Obama on the deaths of the men and women in Tucson

I’d already watched Sarah Palin’s recorded statement on the Arizona shootings when I’d decided to track down video of President Obama’s speech at the Tucson memorial service for those men and women who were killed or wounded on Saturday. I know that, in the past, I’ve expressed a great deal of dissatisfaction with the President, over things ranging from his handling of health care reform to, most recently, his failure to fight the Republicans on their fiscally irresponsible tax cuts for the wealthy, but, watching him on the stage in Tucson, attempting with so much grace and dignity to hold this terribly fractured nation of ours together, especially after having watched Sarah Palin’s self-centered attempt to claim victimhood under the guise of concern for her fellow Americans, I realized that there’s no one else that I’d rather have leading our country at this moment in history.

The entire transcript of Obama’s address can be found in the pages of the Atlantic, but here are a few of my favorite parts.

…We may ask ourselves if we’ve shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we’re doing right by our children, or our community, whether our priorities are in order.

We recognize our own mortality, and we are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this Earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame — but rather, how well we have loved — and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better.

…..If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate — as it should — let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point-scoring and pettiness that drifts away in the next news cycle.

The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better. To be better in our private lives, to be better friends and neighbors and coworkers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy — it did not — but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud.

We should be civil because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American Dream to future generations.

They believed — they believed, and I believe that we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved life here — they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another, that’s entirely up to us.

And I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.

That’s what I believe, in part because that’s what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed.

Imagine — imagine for a moment, here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that some day she, too, might play a part in shaping her nation’s future. She had been elected to her student council. She saw public service as something exciting and hopeful. 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 to live up to her expectations. 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…

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10 Comments

  1. Ypsi Ghost
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Obama just has better writers.

  2. Knox
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    The thought of her and McCain in the White House gives me chills. I cannot believe the race between them was even remotely close.

  3. Posted January 14, 2011 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    I don’t see what the big deal is why do you hold this corporate puppet in such high regard? He gives one nice speech that we all know he didn’t write, and then tomorrow it’s back to censoring the Internet and sending drone bombers to kill 20 innocent people here, 30 schoolkids there in the Middle East.

    And because he speaks well, we forget the imperialism and the endless violence he orders the government to carry out.

    His administration might be the one that is responsible for the end of the Internet we all know and love, this could have huge effects on bloggers and freedom of speech in general . And it sounds like a lot of the readers here would just vote for him again because of the whole lesser of two evils excuse.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/dec/28/us-drone-attacks-no-laughing-matter

  4. Kim
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I like what Jack Cafferty had to say when he compared Palin’s response to Obama’s.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuqGspBl96E

  5. Oliva
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Mark. Lovely statement and beautiful selections.
    I too want to live up that darling little brown-eyes girl’s expectations.
    It’s not easy staying wide-open in this world full of people so eager to pounce, but may all our hearts be open more a bit every day, until we are . . . radiant.
    With love. Including love of the deep intelligence that knows to choose words just so. May we all have a bit more of that, too, every day. Myself included hugely.

  6. Alice Krum
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    She didn’t get a lot of press but another little girl died in Arizona not too long ago. Her name was Brisenia, and she was murdered by the leaders of a radical militia group. She was ten.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murders_of_Raul_and_Brisenia_Flores

  7. Eggo
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    I continue to be pissed about Gitmo, the Patriot Act, and any number of other things, but, when I think what could have been, I can’t help but be thankful for Obama. And, over time, I’ve come to trust that he knows how much he can realistically get done. I truly think he’d love to kill the Patriot Act, but, at this moment, he doesn’t see it as being possible due to the political situation. He knows that, if he were to fight it, everything else would stop in its tracks. I think he’s turning the rudder as hard as he can though.

  8. Posted January 14, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    See? That right there: “I can’t help but be thankful for Obama. And, over time, I’ve come to trust that he knows how much he can realistically get done. I truly think he’d love to kill the Patriot Act, but, at this moment, he doesn’t see it as being possible due to the political situation.”

    That’s what I’m talking about, that mentality right there. Now I’m not picking on you personally Eggo, but that mentality needs to go the way of the Dodo.

    He can get done whatever he wants, hes the President isn’t he? he promised us change didn’t he? Doesn’t that mean doing only what the voters who put you in office want? Let’s not make excuses for him too.

    It isn’t possible to get rid of the Patriot Act because of the political situation? You mean all of the lies that we continue to be told about “national security”.

    So we’re at the point where we just lay down and take then aren’t we? That’s what I worry about.

  9. Oliva
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    He can get done whatever he wants, hes the President isn’t he?

    I’m probably minus a big chunk of being able to tell when someone is being facetious, so forgive me if this comment was meant to be. But being U.S. president isn’t like being all-powerful–or even an old-fashioned king or present-day dictator. I remember Obama being careful to talk about the help he’d need in trying to steer the big ship of state toward meaningful change–significantly, in putting pressure on our representatives. But even if a super-gigantic bunch of citizens had been on board for that from the start and worked tirelessly for significant change, which isn’t at all how it went, he’s actually curtailed constitutionally from being able to do as he pleases, not to mention by powerful countervailing forces, some of them quite ominous and willing to stir angry passions by popularizing untruths and making them stick. Not that there aren’t plenty of frustrations.

  10. Posted January 15, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    I’m not saying he should act like a dictator even though he does that pretty good already. I just wish his supporters would admit that they got duped by his more powerful than Pepsi ad campaign and that he’s a corporate puppet. I predict that the very liberal Ann Arbor/Ypsi area will support him strongly again in the next election, which has already started. And once one of his opponents is critical of his actions as president, that’s when the screams and complaints of racism will come. Once someone talks about how bad a president he’s been the race card will be thrown out and people will latch on it because how could he be a bad president? He’s the 2nd MLK right? Isn’t that his supported think? I can still remember hearing the EMU students yelling and screaming for him when he won the election at like 10:30 PM that day. People really thought he was an MLK type and that’s why the intellectual discussion about this issue is hopeless. It’s all been engineered by our social controllers, all they need is a few more posters of Obama looking stoic like MLK and people will jump all over that because it’s way easier than taking the time to think critically.

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