I took time out last night to re-read Barack Obama’s extraordinary 12 January Tuscon, Arizona, speech. Doubts about whether Obama was able to empathise that first surfaced during his campaign for the White House have lingered. But this speech will surely have put those doubts to rest for a long while, if not forever. It was one out of the top drawer, as was his delivery (watch here). His tributes to the dead, coloured with affectionate personal detail, were clearly heartfelt and deeply moving. But his reflections on what could and should be learnt from the tragedy and the way in which he argued against prejudice and sought to heal the wounds in the American psyche were marks of the great President that I believe Obama will become. His obvious affection for the common Americans whose lives he briefly described – both the victims and their relations and the everyday heroes (‘heroism is here, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, all around us, just waiting to be summoned – as it was on Saturday morning’) – were the marks of one who, as Dreams From my Father vividly attested, happily worked among them in what was to become an apprenticeship for greater things.