Two days after the 9/11 attacks, a reporter asked President Bush how his religious faith might carry him through the terrorist crisis. "I don't think about myself right now. I think about the families, the children," he replied. "I'm a loving guy and I'm also someone, however, who's got a job to do, and I intend to do it."
The president's eyes reddened and watered, his voice cracked. He continued: "This is a terrible moment. But this country will not relent."
That exchange with Bush in the Oval Office flashed through my mind several times throughout this horrid week. First, when two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and President Obama, like Bush a dozen years prior, channeled the public's uncertainty and resolve.
"We still do not know who did this or why," he said Monday at the White House. "But make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this, and we will find out who did this; we'll find out why they did this."
Two days later, the Senate rejected his gun-regulation package in a rebuke that could put his entire agenda at risk. "This was a pretty shameful day for Washington," Obama angrily declared in the Rose Garden after meeting privately with the parents of children slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.