Leader and healer

Every American who watched President Obama’s speech at the memorial service for the victims of the murderous rampage in Tucson surely felt a swelling of pride over how that community, and this country, is coming together in the face of adversity.

The president’s remarks struck the right balance between memorializing the victims, celebrating their legacies, and moving that community and the country toward healing after this terrible tragedy.

Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age, but for the first time that I can remember, this president moved me and connected with me emotionally through his carefully crafted words and his demeanor. I listened to most of the speech on the radio, racing home after a long day of work and trying to get there before my own children, three girls, one almost the same age as the youngest victim, went off to bed. When I got there, I caught the last few minutes on television, adding a vivid visual spectacle to the stirring words of our president.

When he was finished, and as that entire auditorium of thousands of people stood and applauded and cheered, I thought to myself and shared with my wife that this speech, this moment, is when President Obama became president of the United States. His remarks transcended the bitter politics of our time and took us to a place where we all shared the pain of loss that those Arizona families have suffered and then showed us a path forward toward healing and hope for a better America.

I don’t believe that the deranged gunman was motivated by politics or identified with a particular fringe element of a political party. Without proof otherwise, I don’t believe he was driven to do this by political speech. He was a troubled young man who chose his own path and I’m glad, relieved actually, that the president didn’t use this opportunity to lay blame or offer political solutions.

For the nearly 70 million Americans who voted for Barack Obama and his vision of a better America in 2008, that candidate became president last night. The visionary, motivational leader who electrified the nation with a promise of hope for America in 2008 has connected again with them through his message of peace and healing.

This speech may or may not hold up over time. But for now, when a nation needed it most, its president strode to the podium and delivered one of the most remarkable and unifying addresses of his presidency. For that, all Americans can be proud.


David Di Martino is CEO of Blue Line Strategic Communications Inc. The views expressed in this blog are his and do not necessarily represent Blue Line’s. Follow David: @bluelinedd.