When an American president is called upon to address the nation at a time of national tragedy, his remarks are often a reflection of what the man is really made of. His words (often carefully constructed, debated and discussed) reveal the priorities and world view of our country’s chief executive. The remarks can be a window into our leader’s soul.

President Barack Obama’s remarks following the terror attack in Orlando early Sunday morning certainly sent the American people a clear message into his priorities and they deserve some reflection and analysis.

The entire transcript is found at the bottom of this post, but I’d like to focus on a couple head-scratchers. First, and foremost, the president appropriately invoked God and prayer toward the end of his remarks: (emphasis mine)

Say a prayer for them and say a prayer for their families — that God give them the strength to bear the unbearable. And that He give us all the strength to be there for them, and the strength and courage to change.

He is suggesting “we” pray to God and ask Him to grant us “the strength and courage to change”?

Normally this would be the easiest part of the speech to hear. It’s what so many of us have in common. It’s something we can all relate to. It’s the thought and action that so many of us instinctively had so it’s a thing that can serve to bring all Americans together. 

This is why what he chose to say about God and prayer was so incredibly destructive.

Who, exactly is he talking about? What “change” is he invoking God’s intervention and assistance for?

Did any American hear about the fact that an American Muslim, born of Afghan refugees, who pledged allegiance to ISIS and slaughtered a multitude of innocent Americans and then think to themselves, “Gee, I sure which God grants me the strength and courage to change, in light of this evil act.”?

Why should the hundreds of millions of Americans who are tolerant, peaceful and life-affirming be required to change?

Unless the change he is talking about is a change to our gun laws. And, if that is the case, it’s a rather offensive invocation of God’s intervention, wouldn’t you say?

Which brings us, sadly, to the president’s call to action on second amendment restrictions:

Today marks the most deadly shooting in American history.  The shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and a powerful assault rifle.  This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub.  And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be.  And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.

President Obama’s lamentation’s about “how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon” is prefaced by the historically significant data point that the Orlando massacre represents the “most deadly shooting in American history.”

But, didn’t this attack also hold a couple other historically significant and distinguishing characteristics?

This was the deadliest terror attack on American soil since the attacks of September 11th.  It was also the deadliest attack against Americans carried out in the name of ISIS.

Couldn’t the president have used this attack to focus on his policies, strategies  and tactics in the war on terror? Why didn’t the president call for additional action against ISIS, a group of terrorists he once referred to as a “JV squad”?

Is it possible that focusing on access to guns is merely a distraction from the president’s own failures as Commander-in-Chief in the war on terror and his inability to stem the rising threat ISIS poses to innocent Americans on our soil? Is it possible that “Bin Laden is dead and Al Qaeda is on the run” is seriously undermined by the very real fact that we are more vulnerable to a deadly terror attack now than ever before?

The questions answer themselves.

Here are the president’s full remarks:

Today, as Americans, we grieve the brutal murder — a horrific massacre — of dozens of innocent people.  We pray for their families, who are grasping for answers with broken hearts.  We stand with the people of Orlando, who have endured a terrible attack on their city.  Although it’s still early in the investigation, we know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate.  And as Americans, we are united in grief, in outrage, and in resolve to defend our people.

I just finished a meeting with FBI Director Comey and my homeland security and national security advisors.  The FBI is on the scene and leading the investigation, in partnership with local law enforcement.  I’ve directed that the full resources of the federal government be made available for this investigation.

We are still learning all the facts.  This is an open investigation.  We’ve reached no definitive judgment on the precise motivations of the killer.  The FBI is appropriately investigating this as an act of terrorism.  And I’ve directed that we must spare no effort to determine what — if any — inspiration or association this killer may have had with terrorist groups.  What is clear is that he was a person filled with hatred.  Over the coming days, we’ll uncover why and how this happened, and we will go wherever the facts lead us.

This morning I spoke with my good friend, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and I conveyed the condolences of the entire American people.  This could have been any one of our communities.  So I told Mayor Dyer that whatever help he and the people of Orlando need — they are going to get it.  As a country, we will be there for the people of Orlando today, tomorrow and for all the days to come.

We also express our profound gratitude to all the police and first responders who rushed into harm’s way.  Their courage and professionalism saved lives, and kept the carnage from being even worse.  It’s the kind of sacrifice that our law enforcement professionals make every single day for all of us, and we can never thank them enough.

This is an especially heartbreaking day for all our friends — our fellow Americans — who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.  The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live.  The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub — it is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights.

So this is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American — regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation — is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country.  And no act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans.

Today marks the most deadly shooting in American history.  The shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and a powerful assault rifle.  This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub.  And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be.  And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.

In the coming hours and days, we’ll learn about the victims of this tragedy.  Their names.  Their faces.  Who they were.  The joy that they brought to families and to friends, and the difference that they made in this world.  Say a prayer for them and say a prayer for their families — that God give them the strength to bear the unbearable.  And that He give us all the strength to be there for them, and the strength and courage to change.  We need to demonstrate that we are defined more — as a country — by the way they lived their lives than by the hate of the man who took them from us.

As we go together, we will draw inspiration from heroic and selfless acts — friends who helped friends, took care of each other and saved lives.  In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another.  We will not give in to fear or turn against each other.  Instead, we will stand united, as Americans, to protect our people, and defend our nation, and to take action against those who threaten us.

May God bless the Americans we lost this morning.  May He comfort their families.  May God continue to watch over this country that we love.  Thank you.

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