Michael Chabon wrestles with the conclusion of the president's Tucson speech - where Obama memorably said that "If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today":
There is no heaven, man. The brunt, the ache and the truth of a child's death is that he or she will never jump in rain puddles again. That joy was taken from her, and along with it ours in the pleasure of all that splashing. Heaven is pure wishfulness, an imaginary solution to the insoluble problem of the contingency and injustice of life.
But I've been chewing these words over since last night, and I've decided that, in fact, they were appropriate to a memorial for a child, far more appropriate, certainly, than all that rude hallooing. A literal belief in heaven is not required to grasp the power of that corny wish, to feel the way the idea of heaven inverts in order to express all the more plainly everythingwishes, hopes and happinessthat the grieving parents must now put away, along with one slicker and a pair of rain boots.
Ezra Klein likewise thought the rhetorical flourish cheap. I think Obama's fatherhood probably led him to the slight excess.