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Obama agenda: On last night's speech

The Washington Post writes, “President Obama comforted a community suffused with grief and summoned the nation to recommit to a more civil public discourse as he delivered a eulogy Wednesday evening urging Americans to talk with each other ‘in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.’”

The Boston Globe’s front page: “Obama’s message is heal, unite, ‘be better.’”

The Wall Street Journal: "The president chose to dwell on the heroes of Saturday, and the victims of the violence -- especially nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green -- as he urged the nation to rise above ugly political debates and see civic life 'through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol' of adults."

"The president directly confronted the political debate that erupted after the rampage, urging people of all beliefs not to use the tragedy to turn on one another. He did not cast blame on Republicans or Democrats, but asked people to 'sharpen our instincts for empathy,'" the New York Times adds. 'It was one of the more powerful addresses that Mr. Obama has delivered as president, harnessing the emotion generated by the shock and loss from Saturday’s shootings to urge Americans 'to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully’ and to “remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together.'"

The New York Times' Nagourney observes that last night's speech presented Obama this challenge that Bill Clinton didn't have with the Oklahoma City bombing or George W. Bush with 9/11: that the Arizona shootings had actually inflamed some political passions. "It was a political reality Mr. Obama seemed to recognize the moment he took the stage. And it was one he seemed determine to address, with language that recalled a central part of Mr. Obama’s appeal as a presidential candidate in 2008."

Politico’s Martin: "In the span of a single news cycle, Republicans got a jarring reminder of two forces that could prevent them from retaking the presidency next year. At sunrise in the east on Wednesday, Sarah Palin demonstrated that she has little interest -- or capacity -- in moving beyond her brand of grievance-based politics. And at sundown in the west, Barack Obama reminded even his critics of his ability to rally disparate Americans around a message of reconciliation."

The New York Post’s cover: “Gabby opens eyes.” The Post’s story called it a “stirring plea for national unity.”

The New York Daily News’ cover: “Hope amid tears” with a photo of First Lady Michelle Obama holding hands with Congresswoman Giffords’ husband Mike Kelly.

The Hill: “The White House has disappointed gun-control advocates on and off Capitol Hill with its silence on the issue.”

“Americans gave higher marks to President Obama and congressional Republicans after a holiday season of compromise paid dividends for both, according to the latest Associated Press-GfK poll,” AP reports. “At the start of the divided government era, the survey found 53 percent of Americans approve of how Obama is doing his job, up 6 percentage points from just after the November elections. The rating is his best since the divisive health care vote 10 months ago. Republicans in Congress got a slight bump too, with 36 percent giving them high marks, compared with 29 percent last fall. … But a majority also now view the Democrats favorably, an oddity just two months after voters dealt Obama’s party what he called ‘a shellacking’ in congressional elections. Democrats generally viewed by 53 percent of those polled, with 45 percent holding an unfavorable view.”

“The federal budget deficit narrowed slightly in December compared with a year ago, but the deficit for the entire fiscal year is still on pace to exceed $1 trillion,” AP writes. But, “Private economists expect that the tax-cut package signed into law last month will lead to a much larger deficit while helping to boost economic growth.”