President Barack Obama did not have an easy task when he spoke at the public memorial service for the victims of the Tucson rampage. Like other presidents after a national tragedy, he had to rise above politics and help the healing process, in the way only presidents can.
Obama struck the right tone for the moment and delivered the right message. He steered well clear of the blame game that has dominated much of the public conversation since Saturday's horror. While he mentioned that there will be debates on gun control and mental health, he didn't engage in them.
Instead, he made the essential point that the shooting happened at an event that has been at the core of American democracy. A member of Congress, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was meeting with her constituents so she could bring their concerns and hopes back to Washington, D.C. "That quintessentially American scene, that was the scene that was shattered by a gunman's bullets," the president said.
And that is why this massacre has resonated so deeply.
Looking forward, Obama summoned Americans to strive toward a more perfect union through reflection and debate "worthy of those we have lost." He evoked the memory of 9-year-old Christina Green, who was in the line of fire because she was interested in public service and wanted to meet her representative.
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