President Obama addressed a nation uneasy from a long day (click here for updates) of viewing photos of bloody Americans and did not tell them much. "We still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn't jump to conclusions before we have all the facts," he said on Monday evening. "But make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this, and we will find out who did this, we'll find out why they did this." Unlike CNN, which was defending their coverage moments before the President spoke, Obama did not use the word "terror" to describe the attacks.
Obama was not alone. Most of Washington, where tragedy seems to be habitually followed by political posturing, did the same. Political officials were quiet after the bombings, with no elected officials rushing to politicize the tragedy, unlike some pundits. The House and Senate had moments of silence. Official statements were mostly perfunctory expressions of sympathy -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was "shocked and saddened," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said her prayers were with the victims and first responders. That was true across the country, from Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "Praying for the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy and their families #PrayforBoston," House Speaker John Boehner said. The offices of both Obama and Boehner released photos of the men somberly getting the news by phone.
Pundits, of all leanings, who used social media to inch out in front of the news, were quickly shouted down. The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof initially said on Twitter that the event demonstrated why Senate Republicans ought not block the confirmation of a nominee for director of the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms bureau, but relented soon after in the face of criticism: "I take it back." The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto at first reacted to the announcement that Obama would make a statement by tweeting, "Obama is going to make a statement. Boehner is going to have a moment of silence. Advantage GOP." He deleted the tweet minutes later: "Critics of my last tweet have a point. Deleted."
"We've reaffirmed that on day like this there are no Republicans or Democrats," Obama said once he finally addressed the cameras. "There are only Americans." For an afternoon, that was true.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.