Today, the consoler in chief finally emerged to comfort the nation after the massacres in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
No, not President Donald Trump. He spoke, too, in White House remarks read stiffly from a teleprompter, using a lexicon that sounds stunted coming from him.
Instead, this was Barack Obama, in a statement delivered on social media:
It is vintage Obama. There is the sense of consolation that seemed to come naturally to him—in any case, he got horrifically frequent practice at striking this tone during his eight years in office. There’s moral clarity, identifying the problem as “troubled individuals who embrace racist ideologies and see themselves obligated to act violently to preserve white supremacy,” and (in contrast to Trump) situating the internet’s role not as a cause but as a catalyst. And there is the call to unity that has been his central political theme since 2004: “But just as important, all of us have to send a clarion call and behave with the values of tolerance and diversity that should be the hallmark of our democracy.”
In substance, much of what Obama wrote echoes what Trump said earlier in the day. The difference is both tonal and contextual. Such language sounds more natural coming from Obama than from the coarse and combative Trump, and it is more persuasive because, unlike Trump, Obama hasn’t frequently encouraged and condoned violence or demonized both Americans and immigrants.