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 Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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  • Comment number 204.

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

  • Comment number 203.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    Bringing Heat @198
    "below average zeroes"
    Need leadership, from best debate
    In necessary humility even from "above average"
    All of us 'less than angels', all born in need
    Not least of equal partnership
    Context for being our best

    Really, no 'Americans', or 'Muslims', just individuals and 'God or Cosmos'

    (Except in sweeping tracts, screenplays, computer-games, and forced 'mobilisations')

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    Silentmajority,do you really think that americans are any less extremists? look at yourselves,two pressure cooker home made bombs by two american kids which killed 3 people, and you all are against Iran, if thats not extremism then nothing is..If your media had shown you destruction caused by american bombing and droning the same way it shows this cooker bombing, americans wouldnt be over reacting

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    196. colonelartist
    "North Korea...convincing each other that N koreans dont have nuclear weapons"

    Hmm! Never heard that one before, even after their last test!

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    "North Korea is boldly threatening usa with a nuclear attack"
    The unedited version states that "NK will retaliate if attacked." I think this is just systematic of the self preservation mode NK adopted after the country was levelled post WW2.

  • Comment number 198.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    ref #188
    Europeans stealing land does not male a country civilised,
    It was Palestinian land, If Israelis can't treat Palestinians equally they should move and go along
    It was never stolen. The nbaka is a lie and the Palestinians are an invented people

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    North Korea is boldly threatening usa with a nuclear attack, and american in chief is all silent, his countryfellows convincing each other that N koreans dont have nuclear weapons, Iran has never threatened usa, it denies having nuclear weapons, but the americans and their chief are scared of it and insist it has such weapons....

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    BH @182
    "not a crime"
    Except to other religions
    And in educational abuse

    No religionist should take comfort in might, past, present, 'demographic'

    Even most frightened, aggressive, self-important, concede truth vital, its revelation or discovery 'of God or Cosmos'

    Whatever wars kept up, & flags kept flying, 'revelation' of common shareable faith (in existence & caring) will confound the mighty

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    189. colonelartist
    "Forget Iran, do something about North Korea which is boldly threatening to use them against usa."

    They both function with the same mentality in leadership. However Iran should be of concern because of their religious extremism and willingness to support and export that extremism, while their people suffer!

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    "To be slipped into the western infidel countries if they won't convert!"
    Iran is one of the oldest civilizations on earth,I think they'll want to keep it that way.Persian culture is not unknown to me & my evaluation is that they would make for good exponents of Mutually Assured Destruction. Then we can stop starving them, as that can be construed as an act of war I believe

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    Iran is a petrodollar threat - we need to manufacture hysteria to provide a pretext for regime change - this is a job for Fox News.

    Still baffled by the fact that all the Islamaphobes can't or won't condemn their own country for arming Saudi - a country which exports Jihad.


  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    So it's WMD's again ! I thought after Bush's lies that that argument was dead.

    As for nuclear weapons - the only country that ever used these dreadful things was America destroying 2 undefended cities without allowing the people time to leave and causing dreadful birth defects for generations.

    I can understand why fear of retaliation even after all these years is real.

  • Comment number 190.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    186, ussilentmajority, Just because USA and european countries sold, gave and donated their extras to Israel, doesnt mean that Iranians would do the same..Ban the pressure cookers first because in reality it was the pressure cookers that killed three people not nuclear weapons..which usa has plenty..Forget Iran, do something about North Korea which is boldly threatening to use them against usa.

  • Comment number 188.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    Its unrealistic to even think that a country which is behind the chaos in every moslem country since 2001 would remain free of terrorist attack of some kind or another.Obama the commander in chief,mouner in chief and droner in chief should show that well hidden pragmatism.He sounds more and more like a boring dry and dull govt paid lawyer who makes judge and jury go to sleep during his arguments.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    181. kane
    "Iran with nuclear weapons?... the world may be a safer place when Iran do have them :)."

    Interesting thought! Then they could simply sell/give/donate their extra to the Islamic world at large. To be slipped into the western infidel countries if they won't convert!

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    Just checking that people are after Islam and Obama the droner, like Bush the war monger, is telling the americans that they dont know why someone would carry such thing on american soil.


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