that he unintentionally took advantage of, an opportunity for the American people to gain greater confidence in him, his leadership and his judgment. Of course, the totality of all the issues facing this nation will quickly test that confidence and his political judgment and leadership, but for one of the first times in his presidency, President Obama has bonded with the American people and afforded himself a wealth of wiggle room in the months ahead.