Even more photos

This time coming from his awesomeness Pete Souza.

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BTW, posting this video again, because if you plan to watch this speech and that event again – please watch *this* version. It’s so much better than all the others. Terrific close-ups. The president basically had tears in his eyes throughout. It’s amazing.

The President’s Speech

 Hi guys,

I could hardly sleep last night. I have so much to say, so many emotions running inside me, not showing any sign of letting up. I’ll just say this – and I know its going to sound over the top – but here’s what i feel this morning:

When god is dreaming about the perfectly-imperfect human being, when god is looking for one man to be his messenger of love and hope and empathy and forgiveness and clear eyes and full heart, when god is painting a beautiful man – he’s looking at a picture of Barack Obama.

Here’s the speech (like you didn’t watch it twice already…), but I recommend that you’ll watch the second and long clip for the wonderful standing ovations, for the gorgeous love of Michelle – for the wonder of one of the most beautiful events in many many years.

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 The Guardian: Barack Obama’s Tucson speech rose to the moment and transcended it

….For the address he gave at last night’s memorial service for the victims of the Arizona shootings was elegiac, heartfelt and deeply moving. It both rose to the moment and transcended it: after days of noise and rancour, he carved out a moment of calm.

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Obama looks the bigger man, calling for a discourse that heals not wounds. That puts him in the place all presidents covet: above the fray, beyond mere Democrat or Republican. The challenge will be to maintain that position into the re-election year of 2012.

But such thoughts are for later. What will be remembered today are moments like those when he told his audience that Gabrielle Giffords had opened her eyes for the first time – moments when only the most cold-hearted would not have felt a tear. What we saw from Obama in Tucson will be a defining, even cherished moment in his presidency.

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Chicago Tribune: Obama’s speech shows why he was elected

We all know that Barack Obama could have had a pretty good career as a law professor, a writer or a state legislator. What had never occurred to me before is that he might have made a good pastor.

His remarks at the memorial service in Tucson — steeped in emotion, infused with wisdom, animated by a generous spirit — were exactly what his shocked, grieving countrymen needed to hear. They were consoling, they were cathartic and they were inspiring. 

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Andrew Sullivan:

To rate this address on any political meter would be to demean it. The president wrested free of politics tonight and spoke of greater things. I pledge myself to try and follow his advice and debate with vigor and spirit and candor and bluntness, but with more civility, more empathy, and, yes, more love.

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Benen:

 I know how easy it is to be cynical, and look back at 2008 and the use of the word “hope” as a shallow exercise, but listening to the president last night, I felt like this captured some of the magic of the more memorable Obama speeches. It was as uplifting as it was cathartic.

I suppose it’s only natural to consider what the lasting effects might be, if any, in the wake of remarks like these. And as nice as it is to think Americans who heard the president’s words will take his guidance to heart, I don’t seriously expect the country to turn over a new, more thoughtful leaf.

But that almost certainly wasn’t the point. Obama was there to honor the victims of a tragedy, bring some comfort to their families and their community, and to urge the country to strive for better. He did just that, delivering a graceful message when his country needed to hear one.

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Gail Collins: Obama Brings It Home

Maybe President Obama was saving the magic for a time when we really needed it.

We’ve been complaining for two years about the lack of music and passion in his big speeches. But if he’d moved the country when he was talking about health care or bailing out the auto industry, perhaps his words wouldn’t have been as powerful as they were when he was trying to lift the country up after the tragedy in Tucson.

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NYT: One of his most powerful and uplifting speeches

It is a president’s responsibility to salve a national wound. President Obama did that on Wednesday evening at the memorial service in Tucson for the six people who died in last weekend’s terrible shooting. It was one of his most powerful and uplifting speeches.

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The president’s words were an important contrast to the ugliness that continues to swirl in some parts of the country. The accusation by Sarah Palin that “journalists and pundits” had committed a “blood libel” when they raised questions about overheated rhetoric was especially disturbing, given the grave meaning of that phrase in the history of the Jewish people.

Mr. Obama said that it must be possible for Americans to question each other’s ideas without questioning their love of country. We hope all of America’s leaders, and all Americans, will take that to heart.

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Joe Klien:

It was a remarkably personal speech, effortlessly sweeping away any notion of pomposity, over-intellectuality or distance. It was written and delivered in plain English. It summoned images, and emotions, that every American–even those who cannot countenance his legitimacy–could relate to and be moved by. His description of the victims was at the heart of it: Judge Roll went to mass every day. George and Dot Morris had a 50-year honeymoon. Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard lost their teenaged love and then regained it many years later. Phyllis Schneck sat quilting under her favorite tree. We all know them–and we know people like Daniel Hernandez, big and loyal and kindly, who would have stopped a bullet to save his boss, but saved her instead by tending to her wounds and begging her to hold on. Their ordinary decency, simply evoked, made the tragedy our own. Their simple nobility beggared the absurd screech of the debate surrounding this terrible event. His appreciation of their humanity was an appeciation of our own.

And in summoning the community and the nation and the Congresswoman that Christine Taylor Green imagined we are, he summoned for us the country that we should be. On this night. certainly, he was the President she–and we–imagined he might be. On this night, finally, he became President of all the people. It was a privilege to behold.

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Joan Walsh: One nation, as good as it gets

President Obama, Daniel Hernandez and a Tucson crowd remind us that e pluribus unum still makes sense.

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