It was a very different Obama who took the stage at the Newtown memorial Sunday, a president not just saddened by the tragedy but fed up with the lack of forward movement in hopes of preventing the next one.
One sentence in Obama’s speech sums up his state of mind. “I’ll use whatever power this office holds…in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this,” he said — a line the incumbent never came close to uttering in Aurora or, before that, in Tucson in 2011.
What Obama’s speech seemed to signal is that, at least in his mind, a tipping point has been reached — that the slaughter of 20 first graders should not be soon forgotten, that it should mean something.
His critics will note that he offered no specifics as to where he would hope to change laws on guns and that his speech in Newtown, unlike the address in Aurora, came after his second term was assured and he knew he would never need to stand for election again.
Both facts are true. But neither subtract from the fact that Obama could have very easily delivered a speech heavy on empathy and light on anything in the way of a call to action. That he chose to go in a very different direction is a telling indication of his commitment to try to make something happen on gun laws.
Obama’s speech Sunday night could be summed up in three words: Enough is enough. Now, can he lead a divided nation to see things his way?
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