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9.42 pm To rate this address on any political meter would be to demean it. The president wrested free of politics tonight and spoke of greater things. I pledge myself to try and follow his advice and debate with vigor and spirit and candor and bluntness, but with more civility, more empathy, and, yes, more love.

9.35 pm I am glad that the president has said we should debate the manifold ways in which we can help prevent this from occurring again; but that we should debate these things in a way that is worthy of the victims, in a way that would make them proud. It's an elegant threading of a very small needle. Watching Christina Green's parents as the president speaks brings home the enormity of this crime. Making her brief nine years of life the focus for hope and inspiration is a lovely peroration.

"I want America to be as good as [Christina] imagined it."

And one senses palpably that Obama's own love for his own daughters is behind this message.

9.31 pm Obama suggests that this sudden tear in our communal fabric can be a chance to reconsider our lives and our loves. It has been a deeply spiritual speech, and it has transcended politics, which was not as easy as he made it appear.

9.27 pm "What we cannot do is use this as another occasion to turn on each other."

9.23 pm. The way in which Obama has made this about the heroism and character of those who were on the scene has been a grace-filled re-focus on the hope, rather than the anger.

9.20 pm. I find myself in tears, as the president speaks of Gabrielle Giffords' eyes opening for the first time since she was attacked. This is profoundly emotional in ways I did not quite expect. And cathartic.

9.13 pm. Another sentence that should not uplift us, but does: "A Republican, she took a liking to Gabby, and wanted to get to know her more." What a concept.

9.11 pm. I did not know that John Roll was on his way back from Mass - something he did every day, according to the president.

9.01 pm. Napolitano reading Isaiah was a lovely touch. Holder's invocation of Corinthians was also strikingly devout. How wonderful to see Scripture invoked this way by public officials. And restraint.

8.50 pm. I haven't written anything so far because it, well, seems inappropriate. This speaks for itself. All I can say is that hearing governor Jan Brewer being so graceful to the president in her introduction was uplifting. That such a courtesy should be uplifting is a terrible sign of where we now find ourselves.

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