President Obama is traveling to Tucson on Wednesday to attend a memorial service for the six people who died in the Arizona shooting, and to meet with the families of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who remains in critical condition, and other victims. On Monday, Obama asked Americans to observe a moment of silence. In Arizona, he is expected to make his first extended remarks on the tragedy. "Right now, the main thing we're doing is to offer our thoughts and prayers to those who have been impacted, making sure that we're joining together and pulling together as a country," Obama said. Can the president soothe the victims and the nation after the gunman's rampage?
Obama should turn tragedy into triumph: Now is the time for Obama to show real leadership, says Jonathan Alter in Newsweek. After the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, then-president Bill Clinton was more than "griever-in-chief" — he used the tragedy to "discredit the militia movement and tamp down hate speech on talk radio," and to restore his own fortunes after disastrous midterms. Obama, too, can "help the country heal." If the president demands an end to the "climate of incivility" in our politics, maybe "something positive can come from this" — for his presidency and for the nation.
"Can Obama turn tragedy into triumph?"
The president has a delicate job ahead: "All this talk of political violence against liberals had to be rattling around in the corners of that young man's brain," says Michael Tomasky in Britain's Guardian, but that doesn't make this rampage analogous to the Oklahoma City bombing, which was clearly the work of a "fringe right-wing terrorist." It will be difficult for Obama to both denounce "violent rhetoric" and bring the country together. No matter how carefully he chooses his words, he's bound to "absolutely infuriate a third of the country" — the hard Right — and make those in the middle third who have soured on him think he's indicting them, too.
"What should Obama do?"
To heal us, Obama must keep politics out of it: This is a time for leadership, but not partisan leadership, says Gerald F. Seib in The Wall Street Journal. "House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama both have shown in their temperate remarks since the Arizona shooting that they understand this." What we need is "a civilized discussion about civility." Americans are suffering economically, and now their sadness has deepened — so the president should focus on making "the country feel better," not scoring "political points."
"President Obama as Americans' Counselor in Chief"