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Reviews for the president's speech: This is the Obama we fell in love with

January 13, 2011 |  9:51 am

A moving performance:

We’ve been complaining for two years about the lack of music and passion in his big speeches. But if he’d moved the country when he was talking about healthcare or bailing out the auto industry, perhaps his words wouldn’t have been as powerful as they were when he was trying to lift the country up after the tragedy in Tucson.

“Our hearts are broken, and yet our hearts also have reason for fullness,” he said, in a call to action that finally moved the nation’s focus forward.  -- Gail Collins, the New York Times

This is the Obama we fell in love with:

 Barack Obama found his voice Wednesday night, the one the country fell in love with in ’08. Gone was the stiff, sober professor, and here was the president we’ve been yearning for, a man who understands the cadences of the heart along with the complexities of the tragedy that brought him to the stadium at the University of Arizona. The memorial service at times seemed more like a pep rally, and as the president invoked the lives of each of the fallen along with the many heroes that emerged from the shooting, smiles soon overtook the tears, and a spirit of unity and optimism took hold. -- Eleanor Clift, the Daily Beast

Powerful and uplifting:

It is a president’s responsibility to salve a national wound. President Obama did that on Wednesday evening at the memorial service in Tucson for the six people who died in last weekend’s terrible shooting. It was one of his most powerful and uplifting speeches. -- The New York Times editorial board


The most touching parts of the speech, for me, came near the end, when he talked about how families react on losing a parent or a spouse -- when he said that "in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame -- but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better." -- Eugene Robinson, the Washington Post

Worthy of applause:

The president did not ask us to put away passion but to act with restraint. It was not a call to stop fighting but to stop fighting dirty. He didn't just issue orders. By holding up the examples of the lives well lived -- and worthy of the applause they received -- he hoped to draw us to the lesson. The president was a speaker, but he was also a participant. "They help me believe," he said. Later, referring to Christina Taylor Green, he said: "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." -- John Dickerson, Slate

One star:

True, as always, he delivered as “Healer-in-Chief” and provided inspiration. This was Job 1 for the speech.


But there was another job: shutting down the nonsense about how Sarah Palin or right-wing talkers caused the shooting. This matters not only because it’s important to tell the truth, but also because it would set the stage to move on to really examining the true causes of this nightmare massacre.


Obama chided Americans to “be better,” as if we somehow caused this shooting to happen. -- Kirsten Powers, the Daily Beast

Thumbs down:

I am watching Obama give what appears to be a campaign speech in Arizona. Call me old fashioned, but the Arizona memorial event was more like a sporting event than a memorial service. The wolf whistles, the whooping and hollerin' for Obama, Big Sis Napolitano, Holder (?) et al is making my skin crawl. -- Conservative author Pamela Geller [via Rachel Maddow]

-- Alexandra Le Tellier

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