January 12th, 2011
12:06 PM ET

Speeches to nation in shock meant to comfort, move country forward

Kristi Keck

(CNN) - President Obama on Wednesday will assume the delicate role of comforting a nation still in shock in the aftermath of the Arizona shootings while also transcending the tragedy to move a grieving nation forward.

As difficult and unique as the task may be, Obama needs to look no further than his role model Ronald Reagan and his Democratic predecessor Bill Clinton for a lesson in how to console the country.

Both presidents were praised for the leadership they showed in the aftermath of two domestic disasters - the Challenger explosion in 1986 and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

"This is Obama's Challenger-Oklahoma City moment," presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said.

Reagan and Clinton each paid tribute to the victims, gave support to the survivors and struck a tone of healing, as Obama will likely do when he speaks at the memorial service at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Were you affected by the shootings? Share your memories, tributes

The White House hasn't released details of what the president will say except that he will devote most of his remarks to memorializing the victims. A 9-year-old girl, a federal judge and four others were killed in the weekend shooting. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords remains in critical condition after being shot in the head.

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soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Lenn

    01-13-11 5:10AM PST

    Anderson – Some, on your tonight's panel, were soo out-of-touch. They should get out of DC once in a while. I applaud Pres. Obama. He came as the Comforter-In-Chief and he did just that. We needed healing, so we cheered. Paul got it right, David didn't. The President was not define his presidency. He did not have to. If anything, he was, to me, defining the
    compassion of a community and of a nation,

    January 13, 2011 at 7:32 am |
  2. patrick mork

    Obama's speech was deem and profound but it still misses a wider point – which probably he doesn't want deal with in this particular context – gun control.

    Part of the problem continues to be the US's lax gun control laws which not only allow nut cases like this to kill innocent people but also kills thousands per year and continues to be a large source of the narco-violence in Mexico.

    When is the US going to enter the 21st century with some realistic gun control laws which are inline with today's realities as opposed to those of the War of Independence?


    January 13, 2011 at 2:44 am |
  3. Dee

    President Obama's speech to our country regarding the the Arizona calamity was wonderful,uplifting and consoling. To those who are complaining about the non-traditional tone need to look past thier limited cultural experiences. They have obviously never attended, seen or heard an African American "Home Going Service! " As an African American, I must tell you that our memorials we focus on the celebration of the deceased's life! In fact in New Orleans a band marches o the church is a sorrowful dredge. On the way from the ceremony the music of the funeral courtage is joyous and uplifting because the deceased is in in a better place, heaven. Perhaps, this country should be more accepting to the multi-cultural aspects of our country's traditions and customs.

    January 13, 2011 at 1:08 am |
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