America's mourner in chief

 
US President Barack Obama speaks during "Healing Our City: An Interfaith Service" dedicated to those who were gravely wounded or killed in the Boston Marathon bombing, at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, Massachusetts, 18 April 2013 "Your resolve is the greatest rebuke to whoever committed this heinous act," the president told the people of Boston

It is a grim part of the president's job to be mourner-in-chief, comforter-in-chief.

President Barack Obama did so after the shooting of Gabby Giffords and the murder of six others; he did so after the cinema shooting in Aurora, Colorado; and again after the murders of the children in Newtown.

But this was the first time he has had to speak at such a service after an act of terrorism.

As we don't know who carried out this act, or why, it is not surprising that he had few words for the bomber or bombers themselves. He called them "small stunted individuals" and promised that they would face justice.

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In describing his US, he is also spelling out what he thinks it should be”

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Technically, it wasn't one of his most polished speeches. It had the feeling of a first draft, perhaps a little too heavy with imagery of marathon-running and sunshine. But that is hardly important.

His main purpose was to make America feel good about itself, and to make it see itself as the sort of nation that wouldn't lapse into fear in the face of such an attack.

No hint of being at war or under siege or standing firm in dark times. Instead a stress on Boston's spirit, with a few jokes thrown in, and an insistence that America cannot be, will not, be cowed.

As ever, Mr Obama expressed America's essential nature as a country that comes together, a people who help each other, who are there for each other.

"We know that somewhere around the bend, a stranger has a cup of water, around the bend, somebody is there to boost our spirits," he said.

"On that toughest mile, just when we think that we've hit a wall, someone will be there to cheer us on and pick us up if we fall."

Something like this is his most common refrain, a very familiar message, that America is about community, a country which looks after its own.

In describing his US, he is also spelling out what he thinks it should be.

But he also knows what he does not wish it to become. The president had to come here, had to help Boston heal, but he does not want the country dwelling and brooding on this one terrible attack.

 
Mark Mardell, North America editor Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 64.

    Whether it is real or perceived, presidents who are democrats come across as sincere & more sympathetic with the plight of average American than presidents who are republican. Clinton & Obama exemplify caring presidents. Perhaps, it has to do with their upbringing in non-privileged or elite family. Republicans on the other hand, are likely o tell the less fortunate:Tough luck, you're on your own!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 63.

    62. Latitude Infinity
    Political correctness, combined with limited knowledge, leads to posts like those of BH. When PC becomes policy it is dangerous. Ignorance of the tribal people in Central Asia is responsible for many of the US government's mistakes in that area.

    There are areas in the US that are also tribal, xenophobic, and without empathy for outsiders.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 62.

    53. Bringing Heat " Native Americans were wiped out by newbie Americans and all African Americans are African slave descendants.."

    Native American immigration policies weren't as progressive as ours in many cases, resulting in massacres of settlers, then wars. Africans were sold into slavery by other African tribes. Some in America became "Buffalo Soldiers" who fought Native Americans.

  • Comment number 61.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 60.

    If the war on terror includes dealing with 2 Russian/Chechan psychos hell bent on infamy, then the war on terror can't be won.

    There needs to be a clear indication of what is and what isn't terrorism.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 59.

    58. Bringing Heat
    You are the emotional, irrational one. I am an academic, and my observations are professional. I have much more experience and academic knowledge of this than you.

    There are also Americans [posting here] who seem "tribal" or xenophobic. Nation states still struggle to overcome ancient tribal tendencies, i.e. to civilize the people. These things happen in Balkans, too.

  • Comment number 58.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 57.

    55 "We don't shoot each other enough to have that golden opportunity."

    I suggest you get your money back for your incomplete history books and travel around Europe. It is endless graveyards of bodies of Europeans who died shooting each other after they figured out how to convert black powder used in Chinese ceremonial fireworks into weapons. Before that they used more primitive means.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 56.

    50.
    sieuarlu
    More than any other difference, this distinguishes the USA from the EU. Are Europeans like that? IMO no. Will they ever be? I don't think so. IMO it's not in their nature.
    --

    Once again your nonsensical anti European colours are on full show. Do you think the first responders in London and Madrid had to be told to help?

    What sort of mind can come up with such drivel.

    Truly pitiful

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 55.

    50sieuarlu
    "America truly is on nation indivisible. More than any other difference, this distinguishes the USA from the EU.Are Europeans like that? IMO no.Will they ever be? I don't think so.IMO it's not in their nature"
    We don't shoot each other enough to have that golden opportunity.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 54.

    53. Bringing Heat
    How far back do you want to go, Cain and Able or Homo Sapiens wiping out Neanderthal? Egypt being conquered in turn by Libyans, Ethiopians, Persians, Arabs, Britain? The Africans and Native Americans killed and enslaved each other.

    It is rather dim to cast blame when the correct action should be to reject revenge in favor of truth and reconciliation.

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 52.

    44. Bringing Heat
    My comment @42 is only "strange" if
    a. you have never spent any time in that part of the world
    b. you have not read much sociology, anthropology or history
    c. you are so PC that reality can not be allowed to intrude

    or indeed, a combination of the above.

  • Comment number 51.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 50.

    It times of trouble Americans come together to help each other any way they can like people of no other nation. They don't have to be told, they don't have to be asked. America truly is on nation indivisible. More than any other difference, this distinguishes the USA from the EU. Are Europeans like that? IMO no. Will they ever be? I don't think so. IMO it's not in their nature.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 49.

    Bringing Heat @41
    (no presidential issue)
    "There is one God"
    Or perhaps none
    Or many-faced
    Or just many
    But One Universe contains All

    It might be infinite
    And a 'multi-verse'
    But one thing certain, we are here!
    Facing 'universal laws'
    In maths and morals

    Our sharing, of existence and care, our prime insight
    Not to be sullied by 'artists impressions'
    Only to be KNOWN
    In AGREED Equal Partnership

  • Comment number 48.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 47.

    ref #46

    As I said you know where you can go.

    america is far more progressive than almost every nation in the world.

    we elected (as bad as a job as he has done) an African american President and his opponent was a morman.

  • Comment number 46.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 45.

    ref #39
    We do no that one of the suspect was Chechian and was a moslem. As per report 7 AM eastern time.

    I live in the area of the manhut and most of the people I have spoken to this week, feel anger.

    So those of you who want to lecture America on how this is our fault, you know where you can go

 

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