I'll leave the full exegesis of President Obama's speech in Tucson to those more qualified than I am. My own impression is that he provided what had so far been missing from this tragedy: a response that dignified the memories of the victims and properly placed them at the forefront of public attention. The rousing, celebratory tenor of the remarks took me by surprise, though this did not seem the least bit inappropriate. Whether or not his speech will reorient the national conversation along healthier, more productive lines--whether people will heed his call to demonstrate "our good example"--is something that will become clear soon enough. But it's hard to think of a more compelling argument for why we ought to do so than the one he put forward: "Only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud."
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