President Obama's speech on Wednesday evening had all the elements: a subject of national concern, a setting of family and famous, including the astronaut husband of the critically wounded congresswoman, the president's wife and a former Supreme Court justice. A native American offered prayers, a genuine hero who came to the aid of Gabrielle Giffords spoke briefly before the president did, and a full hall of mostly young Arizonians was a supportive audience.
Obama has proven his skills at oratory, yet sometimes he has seemed academic, or too cool. But at this time and this place it all came together.
And the reason it did, I feel, is that the speech was authentic.
Not once during the minutes Barack Obama spoke of the murders and the loss did I ever feel that this speech had an agenda other than to honor those who died, and to use their sad deaths to spur us to become a better country.
Hyperbole was minimal. The people he described came across as real people of all ages and types. We could identify with the loss as he compared them to our family members.
Obama's masterful tribute to the child who died was especially sensitive. He returned to Christina Taylor Green three times, and ended with an image of her, jumping puddles in heaven, calling upon us to do right for her and for the children of our country.
Any of us who have loved a child, including this president who has two young daughters, could feel that call to action deep within us.
There was no talk of blame, or political issue. Compared to the speech given earlier that day by a self-centered woman who chose to play a victim on a day of honoring the innocent victims of a gunman, Obama's speech inspired us with empathy.
The very thing that so many of us have been frustrated with in the past two years, Obama's almost constant refusal to blame those who have vilified him, helped make this speech soar with hope in a time of mourning. He reminded us that he is a good man. And he reminded us that America is full of good people.
His message all along has been to come together as a nation. And last night, at a time of national mourning, the message rang true.