Monday, December 17, 2012
It is one of the duties of a leader to console those who are grieving. That was the task President Obama undertook last night in Newtown, CT. There is no perfect way to help people who are suffering. Words are a temporary balm for ache that continues day and night. Yet, words have a role to help lift minds from personal suffering to a wider community of sorrow, and in community, there is strength. President Obama's remarks last night were good and to the point. They didn't rise to the heights of oratory, but they didn't need to. His presence was enough to demonstrate to the people of Newtown that the nation cared. It was visible leadership, the same presence that was important recently during the hurricane that savaged the New York-New Jersey area. People want to know their leaders care, have taken charge and will act on their behalf. Obama accomplished that even with vague statements that something must be done. There was a good reason for him to keep his remarks general. It might be too early for him to know what he can do by executive order, and there is a powerful lobby arrayed against anything he might consider. Consoler-in-chief is a difficult public role, but no leader is exempt from the horrors of life.