Obama spoke movingly of the unique experience of parenting through a tragic moment and the concept that Americans have to "change" to prevent future senseless shootings "because what other choice do we have?"
At first, Obama's words appeared sympathetic to those who want enhanced gun-control laws in the wake of Friday's massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School: "We cannot tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end, and to end them we must change."
The word "change" rang out singularly, piquing the hopeful ears of gun-control advocates and people looking for Obama to offer more leadership than can be contained within prayerful words of remembrance and the promise of amorphous discussions with mental-health professionals, parents, and educators.
But, by the close of his speech, he had once again failed to present any real ideas about how to address the metastasizing problem of random gun violence -- slaughters, really -- in the U.S.
As Obama mentioned, he has personally visited and consoled four communities struck by gun violence in the past four years, and there have been many hundreds of murders in between, yet gun control has no champion in the president.
Obama has at times been publicly supportive of certain gun-control laws since he was an Illinois state senator, and he supported reinstating the federal assault-weapon ban that lapsed under President George W. Bush and requiring gun-show background checks during his 2008 campaign for the presidency.
And yet, now, in the wake of one of the most gut-wrenching American tragedies since 9/11, he again declines to make any kind of stand, fails to express even a stance on whether it means we need to tighten gun laws.
His repeated references to God and Jesus made his speech more yet another pious elegy than a meaningful address worthy of interrupting Sunday Night Football.
Some will say this isn't the time to inflame the gun-rights advocates and cause a national furor over the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment. But there have been too many shootings. This was his moment to take the lead he needs to take. Whatever his course, he cannot just continue to avoid the issues, as he did tonight, and in Aurora, Colo., and in Tucson, Ariz.
The causes of these slaughters are a national travesty Obama is still unwilling to touch. As he continues to dither, our children will likely continue to die at the hands of random shooters.
The issue of gun violence is at the forefront of the American discussion in a way it hasn't been since the 1990s: The news cycle didn't shift all weekend. He had prime time during the San Francisco 49ers-New England Patriots game, and he just offered healing.
Healing isn't working anymore. We need leadership.