In Tucson, The President Comforts A Nation

For good or for bad, political legacies are often born from tragedies. For President Obama, this may have been his moment.  At a time when the state of Arizona and the nation mourns those lost in the Tucson massacre and tries to make sense of Jared Loughner’s incomprehensible actions, the President, our President, stood up and offered a small slice of comfort to soothe a nation.  By all accounts he succeeded.

In a political climate rife with fear, intimidation and violence, President Obama offered words of promise and put a name and a face to six senseless deaths.  He offered words of guidance and sympathy, celebration and despair.  Each victim remembered for what they offered most to this country and to their families.  Each victim a reminder of the unspeakable evil humanity is capable of and each victim a call to the survivors to make sure their deaths were not in vain.

For those watching the event at times had the feel of a pep rally with a large crowd that cheered and whistled during the speeches.  Pundits seized on this atmosphere and some even felt it necessary to criticize the crowd for those cheers, suggesting that the audience was somehow not grieving appropriately. 

Let me take just a minute to address that criticism, for it echos criticism of another public memorial, and one that hit very close to my home.

Senator Paul Wellstone was in many ways the reason I moved to Minnesota and the reason I went into both the law and teaching.  His passion and drive to serve his state and his country still serve as an inspiration.  And when his plane went down on that cold October day, my adopted home state was never the same.  I remember the day vividly because it was the day I was sworn in as an attorney in the state of Minnesota.  Just after I took the oath, I got the call.  Senator Wellstone had died.

The public memorial that followed was a raucous affair.  The state was in shock.  His supporters were grieving.  Senator Wellstone was that rare breed of politician that personally touched lives and in that auditorium the reach of his influence was unmistakeable.  The event not only celebrated his life, and the lives of his dear wife Sheila and other family and friends, but it became a call to action–a demand that his supporters “never park the bus.”  And that night, at that memorial, that is exactly what we needed.

But that didn’t stop the critics from calling it a partisan travesty and for bashing those of us that in our deepest despair dug in to find a way out.

So to those who would criticize the cheering from the crowd at Tucson, I say stand down.  Grief follows no script and has no manners.  And this is not a time to spin nor a time to campaign.  It is just a time to be.

And like our President said, the best we can do when faced with the unexplainable is to move forward and to not turn on one another.  We should strive to be better in our private lives and in our public lives.  To be better to each other.  Simple and honest words so lacking in our current public discourse, but so necessary to hear.

Our president closed calling on Americans to live up to the expectations of the youngest victim, Christina Taylor Green, a young girl full of hope and ambition and belief that as Americans we are simply lucky to live in this country.  He gave us his own sense of loss as he shared his wish for our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined.  And as President Obama closed with an image of young Christina jumping in the rain puddles of heaven, a nation could come together and grieve and celebrate and hope and aspire again, even if only for a moment.

Related Stories: 

How They Heard the Obama Speech on Twitter

Jared Loughner’s Online Postings Reveal Deep Misogyny

Giffords Shooting Reveals Flaws in U.S. Mental Health Services


photo courtesy of Violentz via Flickr


William C
William C1 months ago

Thank you for the article.

W. C
W. C1 months ago


LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

Interesting, thank you.

LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

Interesting, thank you.

Donald MacDonald
don MacDonald7 years ago

" * Linda McKellar says
* Jan 14, 2011 9:32 PM

You're not the first person to use such rudeness in shouting down others on Care2... "

It looks like you not only make nasty remarks to others, as you did me...but now you accuse me of doing the same.

That is projection of the lowest order.

What you are doing is trying to marginalize me to fit your nasty characterization of me.

I challenge you to find an instance of me being rude or shouting down anyone on this forum.

We all know thats not going to happen though, don't we ?

If you continue on in this vein, I will certainly report your conduct to the administration.

No one on here should be censored...especially in such an underhanded manner.


Karen Simons
Karen Simons7 years ago

Thank you for your clearly written thoughts on this event. We need more of what you can bring to this and any discussion!

Linda McKellar
Past Member 7 years ago

Donald MacDonald.
No need for the CAPS Donald. I am intelligent, my vision is fine and I am perfectly able to comprehend in small case. I made statements and stand by them. We are both entitled to express ourselves in a democracy and hope we can do so courteously. I refuse to respond in a condescending manner because my mother taught me to be respectful and not bully others.
You're not the first person to use such rudeness in shouting down others on Care2 but I hope this behaviour ends by the minority who do so.
My point was, cooperation is necessary to accomplish anything whereas cynicism and sarcasm just tends to turn people off even when you DO have valid points, you know the old gather more bees with honey than shit syndrome. Whether you disagree with someone or not, you can do so respectfully. All I ask is that you be polite and that is why I addressed you in the first place. To respond as you do simply turns people off with the result that they just ignore you even when you do make valid points.
Now was that a nasty response? I hope not.

Donald MacDonald
don MacDonald7 years ago

• “Linda McKellar says
• Jan 14, 2011 10:03 AM "

To make it easier to understand, I will respond to in all 'CAPS'...for all the good it will do.

" Donald MacDonald - Could you please for once refrain from the sarcasm. The usual "smirk" of Obama is not relevant at such a time. "...IT IS WHEN ITS TURNED INTO A CAMPAIGN SPEECH


" Also, "molesting children and pedophilia" is inappropriate."...I TOTALLY AGREE...SO WHY DID HE AUTHORIZE MOLESTING AND IRRADIATING CHILDREN AT AIRPORTS ?

" Perhaps your preference is being blown out of the sky as some of my friends were on the Air India flight. "...AIR INDIA, OKLAHOMA CITY, GULF OF TONKIN(VIETNAM, WORLD TRADE CENTER 91), PEARL HARBOUR, 9/11, UNDERWEAR BOMBER...ALL THE SAME TERRORISTS INVOLVED-GOV ASGENTS


" The threat would be a lot less if the US would keep its nose out of other countries and that goes for BOTH parties."...I'M AFRAID BOTH "PARTIIES" HAVE THE SAME OWNER

" As for performance, that's all most politicians do any more, perform. "...PERFORMANCE AND DECEPTION ARE QUITE DIFFERENT

" Could you, for once, consider it might be heartfelt."...MAYBE IF HE DIDN'T AUTHORIZE THE CHILD MOLESTATION "

" His speech was eloquent and

Jim B.
Jim Bumgardner7 years ago

treated them like animals, then after they were freed, continued to treat them like animals, and didn't want them to ever get ahead in life. The reason I'm writing all this is to point out that racism is alive and well in this country, and it's mostly on the far right side of the spectrum. People hate Obama because he happens to be one AA who made it to where he is by being a very intelligent person. This is all about paranoia, and the far right is eaten up with it, thus they preach taking over the government by violence if necessary, although they would have to defeat the best armed forces in the world to do it. So, it's time for all people to call down anyone or any group who is spouting this crap, it's tearing our nation apart, while Rush, Palin, and the rest are getting rich from it.

Jim B.
Jim Bumgardner7 years ago

@Saundra B. I was not talking about all on the right, just the idiotic ones who spout inflammatory speech and the ones who eat that crap up. And no, Obama is not my "Messiah", and I didn't say he was. Yes, I'll admit that we have some on the left with whom I disagree, but you seldom see anyone on the left do anything as asinine as some of the vile that the right puts out there. I don't like for gun-loving idiots to make threats against this country and its people. And don't even try to tell me that these people are not racist as hell, save your breath. They feel intimidated by the color of the Obama's skin, and you know that as well as I do. They want a "white" America, but it's not going to happen. The want a "Muslim-free" America, but that's not going to happen. There are "Christians" in this country who are just as bad as the terrorists on the Muslim side. Want to know why some of the Muslims hate us so badly? We've invaded their territory, mainly because of our oil gluttony, and in the process have killed 100's 0f 1,000's of innocent people. Did you not expect something like 9/11 to happen? And people hate the Hispanics for coming here to find work, when they do work that most white people refuse to do. And let's not forget the white people who came to this country, almost wiped out the Native Amercan people, took their lands, and then wouldn't even let them go to school with whites. It's white people who brought slaves over from Africa, (cont.)