Thursday, September 18, 2014
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Dad-in-chief

On Obama's speech

Dad-in-chief

She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model.  She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted. I want to live up to her expectations.  I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it.  I want America to be as good as she imagined it. All of us -– we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.

-- Barack Obama, Tucson, Ariz., January 12, 2011.

President Obama's speech worked so well last night because he looked into the eyes of America and talked to us not as the head of an oversized bureaucracy in Washington or the commander-in-chief of the world's strongest military -- but simply as the dad of two little girls not much older than 9-year-old murder victim Christina Green, and someone who could understand and share the enormity of that loss.

It was the finest moment of his presidency, so far.

This is part of the job of president -- "consoler-in-chief," as so many said yesterday -- and it is a task our leaders are called to perform all too often. Now, it is back to Washington, and the less emotional part of his job, running the United States government. In addition to the many things that were already on his plate -- "jobs" springs to mind, for example -- he will be tasked with making some real world sense of this, and how tragedy can translate into better policies on everything from guns to mental health care. When he does that, and he will, I hope he tackles it with the values on display for the world last night.

The values of a dad.

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