President Obama gave one of his best speeches tonight -- one that was much more emotional and cathartic than anyone could expect. He rose above the bickering and finger pointing of the last few days and spoke to our higher values.
Most impressively, Obama walked a very delicate line of remembering the fallen while trying to draw broader lessons for the country. Referring to nine year old Christina Taylor Green, who was killed by the gunman last Saturday, Obama noted she "was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted."
"I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy 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."
Well said, Mr. President. That's exactly what we should do.
* * *
Below are some other reactions:
"My own impression is that he provided what had so far been missing
from this tragedy: a response that dignified the memories of the victims
and properly placed them at the forefront of public attention."
Andrew Sullivan: " I am glad that the president has said we should debate the
manifold ways in which we can help prevent this from occurring again;
but that we should debate these things in a way that is worthy of the
victims, in a way that would make them proud. It's an elegant threading
of a very small needle. Watching Christina Green's parents as the
president speaks brings home the enormity of this crime. Making her
brief nine years of life the focus for hope and inspiration is a lovely
James Fallows: "The standard comparisons of the past four days have been to Ronald Reagan after the Challenger disaster and Bill Clinton after Oklahoma City. Tonight's speech matched those as a demonstration of "head of state" presence, and far exceeded them as oratory -- while being completely different in tone and nature. They, in retrospect, were mainly -- and effectively -- designed to note tragic loss. Obama turned this into a celebration -- of the people who were killed, of the values they lived by, and of the way their example could bring out the better in all of us and in our country."
Marc Ambinder: "By using the youngest victim of last week's rampage as his focal point,
Obama made her America's cause and asked the nation to live lives as
compassionate and caring as those felled by the gunman's bullets.
Without wading into the who-coarsened-our-culture debate, he
overshadowed it with a call to the better angels of our nature."
Garance Franke-Ruta: "President Obama tonight in Arizona not only did what he needed to do, he
did what the nation need him to do, which is to let its members -- like
members of a dysfunctional family whose brittle cousins spent the last
five days snapping at each other -- finally break down and feel,
together, what they were really feeling, the full weight of awfulness of
the national tragedy and crimes that were committed in Arizona."
Jacob Heilbrunn: "There was a finality to Obama's speech, a lapidary effect that endowed
it with humility and gravity. It would be hard to think of a more
moving and dignified speech, particularly when set against the foil of
Sarah Palin's creepy and self-absorbed effusions earlier today."
David Corn: "President Barack Obama's speech in Tucson was undeniably a high moment
of his presidency. But you can judge that for yourself. (As the father
of a nine-year-old daughter, I could not imagine delivering such an
address--and keeping it together.)"
Michael Crowley: "These call to our better angels -- directed less at the secondary issue of
public discourse and more at the first principles of what we value as a
society and the nobility of public service, perfectly matched the
heartbreaking occasion. All the better that Obama delivered these words
with both lyrical eloquence and moral authority. It was certainly the
finest rhetorical moment of his presidency -- and perhaps of his life."
Taegan D. Goddard is the founder of Political Wire, one of the earliest and most influential political web sites.
Goddard spent more than a decade as managing director and chief operating officer of a prominent investment firm in New York City. Previously, he was a policy adviser to a U.S. Senator and Governor.
Goddard is also co-author of You
Won - Now What? (Scribner, 1998), a political
management book hailed by prominent journalists and politicians from
both parties. In addition, Goddard's essays on politics and public
policy have appeared in dozens of newspapers across the country,
including the Washington Post, USA Today, Boston Globe, San Francisco
Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer and Christian Science
Goddard earned degrees from Vassar College and Harvard University. He lives in New York with his wife and three sons.
PRAISE FOR POLITICAL WIRE
"There are a lot of blogs and news sites claiming to understand
politics, but only a few actually do. Political Wire is one of them."
-- Chuck Todd, NBC News political director
"Concise. Relevant. To the point. Political Wire is the first site I check when I’m looking for the latest political nugget. That pretty much says it all."
-- Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report
"Political Wire is one of only four or five sites that I check every
day and sometimes several times a day, for the latest political news
-- Charlie Cook, editor of the Cook Political Report
"The big news, delicious tidbits, pearls of wisdom -- nicely packaged, constantly updated... What political junkie could ask for more?"
-- Larry Sabato, Center for Politics, University of Virginia
"Political Wire is a great, great site."
-- Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC's Morning Joe
"If I were on the proverbial
desert island and had only one web site to access, Political Wire would
-- Dotty Lynch, CBS News political consultant
"Taegan Goddard has a knack for digging out political gems that too
often get passed over by the mainstream press, and for delivering the
latest electoral developments in a sharp, no frills style that makes
his Political Wire an addictive blog habit you don't want to kick."
-- Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post
"Political Wire is one of the absolute must-read sites in the blogosphere."
-- Glenn Reynolds, founder of Instapundit
"I rely on Taegan Goddard's Political Wire for straight, fair political news, he gets right to the point. It's an eagerly anticipated part of my news reading."
-- Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist.
Send your tips, memos, comments and suggestions to