After a brief absence, he’s back: President Barack Obama’s Tucson Speech signified the President’s return to that full-power greatness we’d not seen in a long while.
Obama’s return started just before the end of Congress’ last term, then in 2011 was growing. But it took the tragedy that was the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others to bring it to full strength.
The “it” is Barack Obama’s unique ability to tap into the collective conscience of America at the very time it matters most.
Obama did it with the “Race Speech: A More Perfect Union” in 2008, where then-Senator Obama, faced with a racist element in his own campaign that he had to bring under control, talked to America about race from his place as a bi-racial American.
Obama did it again in his first State Of The Union Speech, and yet again, in the first major speech delivered to the Muslim nations by a sitting President of The United States. Faced with overwhelming odds, and more often than not, a spot you couldn’t send to the cleaners, President Obama delivered. And in doing so, again and again, reminded us of our own humanity.
When I first heard the Obama Tucson Speech, I’d just walked in and turned on the TV set. The President was in the middle of his speech, and the crowd at the University of Arizona was just plain into it. So much so, that I was drawn in, in just seconds. The American Family was at the TV set, listening to our leader of the free World.
Obama spoke with such coiled emotional power it seemed as if he was trying to avoid crying. That feeling came through the TV set and into my living room. If you weren’t moved by that speech, you were either not human or jealous that Obama didn’t pick you to be in his administration.
I get that feeling from CNN’s David Gergen, an advisor to past presidents, including President Clinton, and who more often than not struggles to praise President Obama. Gergen tried to throw cold water on the impact of Obama’s speech, but ended up sounding like someone still smarting from not being in this President’s inner circle.
Gergen aside, everyone liberal and conservative and in between praised Obama’s speech. “Obama Tucson Speech” is one of the stop searches on Google. And as we saw Obama walk with First Lady Michelle Obama to Air Force One, he bounded up the steps to the plane with a new energy and purpose.
He heeled America, and he knew it.
President Obama is back.