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President Obama spoke Wednesday night as the pastor in chief, not as a politician. His address in Tucson was highly personal, rooted in the biographies of the victims and in scripture, more about the country as a family than about government. It was neither therapeutic nor political and dealt only in passing with the roiling controversies that have divided left from right.

 

He spoke movingly about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her struggle for life. But the figure at the center of the speech, to whom he came back again and again, was nine-year old Christina Taylor Green, “an A student, a dancer, a gymnast and a swimmer.”
He returned to her to teach a moral lesson – she saw life “through the eyes of a child, undimmed by cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.” And he closed by describing her simple wishes, including the hope to jump in rain puddles. “If there are rain puddles in heaven,” the president said, “Christina is jumping in them today.”
He did issue a call to civility, but pointedly took no sides on the controversy over the role of vitriolic politics in the tragedy. “And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse,” he said, “let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility cased this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest discourse can face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that makes them proud.”
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SOURCE: The Washington Post
E.J. Dionne

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