When the president stepped up to the podium in Tucson, the mood was more like a pep-rally than a memorial service, but the crowd’s energy proved to liven the spirits of everyone in attendance.
The president’s speech that some are calling the “Tucson Address” has received much positive review. The Washington Post called it “admirable.”
The speech will likely go down in history as a shining moment in the Obama administration and demonstrated the ability of the president to lead not only the nation’s grieving, but to pave the way towards a better United States.
Both sides of the political spectrum largely praised the president’s speech as well. Conservative commentator Glenn Beck said of the speech on his radio program it was the “best he (Obama) has ever given.”
President Obama’s opponent in the 2008 presidential election, John McCain, said that Obama both “comforted” and “inspired” the country.
Obama’s speech had such a positive effect on the crowd, country and state of politics for many reasons.
The topic itself, a tragedy, helped to quench the usual political flames coming from crowds listening to the president speak. One must look to his most recent address to congress when Republican Rep. Joe Wilson yelled out “you lie.”
No one disputed the president’s honesty during this speech when he urged that a more civil public discourse could help us face the challenges of our nation, “in a way that would make them (the victims) proud.”
After the shooting, the political scene was overflowing with finger pointing and accusations as to which side caused the shooter to pull the trigger.
Obama’s speech continued to put forth his belief that “we are full of decency and goodness,” and that “the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.”
When the president gave small anecdotes and spoke of each victim as if he knew them he gave a sense of great value to each of their lives. He highlighted their accomplishments, their dreams and tied them into being uniquely American. These victims are forever embedded in U.S. history and the president affirmed it.
At points during Obama’s speech, the energy of the crowd helped to emphasize the healing process that Arizona and the rest of the country will be experiencing for weeks, months and years to come.
The president controlled the emotions of the crowd well during the speech and helped Americans understand that this tragedy is not only an event that should bring us together, but one that demands reflection on why and how it happened.
“Our hearts are broken by their sudden passing,” Obama said, but then he gave the crowd a piece of information, which would fill their hearts with joy. He spoke of congresswoman Giffords opening her eyes for the first time and the crowd erupted with applause and cheer. He strongly said, “She knows that we are rooting for her.”
The president ended his speech effectively by using victim Christina Taylor-Green’s child-like innocence toward Giffords and the democratic process in general to speak on how the U.S. can become a better nation: “I want to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it.” The president urged Americans to “live up to our children’s expectations.”
— Daniel Pazos