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.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    81.Bringing Heat
    80. "Peace is in the hands of individuals

    Ignore Team America, onward Christian Soldiers mindset and love all equally

    Governments, Religions, Politicians always lie to sell us short"

    I do appreciate your idealism, and agree with some of your points, but it's not working. By the way, which philosophers have influenced you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    77.Bringing Heat

    How can America make peace in the world?

    Ceasing wars and arm manufacture sales would be a good start
    US does not conduct any wars now.

    It's in a process of reducing its nuclear&missile arsenal by 50%.

    It's staunchly supported a UN treaty to ban arms sales to all rogue states and terrorist outfits.

    The only objectors to it being: Iran, N. Korea and Syria.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    Marie: upbringing shld be detailed

    One report said that before coming to America as refugees after 9/11
    they went to hardliner Islamic schools in Chechya

    They may have been brought here to be sleeper cells

    Its Islamic extremists way of saying whether its extremist Muslims in Russia or extremist Muslims in Middle East, their extremism is united
    against the world

  • Comment number 81.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    77.Bringing Heat
    Humanity, as we currently know it, will have to disappear from the face of the earth, before there will be peace-- it's not in the providence of the United States, the UN, or any human agency (unless you consider Aldous Huxley's fictitous vision outlined in "Brave New World".

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.


    IF any system goes so far beyond as to contradict 'basic faith', that accessible to all @38,49, wise to advise: "Don't believe all you believe in! Likely, you are misinformed!"

    Every law helps, but full knowledge - from certain to probabilistic, from physical through sociological to moral - is of course not essential for emergence, in reflection & imagination, of equal partnership

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    In these cases: No privacy. Their upbringing shld be detailed & lessons disseminated to the public. You can’t have a boy w a mental disorder & handle it by yourself (Adam Lanza) or just w meds. You can’t be narcissistic/absent/ignore a kid who is rebelling or lost. The cases shld be an example the public can learn from. To those against blaming the parents: Of course. In most cases, who else?

  • Comment number 77.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    72. Latitude Infinity
    One comment by BH needs comment. European colonists believed the natives were selling them land, whereas the natives did not understand land ownership and thought they were being given gifts. From this mistake, mutual recrimination led to the Indian wars. Quebec colonists avoided this problem, intermarried and blended with the natives. The problem is global.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    Well no one thought they would be Chechen!

    But many did think Boston bombs were done by Islamic extremists from foreign country
    which turned out to be true

    Apparently they moved here as refugees after 9/11

    Ironic this happening right before the immigration reform bill

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    43 Chris London ‘[Obama] promised so much but has only made GWB look a (sic) good....’

    Obama has achieved much, but he certainly hasn’t made GWB look good.

    He cannot do the impossible…

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    Obama expressed America's essential nature as a country that comes together, people help each other - this while everyday people are being shot, attacked, blown to bits; this while Senators have blocking bipartisan plan to support expanded background checks on firearms; this while banks are not lending in support of job creation...
    Obama was talking about America, right?

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Very true-- I have even seen it in workplaces, sometimes even in the same subsections of workplaces.

  • Comment number 71.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    66. Latitude Infinity
    I would not confine the description to African Americans or to gangs. From backwoods New England through Appalachia, the south and the rest of the country there are pockets of people who distrust outsiders and arm themselves against them. Patriotism in the US works against this and acts as a civilizing agency.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    67. Bringing Heat "Ignorance is responsible for many of the US government's mistakes worldwide"

    Or trying to deal with the mistakes of European powers who previously (and often brutally) exploited many parts of the world-- like "Indo China".

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    #50 Sieuarlu

    In the coming weeks , you will see that we are not so noble as you think.
    The denagogues will be out in full force. There will be screams as to how the terrorists got legal residency. Immigration reform will be dead. The NRNRA will out there screaming how more guns would have prevented the situation.

  • Comment number 67.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

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

    True, I knew people from Lebanon back in the 90's who said that somebody could be run off or worse just because they were from another neighborhood. Then you hear in the news that in Chicago, a black kid gets killed for taking a short cut home through another black neighborhood.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    "]M M: "As we don't know who carried out this act"

    Tamerlan Tsarnaev (now dead) and his borther Dzhohar Tsarnaev.

    With Moscow claiming it has no knowlege of either one.


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