Andrea Mitchell   |  January 13, 2011

Heilemann: Green's life ended by 'political violence'

New York Magazine’s John Heilemann and NBC's Andrea Mitchell discuss the significance of the 9/11 flag being used for Tucson victim, Christina Green's, funeral.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> me from new york magazine. it's very difficult for political figures to cross the divide in a moment like this without being seen as being exploitive, there is a role as mourner in chief and the president really stepped into that.

>> he did. the speech was in his house in a couple of different ways. one was that he's very good at -- in that place, that post partisan place. this was his metier in 2004 , 2008 , found his way back to that. it's also true that he was able to do something very smart, i think, by talking only about the present and the future. he was able to avoid talking about the past and talking about whether the climate, anything that's happened over the past two years. this was all about, what are we going to do going forward. that allowed him to in a lot of ways avoid the debate that's happened in the last five days and allowed him to talk in a general way that made the right think that he was in fact admonishing the left and the left think that in fact he was admonishing the right. people were able to take away the right message no matter when they sat on spectrum. that was a smart thing to do, to not refer backwards at all.

>> talking about christina, about a 9-year-old child struck down as she was trying to participate in politics. this was a kid who just been elected to elementary school office and wanted to meet her congresswoman and susie, the neighbor brought her and is going through such terrible feelings of loss and guilt and everything else that her husband described. what better way to refocus our attention than to talk about living up to -- we see the flag being raised. living up to the aspirations of the child, the magic of the child.

>> the phrase that stood out was grounded in those victims, when he talked about expanding our moral imaginations. that is the kind of phrase that very few democrats or republicans in national life today could use that phrase in the way he did and have people hear it in the right way. grounding the speech not in politics but in a moral imperative to act in a better way in honor of the people who have lost their lives. very powerful. there's not very many people that can have this -- highly pitched type of rhetoric. you have to be a person who is seen as being intellectually serious to say that and not have people laugh at you. the president by grounding this speech in that second of secular morality, not a religious things although he ulsed a lot of scripture. that gave the speech its kind of weight and made it something that both sides could embrace as they almost entirely have. it's kind of extraordinary that there's almost no one on the right who did not in fact applaud the president for his speech and supporters on the left did too.

>> the significance of course, of the 9/11 flag, this is a child born on 9/11, included in a book of remembrances about these children, the innocence of birth as a counter point to the horror of 9/11 that we all live through. for her to be slain in this massacre, is beyond beyond horrible irony.

>> it really is. in a lot of ways. it's so sad to say this, this was a girl who's life was mark at the beginning and end by acts of unspeakable violence. it speaks to in general we have a peaceful democracy here in america and had it for a long time. but it's good to keep in mind, good reminder that in the very few years of this girl's life, she was -- her biography, book ended by violence and by political violence . i think even if we say that the shooter in arizona was not driven to this by the climate, the truth is he chose to shoot a congresswoman. did not choose to shoot a former employer or shoot someone at the school he had been kicked out of. he made this choice. i'm not psychologist but he is clearly a disturbed person. it made him fasten on a politician, born on the worst day of political violence in most of our lifetimes. and her life came crashing down in the most recent kind much atrocity that has -- marks a very disturbing, in some ways a very disturbing politics in our national life .

>> john heilemann. and the flag against that brilliant blue sky