Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"Obama's West Point Speech"

That's what PBS News Hour host Jim Lehrer said history will call last night's presidential address. He was talking, post-speech, with his regular dueling pundits, liberal Mark Shields and conservative David Brooks, two people whose usually diverse reactions and opinions I value highly.

Both men are quick-witted, terribly smart, informed, thoughtful, non-reactive, take history more seriously then themselves, and both have fines senses of humor. And yet last night, both Mr. Shields and Mr. Brooks, usually fast on their verbal feet, seemed to me to want time to ponder what our President had said before they offered their full analysis of it.

So did I.

Afghanistan is Afghanistan is Afghanistan; history's savagely recurring problem.

This morning I saw in the NY Times that Republicans had reacted with cautious support to Obama's address while Democrats remained skeptical. The Times editorial asked how are we going to pay for what we are about to do.

One thing I did react purely positively to was Obama's closing line in which he channeled Abraham Lincoln's 1860 Cooper Union address--made before Lincoln was even his party's presidential nominee. Lincoln, talking about slavery, said:
Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.
 President Obama ended last night's speech  this way:
America - we are passing through a time of great trial. And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be clear: that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering. We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might, and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest of fears but the highest of hopes.
I did note President Obama's concise, vivid, clear use of the English language; his complete refusal to rah! rah! war; his lack of need to reduce this deplorable situation to good guys vs. bad guys.

This morning, I'm still figuring out my own reaction to the speech. What about you? Did you listen/watch/read the speech. If so, I do especially today invite you to post your reaction to last night's speech or to e-mail me if that's easier and I'll do the posting.

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