Jonathan Alter predicts that the president will comment on the Gifford tragedy during the SOTU address:

The State of the Union will almost certainly begin with heart-wrenching symbolism. Ever since Ronald Reagan put a “citizen hero,” Lenny Skutnik, in the balcony of the House chamber after he rescued passengers from the wreck of an Air Florida jet that crashed in the freezing Potomac River in 1982, American presidents have all used their State of the Unions speeches to honor their own “Skutniks,” as they’ve come to be called in Washington. This year will be no different. At least one or two people connected to the horrific incident (The 20-year-old office intern who heroically applied triage to Gabrielle Giffords? A relative of slain federal judge John Roll?) will undoubtedly sit with Michelle Obama at the speech. And it’s hard to imagine that the poignant birth date of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Greene, September 11, 2001, will escape mention.

From there Obama and his speechwriters will try to set the incident in context. This won’t be easy. As I wrote last week, he needs to govern more in poetry than he has thus far. But if the prose is too purple, it falls flat. If he over-analyzes the tragedy, he risks seeming to middle-of-the-roaders as if he’s politicizing it. (The Right will think that in any event). And if he even implies a direct connection between the words and websites of politicians and the twisted mind of Jared Lee Loughner, he’s asking for trouble.

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