When Obama's Inaugural Speech Will Become Great

Judging an inaugural speech in the moment is a mistake in my opinion. Immediate plaudits and pans are meaningless. Barack Obama's inaugural speech will best be judged after he acts as President. For example, in the most widely admired passage of the speech, President Obama said:

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

If Obama makes good on these words, it will be this passage of President Obama's First Inaugural speech that will be remembered. And it will be the actions that make those words memorable that will make President Obama's speech great. If the actions do not match the words, then the speech will be remembered as an empty one.

Speaking for me only

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    OK, here;'s some 'change' for ya (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by SeeEmDee on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 06:53:24 AM EST
    From President Obama's speech:

    The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. Those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account -- to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day -- because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

    Just how serious is he and the Dems about getting rid of programs that don't work? What if there are programs that happen to be grievously destructive of rights and liberties, as well as profligate and ruinously expensive, but have entrenched lobbyists standing ready to hurl verbal scheisse at the first person who dares suggest eliminating it? Programs like the DrugWar?

    A trillion dollars have been spent on Nixon's Folly since 1969, and we could have used all that lovely money for something else, say, universal health care, energy independence, unemployment insurance, etc. Scores of billions were allocated for it just last year, and what do we have to show for it, besides prisons and ruined lives?

    Let's see just how serious he and the Dems are now. Have they grown the necessary skeletal structure and procreative organs necessary? We'll see...

    Nixon's Folly? (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by BernieO on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:16:05 AM EST
    I heard a discussion on NPR a few months ago about Nixon's drug policy. Apparently it was much more focused on rehabilitation than on punishment.
    I think the interviewee might have been Michael Massing. (Salon had an article about this too, but I don't have time to find the link. Gotta go exercise.)Drug was looked at as a public health problem more than a crime problems and treatment was the emphasis.
    Nixon coined the "War on Drugs" name, but we also had a "War on Cancer" and I don't recall any cancer patients being incarcerated.

    Yes, Nixon's Folly (none / 0) (#42)
    by SeeEmDee on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:42:38 AM EST
    Nixon was more interested in whupping up on Blacks, Hispanics and Jews, because he associated drugs will all those groups. The treatment aspect was only window dressing; the rest was wholly punitive...for the reasons Lee Atwater mentioned as being the basis of the 'Southern Strategy' ("You can't say n-----r, n----r, n----r, anymore".)

    Reagan only ramped up what was already running. But it was ol' Tricky who pressed the START switch on the DrugWar Juggernaut.


    The "Wasted Lives" cliche... (none / 0) (#109)
    by cwolf on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:32:27 AM EST
    ...applies not only to the millions of US citizens who have been incarcerated, hurt or killed during this heinous drug war,,,

    similarly destroyed are the lives of the jailers who, along with their families and communities, are degraded by these sadistic and unproductive careers.


    BTD, probably true ... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 06:59:19 AM EST
    but it's also just another way of saying that "Mr. Speech" kinda blew it with the inaugural.

    I'm cautiously optimistic about what Obama is going to do, but the speech was quite lame.

    Also ... (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 07:03:14 AM EST
    JFK's inaugural speech was a hit from the get-go.

    I wasn't alive then, but I've heard stories of my older brother who was a toddler at time, being quite a hit at my parents parties because he could recite sections of the speech.


    I turned 14 the year JFK (5.00 / 3) (#33)
    by weltec2 on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:31:22 AM EST
    was elected and I remember well the impact it had on me. I felt like my head exploded. It was truly an epiphany. "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Kennedy started the Peace Corp. I was too young but I had great admiration for those who joined.

    There are countless stories ... (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:24:35 AM EST
    like yours.

    Obama's speech did not reach this level.  Undoubtedly, Obama has inspired many people.  But has he inspired them to do things other than support him?

    I've yet to see that.

    Clearly, JFK achieved that.


    It would be interesting (none / 0) (#94)
    by brodie on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:01:00 AM EST
    to get Obama's own frank evaluation of his speech, at least as written.

    Kennedy, after his speech was finalized but before the inaugural, deemed it pretty good, but not quite as good as Lincoln's 2d Inaugural.

    Though I think JFK's delivery on that cold day was probably far better than what Abe achieved in March 1865.


    I actually liked it better (5.00 / 4) (#27)
    by BernieO on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:24:26 AM EST
    than his usual speeches. I am turned off by vague phrases such as "change we can believe in". I think his explicit rejection of "failed dogmas" was huge - and long overdue. His saying we cannot prosper as a nation if we favor only the prosperous is also a theme I have wanted Democrats to emphasize for years now. It is all well and good to talk about the morality of helping the poor but until Americans realize that having a large percentage of our society mired in politics hurts all of us we will not have an effective effort to erase it. Republicans have known for a long time that appealing to people's self interest is much more effective than appealing their higher selves. They have been selling the public on the idea that the poor deserve what they get, that we shouldn't have to pay taxes, that greed is what makes this country great. Democrats have never effectively countered this garbage by arguing that healthy democracies need a large, strong middle class and that no country has ever had that without government policies to sustain it. The natural state of society is a small number of wealthy elites weilding power and taking advantage of the cheap labor of a large underclass with a small middle class to provide some needed services. Right wing policies push this country towards a third world society with the powerful rich living behind security walls being served by poorly paid workers.

    Good point (none / 0) (#28)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:25:32 AM EST
    on the Common Good. Somewhat buried though.

    The passage (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:28:04 AM EST
    "The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good."

    That sentence is ... (5.00 / 5) (#54)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:58:33 AM EST
    a clear example of the "curse of the subordinate clause" present in so many political speeches.

    Striving for eloquent language can hide eloquent thoughts.

    This is why his speeches are "faux Sorenson" rather than the real thing.

    Sorenson would never have hidden such an important concept in such a ungainly sentence.

    Someone should remove the semi-colon key from Obama's keyboard.


    You get it when you read it (none / 0) (#86)
    by samtaylor2 on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:51:07 AM EST
    The "speech" is much better read then heard (and I thought it was good).

    I was listening to some conservative pundants yesterday to get their take.  And according to one, it wasn't good because it didn't measure up to MLK's "I have a dream" speech.  


    I have been waiting for sooooo long (none / 0) (#105)
    by BernieO on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:23:38 AM EST
    to hear Democrats address this point that I will take what I can get. Too bad it isn't getting more attention today because it is the one argument that I find really works with conservatives when they rant against helping the poor. I have yet to have one of them come up with a response, which believe me is not usually the case. Usually I get something like "I hadn't thought about that." There are a lot of people who need to have issues framed in terms of their own self interest.

    Ideals are exist independent of any person (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by pluege on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 07:18:06 AM EST
    Obama's passage stands on its own without Obama. Just as American ideals are not the nation of disgrace and ruin of the last 8 years - American ideals are inviolable and endure on their own, what Obama has expressed exists as opportunity and potential for Americans (and any peoples) to embrace, now and forever. It is a matter of choice as to whether or not we embrace them under Obama's guidance. Just as the disasters of 8 years of bush culminating 28 years of disastrous republicanism have been a matter of choice.

    We as humans do not possess ideals. We can live them and express them, but we do not personally own them and they do not perish with our failures. Obama's quoted passage, his words will endure and be great regardless of his, and our ability to live up to them.

    Strong disagree (5.00 / 4) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 07:28:43 AM EST
    "Obama's quoted passage, his words will endure and be great regardless of his, and our ability to live up to them."

    The words will not endure if the principles are ignored.

    I could not disagree with you more.


    I dunno (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Steve M on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:25:37 AM EST
    Kennedy's "pay any price, bear any burden" seems to have survived as aspirational language even though it's hard to say we've really subscribed to that over the years.

    Strong disagree (none / 0) (#30)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:27:39 AM EST
    In fact, it is an infamous line that now rings so false and hollow that it mars the speech.

    An example of the problem (none / 0) (#35)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:33:01 AM EST
    Few observers would have expected President Bush's second inaugural address to draw comparisons with one of the most famous speeches in American history. Yet the parallels to John F. Kennedy's 1961 inaugural address are unmistakable. That is not necessarily a good thing.

    Take Bush's promise to "stand with . . . all who live in tyranny and hopelessness." The sentiment is reminiscent of Kennedy's saying the U.S. would "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

    But history reveals that Kennedy did not actually expect to pay any price to defend liberty. . . .

    Had the President qualified his rhetoric, stressing his hopes for freedom but stopping short of a promise to end tyranny on a global scale, even many of his detractors would have lined up behind him, for even as he rightly celebrated the power of American ideals, he admitted that our considerable power is not unlimited. He might have conceded that our leaders must exercise judgment by identifying and capitalizing on genuine opportunities and avoiding unwise engagements that sap American strength.

    Instead, Bush's incautious words have set the nation on a difficult and dangerous course for the next four years



    Maybe (none / 0) (#36)
    by Steve M on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:35:44 AM EST
    but is that truly why it is remembered by most people?  Because it is an infamous line?

    The level of remembrance (5.00 / 3) (#39)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:40:45 AM EST
    you assign seems inflated to me.

    The line most remembered from the speech is of course "Ask not what your country can do for you . . "

    I would argue that the second most remembered line is "Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans--born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world."

    Indeed, I think Obama's speech evoked that passage much more than anything else.

    I believe the "bear any burden" line is at best an after thought and is largely swept under the rug precisely because it was an absolutely false statement.


    Well, the "bear any burden" (none / 0) (#58)
    by brodie on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:04:32 AM EST
    language comes right after the human rights lines you quote, so a more forgiving reading in context would link the two passages which would then be more about Kennedy's commitment to supporting human rights and less about his eagerness to get entangled in military ventures abroad as some knee-jerk domino theorist cold warrior.

    But bear any burden is hardly "swept under the rug" by the hard anti-Kennedy left and by his many detractors in the MSM, who always cite it in isolation and who are frequently spouting off nonsense about JFK in the blogs and elsewhere.

    In any case, his FP turned out to be a largely progressive one which rejected the cold warrior rigidity of his times.  So in my reading of the situation, contra the conservative Cato Inst which is cited to slam him, he lived up to his pledge.


    this seems remarkable to me (none / 0) (#62)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:12:50 AM EST
    "In any case, his FP turned out to be a largely progressive one which rejected the cold warrior rigidity of his times.  So in my reading of the situation, contra the conservative Cato Inst which is cited to slam him, he lived up to his pledge."

    The Cuban Missile Crisis anyone?

    you are spouting Oliver Stone's version of history.


    Huh? He successfully (none / 0) (#73)
    by brodie on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:24:09 AM EST
    resolved the CMC and, against the overwhelming majority of his top ExComm advisors, took the less hawkish middle-ground approach of the blockade along with the private agreement on no invasion/remove missiles from Turkey.

    Very progressive attitude in the face of considerable pressure from the Joint Chiefs and all the rest to bomb and invade Cuba -- which would have been a disaster.

    Now, the Bay of Pigs, at least the initial decision to sign off on it, was a typical cold warrior approach -- a blunder, but one from which he learned much about his military advisors and top FP aides.  Well, at least he was wise in sticking to his guns in not allowing overt US military support to try to save the day.  


    That is no answer (5.00 / 1) (#78)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:30:25 AM EST
    The CMC was hardly an act of Kennedy rejecting "Cold War rigidity." The CMC was entirely a creature of the "Cold war rigidity." that LeMay was insane is not relevant to US Cold War policy, which was, BTW, extremely prudent and effective. Let me introduce you to the strategy devised by one George Kennan.

    You argue that the was "considerable pressure" from the Joint Chiefs to bomb/invade Cuba. I think the historical record does not bear that out.



    Yep, last I checked (none / 0) (#89)
    by brodie on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:54:37 AM EST
    from all the sources I've read about the JCS and most of the rest of his ExComm, including about all of his top nat'l security people, they wanted Kennedy to take aggressive military action asap.  

    So I don't really see your argument.

    Btw, George Kennan was a great admirer of Kennedy's FP decision making -- and that was a judgment which came at the very end of his presidency and while JFK was still alive.


    The Joint Chiefs (none / 0) (#92)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:00:07 AM EST
    recommended it in the first meeting. LeMay offensively, even treasonously so. After that meeting, it was not discussed again.

    All of JFK's "top people" (McNamara, the SecDef, Bundy, NSA.  etc) did not recommend invasion at all. Indeed, they recommended the quarantine.

    My argument is simple - you are wrong about JFK, who was till his death a full throated cold warrior.

    Rejecting the crackpot advice of the insane LeMay hardly changes that reality.  


    I believe you're just wrong on (5.00 / 1) (#98)
    by brodie on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:10:33 AM EST
    your facts.  

    My understanding is that the bomb/invade option was discussed -- and not just by the insane LeMay -- openly by others and not just on day one but even as the crisis developed.

    Bundy, JFK's top NS advisor, went back and forth, repeatedly, as to supporting an aggressive and immediate military response and then favoring blockade.  Smart guy, very smart, but he was all over the place and shifted his stance with the prevailing winds.

    MacNamara, if dim memory serves, initially wanted a military action then was one of the first to later recommend the quarantine option -- to his very great credit.

    Secy' State Rusk also initially wanted a hawkish response, but later came around to support the naval blockade, and was a helpful and loyal advisor on the ExComm.

    Re the JCS, you keep mentioning LeMay like he was the only ultrahawk, but there were others on the JChiefs, including the head of the Navy who also wanted to bomb/invade and, iirc, the Chairman Max Taylor also held this position.

    Lots of people weighed in at various times and some as noted shifted their stances, so there are a fair number of people/positions to track and remember.  E.g., even Bobby initially wanted to act aggressively, like McNamara, but like the SecDef these two soon began to lead the ExComm into a more sane and sober direction ...


    The options were always there (none / 0) (#104)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:21:08 AM EST
    and indeed, JFK himself stated that if the missiles were not removed voluntarily, they would be removed by the US.

    The pressure was from the crisis, not from the advisors. Hell, LeMay urged a preemptive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. He was not considered seriously be anyone imo.

    Indeed, the biggest resistance to JFK came later, and perhaps this is your reference, when he wished to accept the Khruschev remove the missiles in Turkey deal in exchange for removing the missiles in Cuba. Then JFK stood alone (even Bobby was against him.)

    Now the decision was of course the right one but it says nothing about the fact that JFK was a Cold Warrior to the end.


    Ted Sorenson (none / 0) (#106)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:26:15 AM EST
    has talked up the closeness of a hot war.

    Sorry but the record shows (none / 0) (#111)
    by brodie on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:38:55 AM EST
    Kennedy's considerable evolution about CW matters.  Though he was very consistent, progressively so, from the beginning about the following nutty ideas all the CWiors in the admin and from outside wanted him to undertake:

    1. Send troops to Laos (!).  This was Ike's strong recommendation in their only transition discussion.  Kennedy was startled by it, but once in office worked to implement a negotiated neutral settlement of that country's gov't, to his great credit.  A small matter which could have become the first Vietnam.

    2. Send combat troops to VN.  JFK rejected this Pentagon/CIA/NS advisor idea from the beginning, never sent a single combat unit over there, and by Oct 63 had formally decided to withdraw all military advisors by end 65.  That's not speculation, it's now documented.

    3. Initiate a unilateral first strike nuclear attack against the Soviet Union.  This was recommended, formally, on at least two occasions by the JCS, including the final rec in the fall of 63.  In the Chiefs view, the US had only a limited opportunity left in which to act after which the window would close forever.  Kennedy of course, that "cold warrior to the end", firmly rejected such insanity.

    4. Operation Northwoods -- the Pentagon's scheme to conjure up a false pretext in order to invade Cuba and topple Castro.  Apparently the original idea actually came from Pres Ike.  McNamara rejected it out of hand, so it's unclear whether it even got to Kennedy's desk.

    What "cold warrior" JFK was trying to do wrt Cuba, instead, was quietly open a back channel via trusted foreign media people in order to bring about a rapprochement with Castro.  The only sticking point CWior Kennedy made clear was that Castro needed to stop encouraging communist revolutions in the hemisphere.  Castro made himself open to discussions with Kennedy emissaries, and appeared willing to seek a compromise, but then Dallas happened ...  

    I do not know about 1 (none / 0) (#113)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:43:46 AM EST
    but on 2,3 and 4, you gotta be kidding me.

    You write "2. Send combat troops to VN.  JFK rejected this Pentagon/CIA/NS advisor idea from the beginning, never sent a single combat unit over there, and by Oct 63 had formally decided to withdraw all military advisors by end 65.  That's not speculation, it's now documented."

    That is utter speculation. Actually it's not. It's false. JFK NEVER made any such decision. there is no documentation whatsoever on that. This is Oliver Stone nonsense.

    You write "3. Initiate a unilateral first strike nuclear attack against the Soviet Union.  This was recommended, formally, on at least two occasions by the JCS, including the final rec in the fall of 63.  In the Chiefs view, the US had only a limited opportunity left in which to act after which the window would close forever.  Kennedy of course, that "cold warrior to the end", firmly rejected such insanity."

    Indeed, as I said, LeMay was insane. Ike spent years rejecting this insanity. Hardly an  advance by JFK.

    You write "4. Operation Northwoods -- the Pentagon's scheme to conjure up a false pretext in order to invade Cuba and topple Castro.  Apparently the original idea actually came from Pres Ike.  McNamara rejected it out of hand, so it's unclear whether it even got to Kennedy's desk."

    Operation Mongoose, headed by RFK, was nothing but conjuring up schemes to invade Cuba. Hell, RFK was for using the CMC as a pretext for invading Cuba.

    Again, your history seem to come form Oliver Stone.

    What "cold warrior" JFK was trying to do wrt Cuba, instead, was quietly open a back channel via trusted foreign media people in order to bring about a rapprochement with Castro.  The only sticking point CWior Kennedy made clear was that Castro needed to stop encouraging communist revolutions in the hemisphere.  Castro made himself open to discussions with Kennedy emissaries, and appeared willing to seek a compromise, but then Dallas happened ...  


    Re #1 and Laos, (none / 0) (#119)
    by brodie on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 11:12:54 AM EST
    the facts as I state them are in all the standard history books.  Ike in the one talk with Kennedy said not a word about VN -- but did strongly advise on sending the boys over to Laos.  Again, another instance, as with his MIC speech, of Ike doing nothing for years about a problem that he saw which was in great need of being addressed.

    Re #2, it's also a fact, not contradicted anywhere in the record, that Kennedy consistently rejected the rec of the JCS/CIA and NS advisers (not to mention most of the top cong'l leaders) to send over US combat units to Nam.  And his NSAM 263, Oct 63, formalized his final decision about removing all advisers by end 65 -- that's not just Stone but scholars of this period like John Newman (and others) who acknowledge this.  Newman's book, JFK and Vietnam, is hardly entirely flattering to Kennedy, as he notes the public deception of some public utterances to support the gov't of SVN which were at variance with his private decision making.

    #3:  Once again, it wasn't just LeMay.  The recommendation was one from the Joint Chiefs and, presumably, it was unanimous.  LeMay had only one vote out of,what, five.

    #4:  Bobby, iirc, began to dismantle Mongoose following the CMC, as per the US pledge to the USSR about non-invasion of Cuba.  What, the brother to the prez was going to risk another brinksmanship episode with the Soviets by going back on our firm pledge?  Silly nonsense.  By 63, Kennedy was on a rapprochement track with Castro, as I noted above.  That's in the historical record and no serious person can evaluate the entire Kennedy record on Cuba as it evolved w/o taking into account the 63 effort at thawing relations with Havana.


    One at a t time (5.00 / 1) (#120)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 11:36:36 AM EST
    the text of NSAM 263


    Secretary of State

    Secretary of Defense

    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

    SUBJECT: South Vietnam

    At a meeting on October 5, 1963, the President considered the recommendations contained in the report of Secretary McNamara and General Taylor on their mission to South Vietnam.

    The President approved the military recommendations contained in Section I B (1-3) of the report, but directed that no formal announcement be made of the implementation of plans to withdraw 1,000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963.

    After discussion of the remaining recommendations of the report, the President approved the instruction to Ambassador Lodge which is set forth in State Department telegram No. 534 to Saigon.

    McGeorge Bundy

    Copy furnished:

    Director of Central Intelligence

    Administrator, Agency for International Development


    withdrawal in 65 is not discussed.



    Link (none / 0) (#125)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 11:47:27 AM EST
    And the 1965 language in the McNamara report (5.00 / 1) (#128)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:05:36 PM EST
    b. Noted the President's approval of the following statement of US policy which was later released to the press:

           1. The security of South Viet Nam is a major interest of the United States as other free nations. We will adhere to our policy of working with the people and Government of South Viet Nam to deny this country to Communism and to suppress the externally stimulated and supported insurgency of the Viet Cong as promptly as possible. Effective performance in this undertaking is the central objective of our policy in South Viet Nam.

           2. The military program in South Viet Nam has made progress and is sound in principle, though improvements are being energetically sought.

           3. Major US assistance in support of this military effort is needed only until the insurgency has been suppressed or until the national security forces of the Government of South Viet Nam are capable of suppressing it.

              Secretary McNamara and General Taylor reported their judgment that the major part of the US military task can be completed by the end of 1965, although there may be a continuing requirement for a limited number of US training personnel. They reported that by the end of this year, the US program for training Vietnamese should have progressed to the point where 1,000 US military personnel assigned to South Vietnam can be withdrawn.

    On 3 (5.00 / 1) (#121)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 11:37:40 AM EST
    Excuse me, no one but LeMay has ever advocated a first strike against the Soviet Union.

    On Cuba (none / 0) (#122)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 11:39:01 AM EST
    The CMC ended in November 1962.

    To then argue that  "By 63, Kennedy was on a rapprochement track with Castro" is Stonian absurdity.


    Again, I fail to understand (none / 0) (#143)
    by brodie on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 01:56:58 PM EST
    your thinking here, and I have no idea about Stonian stuff you allude to.  (Not everything of a positive nature about Kennedy and his policies comes through the filter of Stone or assassination theorists. Though to Stone's credit, he did publish a book showing sources used for his JFK film, and the whole process did lead to an important assassn' records act being passed by Congress, so cut the guy some slack ferchrissakes ...)

    Recall:  the CMC was a hair-raising event for both sides, and Kennedy in the post-CMC period would have logically sought to reconsider US policy towards Cuba.  Just as in the post BoP period he ordered a study of that fiasco (Bobby and McNamara, iirc, part of that group) in order to re-evaluate the CIA (leading to certain major changes, or attempted changes, in top personnel and in re the exec order for the Pentagon, and not the CIA, to now be the responsible party for all overseas covert activity), similarly he was going to learn from what could have been another diasaster, the CMC.

    It's also entirely possible, though I can't cite anything, that Castro -- almost certainly from pressure from a sobered Khruschev, was also, in the post-CMC period, after a decent cool-down interval, interested in a different approach to the constant saber-rattling and hostility between the two countries.  Certainly given that Castro sat down with a Kennedy (unofficial) emissary on the very day of Dallas, to discuss how to go forward with a new relationship, suggests that the Cuban leader along with Kennedy was favorably inclined to arrive at some new, more positive understanding.

    In fact, when the news arrived about Dallas literally in the middle of Castro's meeting with Kennedy's emissary, Castro got a grave expression on his face and said, (paraphrasing) "Now everything is changed."   What would he have been referring to if not the expectation that the promise of a new relationship would now either be nixed by the new president or put on a very low priority basis (which in fact happened).


    One last point (none / 0) (#123)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 11:40:17 AM EST
    asI understand your argument, you are saying JFK said Ike said nothing about Vietnam (I agree) but gave him detailed advice on Laos.

    I'll take your word for it but it makes no sense.


    Re 1st strike, James Galbraith wrote (none / 0) (#140)
    by brodie on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 01:42:30 PM EST
    a piece for TAP back a few yrs, referencing recently released docs from a NSC meeting from July 61

    "The  http://utip.gov.utexas.edu/jg/archive/1994/STRIKEF2.pdfdocument reproduced opposite is published here for the first time. It describes a meeting of the National Security Council on July 20, 1961. At that meeting, the document shows, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the director of the CIA, and others, presented plans for a surprise attack."

    A similar Pentagon study group rec that the US prepare for, and implicitly, launch, a 1st strike against the Soviets was presented to the Kennedy admin in late summer/fall of 1963.  

    As to Kennedy's NSAM 263, by your own info, it was clearly intended to incorporate the Mac-Taylor findings from Oct 63 and the plan for a pullout by end 65 is clearly stated therein.  

    Obviously, the latter overall objective (as opposed to the net 1k withdrawal ordered, and publicly announced, for end 63) would have been something meant, for 1964 re-elect purposes, to remain stated as a "goal".  As JFK noted to several aides, and I believe to ML Mansfield, who was strongly urging Kennedy to take this path, he needed to get past the election -- lest, in his words, the election become another demagogic matter by Goldwater and the Repubs of Who Lost Vietnam?

    Re Laos, I only reported what's in the standard volumes about the transition.  It's odd perhaps, for Ike to strongly urge Kennedy to send in the troops to that tiny meaningless country, but there you are.  It's noteworthy here though that in early 61, the news reports about SE Asia dealt more about Laos, overwhelmingly in fact, than re VN.


    Not sure what your expectations are, but (none / 0) (#142)
    by pluege on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 01:51:44 PM EST
     1) contrary to your thoughts, you prove the ideal lives on regardless of Kennedy. You haven't forgotten, you're only disappointed in the outcome. You confuse personalities with ideals.

     2) although steeped in foibles and failures, including massively destructive ones, you'd be hard pressed even today to find many in the world not limited to authoritarian propaganda that didn't think of the US as a standard bearer of liberty. So to say Kennedy's words failed I think is incorrect.


    You are thinking ahead. (5.00 / 2) (#32)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:30:18 AM EST
    A lot of people are going to remain in the moment for now.  They can't imagine being disappointed and finding that later down the road the only reason to quote these words might be out of frustration born out of disappointment.

    It could be rhetoric or it could be real.  Only time will tell.

    I was just glad that for the first time in eight years I was able to listen to the President of the United States and not be scared by some or all of what I heard.

    Even the stark reality that this country is in economic distress conveyed in Obama's speech yesterday did not have the kind of impact on me as Bush' "Axis of Evil" speech did.  You know it is bad when economic collapse seems like a walk in the park in comparision to witnessing just the potential of paranoid fanaticism in action.


    I'm (5.00 / 0) (#44)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:44:04 AM EST
    looking to the future. I thought that was a good thing . . .

    I am not suggesting at all that it is (none / 0) (#66)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:13:52 AM EST
    not a good thing - but I've noticed that people I've talked to have been somewhat resistant when I've gone in a similarly forward direction.  

    One person recently told me point blank that he just wanted to enjoy this moment when he was not feeling disillusioned and didn't want to think beyond to a time when he might feel that way.  We were discussing an issue that had disappointed him and he was trying to ignore it.  I told him that I think that the only way that you have a chance of avoiding disappointment is by making your feelings known because you can't rely on a pol doing what you want them to do unless they know what you want.  I think people who respond positively or negatively to an issue are helping.  People who ask that the rhetoric become reality are as important in my opinion as anyone.  Reinforcement is a good thing in politics.  I think you are helping Obama by calling this out as an important promise.


    BTD, words will endure if people (5.00 / 1) (#155)
    by MyLeftMind on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 03:02:30 PM EST
    believe in what was said.  I joined the military when I was 18 in spite of the current worthless war we were engaged in (Vietnam), partly because of what I heard from great leaders such as Kennedy and his rhetoric about service.  I protested the war and also joined the military.  Our country has not lived up to the ideals of many of our greatest leaders, yet we can still strive for the promise of greatness they offered us.  I think Obama has every intention of being one of our greatest presidents, and with the momentum of so many Americans behind him, he has a good chance to change the direction we've been going for half a century.  If he fails, it won't be for lack of trying, and there will be another to take his place, because We The People are reengaged and motivated to take back our government.  The inauguration speech is just one tiny little step.

    Noble principles are always available (5.00 / 1) (#160)
    by pluege on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:01:12 PM EST
    for reclamation by anyone at any time.

    And you think the principles would die and (none / 0) (#139)
    by pluege on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 01:25:07 PM EST
    no one else ever down the road would ever espouse them again or be in a position to act on them?  

    I'll see you on your disagreement and raise disagreement to the power of 10.


    Obama's words would not be meaningful (none / 0) (#146)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:02:10 PM EST
    is what I meant.

    Obama's words are meaningful (none / 0) (#159)
    by pluege on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 06:42:15 PM EST
    no matter what. Its Obama that would be disingenuous if he doesn't make every honest effort to fulfill them after using them to represent his intentions. That's the point. The words stand on their own - they are very good words conveying very good ideals no matter who uses them. If the person using them is a skank (not saying Obama is) that doesn't devalue the words or the ideals they convey.

    This is one of the best posts (none / 0) (#13)
    by samtaylor2 on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 07:53:41 AM EST
    I have read here.  Truly

    Billmon's take... (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by waldo on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 07:23:41 AM EST
    ...is the one I like.

    "When Obama said "we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics," I was tempted to mentally add the phrase "or else" at the end -- because to me it almost sounded like a threat. When he said that "our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions . . . has surely passed," the impression I got wasn't of a man looking at his watch, but rather of a boss getting ready to check time cards. Where the talking heads saw a "somber" and "serious" new president, I thought I saw a "stern" and, who knows, maybe even a hint of a "steely" one."http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/1/21/05141/2300/662/686832
    Don't worry, hang on. This guy's going to be great.

    Wishful analysis (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 07:31:21 AM EST
    there is nothing in the language that supports and "or else" in that speech.

    Perhaps Obama's actions later will add an "or else" but the speech itself does not contain it.


    There is very little. . . (5.00 / 3) (#59)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:04:50 AM EST
    in any of what Obama says that supports so much of what people seem to believe about him -- and that's not a fault of his, or because he doesn't say anything (well, not primarily).  It's because people seem to use him largely as a canvas on which to project their own beliefs.

    That is true (none / 0) (#83)
    by Coral on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:46:07 AM EST
    of most presidents as they take office. Changes very quickly. It will be interesting to see what triggers the disillusionment and who will be the first of the disaffected.

    Personally, I hope it's all those who foresee an effort to "reform entitlements" as a signal to defund things like Social Security and Medicare.


    i'm old enough to remember, (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by cpinva on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 07:29:41 AM EST
    not so much JFK's speech itself, but the immediate impact it had on people and the country. i was quite young, so my impressions, of the reactions from the grownups around me, are what stick in my mind: they were darn near ebullient. it was as though a new, exciting day had dawned, and everyone got to take part.

    in fairness to pres. obama, the country inherited by kennedy was in much better shape, but he still had significant issues to deal with. the big difference, i think, is in their deliveries. that's not to say one was better than the other, just different styles.

    pres. obama has some kennedyesque features going for him: he and his family are young, attractive and intelligent. they seem to have a good sense of humor, and the kids are adorable.

    i wish them well.

    I wasn't around back then, (5.00 / 4) (#68)
    by brodie on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:17:15 AM EST
    but your recollections are accurate according to what I've read of that day as a number of public figures weighed in quickly with fulsom praise of the speech.

    It was considered a great inaugural just about from day one, and even his former political detractors applauded -- Eleanor Roosevelt, Socialist Norman Thomas, Harry Truman and Barry Goldwater, iirc -- as well as the literary greats of the time like Hemingway and Steinbeck along with the big-time columnists from the corp media.

    Memories decades later can be very faulty, but fortunately we have the written record to check them against, and in this case the record shows the acclaim was indeed immediate and considerable.


    I was not alive (none / 0) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 07:32:17 AM EST
    but I am always skeptical of memories 48 years later.

    I was (5.00 / 2) (#60)
    by BackFromOhio on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:08:54 AM EST
    To me, what made Kennedy's speech so memorable was not only the its quality and themes, but the fact that the nation hadn't seen oratory like that from its President.  It was also the emotion of the delivery and the drama of the day.

    My reaction yesterday to Obama's speech was that for the most part, it was clear about certain values I hold dear, and it wasn't filled with pat, vapid statements such as "Change we can believe in."  I think pundits were disappointed because their expectations were so high and the speech too serious.  The fact that Obama has spoken many times since his election also contributed to watering down the impact of what he said yesterday.  
    To me, the words were quite powerful even if not filled with "catch phrases" the media can use in sound bites.  My hope is that Obama's actions are true to his words, particularly as to Constitutional ideals.  


    JFK's rhetoric (5.00 / 3) (#74)
    by Coral on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:24:28 AM EST
    was much more eloquent, more grand and poetic than Obama's.

    I liked the content of this inaugural very much. It was plain spoken, but not inelegant, and the broad policy outlined appealed to me very much. In the future, if Obama succeeds, it's the content, not the language that will be remembered.


    I recall it well; cpinva is correct (5.00 / 4) (#72)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:23:08 AM EST
    as JFK's speech had immediate impact and received wide recognition for its resonance -- resonance in its eloquence, not just resonance in vocalizing a la Obama's marvelously James Earl Jonesish voice.

    In part, of course, JFK's "ask not" line meant a lot more from a wounded WWII veteran who spoke for that huge generation that had done so much for its country and the world.  My dad, also a WWII vet, had not been that warm to JFK; the speech did it.  Instead of the campaign's youthful candidate, the speech reminded the country and the world that JFK actually was a mature and experienced pol while still inspiring younger Americans.

    But the skepticism is understandable, BTD, after Teh Speech Of All Time on Race, which was hailed by media and others as one that would begin Teh Great National Discourse on Race, the one that kids would be memorizing from textbooks, etc.  Remember it, from just a matter of months ago?  Anyone?


    I do. (5.00 / 0) (#133)
    by Thanin on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:55:12 PM EST
    It helped me realize I need to get over some of my hatreds about what happened to NAs in the past and start working towards making the present better.  It was a great speech.

    March 18, 2008 (5.00 / 1) (#141)
    by daring grace on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 01:51:02 PM EST
    So about ten months ago.

    And yes. I remember how breathtaking it seemed to me in the ways that he touched on all sides of the issue of race and 'otherness' in the U.S. as I had never heard it expressed.


    They (we) were ebullient, BTD (5.00 / 1) (#118)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 11:08:15 AM EST
    Think of the preceding 20 or so years before Kennedy-- a long series of dry old men with spectacularly dowdy wives and dull adult children.  Heck, even Adlai Stevenson was a dry and sour old man.

    And then this guy with the hair and the bare head (that was HUGE then, not wearing a hat) and the easy, big grin and a very funny wit, with an almost unspeakably elegant and delicate and beautiful young wife, the two little kids-- it's hard to imagine what an enormous change that was and how it lifted the whole mood of the country when he came into office.

    Race aside, JFK and his family were a much, much bigger leap than the Obamas.  Truly, they were dazzling.


    I dunno... (5.00 / 0) (#135)
    by Thanin on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:58:29 PM EST
    doesnt Obama have around 80% approval?  Sounds like theyre pretty dazzling themselves.  Maybe it has a lot to do with the generation youre no longer in, like with JFK.

    You know (5.00 / 1) (#138)
    by CST on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 01:18:52 PM EST
    Everyone in my family's "close circle" are life-long lefties.  I spent the weekend with all of my parents friends who were talking about the JFK parallels, and remember the JFK inauguration.  The general consensus - they hadn't felt this way since that day, but that this felt a lot like it.  And they remember watching the JFk inauguration - for the most part, it was the last inauguration any of them had watched.

    I don't think any of them were less "ebullient" yesterday.  If anything, more so.  I think some of the differences that people here feel/see have to do with, to a certain extent, their own personal feelings about the Obamas.  But I don't know that the general populous agrees.  And frankly saying "race aside" loses the point that, you can't throw race aside.  That's like saying "age and religion aside" JFK was just like other presidents.  That "newness" was part of the appeal of JFK just like it is with the Obamas.


    You had to be there (5.00 / 1) (#148)
    by cal1942 on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:09:46 PM EST
    and have lived in the times to appreciate the Kennedy speech.

    You may suspect memories of events nearly half a century ago and for the most part I agree. But, there are impressions and feelings of some events that are lifelong indelible, permanently emblazoned in the mind.

    JFK's inaugural address is one of those events. I can't speak for everyone who saw the speech but for me it's still clear.  During the speech I was stunned when even hard boiled adults, people who had seen it all, came up out of their chairs at the same moment the kid came to his feet.

    An earlier commenter, who must have lived the times, noted that we hadn't seen such oratory.  Political speeches were typically dull and often contained obligatory, dated flourishes.

    This was different.


    45 years later (none / 0) (#10)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 07:36:09 AM EST
    2009 - 1964 = 45

    January 20, 1961 (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 07:37:22 AM EST
    was the date of Kennedy's inauguration.

    I need another cup of coffee ... (none / 0) (#12)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 07:38:04 AM EST
    you're right of course.

    Great speeches IMO are made in the moment (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Saul on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:11:09 AM EST
    I am no expert on speeches but Lincoln, FDR and JFK had key words that made their speeches great the moment you heard them and you knew they were going to go down in history as great speeches.  I cannot recall of speech that was made great after the moment or years later. Maybe there are some but none that I have heard of but like I said I am no expert on great speeches.

    I was 18 when I heard JFK speech and I was impressed.

    However I am more concerned with what a president accomplishes during his administration rather than how great his speech was.  No matter how great your speech is if you cannot deliver the things you promised or said will be done then you will only be know for giving a great speech.

    I do not feel that Johnson gave a great speech but history will show that he was one of very few presidents that got several major pieces of legislation passed during his tour as president.  He was not a very charismatic president.

    Maybe Obama just gave to many speeches from the time he decided to run and did not have much more to give at the inauguration  to show up his previous speeches.  As a general rule though, your inauguration speech should be the grand daddy of them all.  

    Actually the speeches you cite (none / 0) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:18:24 AM EST
    are only remembered as great because of the accomplishments (or promise of accomplishments in JFK's case) of the speakers.

    No one would have remembered any of them if they had failed to act.

    In that sense, only one speech you mention was an action in and of itself - Mark Antony's "We Come To Bury Caesar" funeral speech. It sparked the fight against Caesar's killers and the civil war to follow.


    Yes and no (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Saul on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:45:30 AM EST
    Of course, if the speech is followed by accomplishments related in the speech then it just makes that speech even greater if it was a great speech to begin with but most people that hear speeches and judge speeches as great or not great do it at the moment the speech was given.  I think that the majority of people that hear a speech and judge it as great do not later take away the greatness of that speech because no accomplishments followed the great speech.  Either you gave a great speech at the moment or you did not.  If accomplishment follow or do not follow, to me it does not take away from the greatness of the speech given at the moment.  I would have remembered JFK speech as a great speech had he or Johnson not accomplished anything.  Because they accomplished some of their tasked associated with their speech is just an added bonus.

    Like I said I am more concerned with accomplishments than whether a speech is great or not. If Obama accomplished all of his agenda he will be know for his accomplishments rather than if his speech was a great speech or not. I would rather be remembered for my deeds and not my words. Of course if you can have both that's even better.


    I think initial reactions to a speech (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:51:37 AM EST
    are fairly meaningless on how they will be viewed for posterity.

    If the North had not won the Civil war, who would think the Gettysburg Address a great speech? Precisely no one.


    Perhpas the beginning of what you are looking for (5.00 / 3) (#51)
    by Molly Bloom on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:51:52 AM EST
    vis a vis

    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.

    From the AP

    GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) - A military judge has agreed to President Barack Obama's request to suspend the Guantanamo war crimes trial of Canadian Omar Khadr.
    It is the first in a series of delays sought by Obama as his administration reviews the legal system for prosecuting alleged terrorists.

    And the Gettysburg Address (5.00 / 1) (#112)
    by BernieO on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:39:50 AM EST
    was not a big hit.

    When Johnson gave his Sherman statement, (none / 0) (#52)
    by weltec2 on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:52:49 AM EST
    I was stunned. Suddenly the "and we shall overcome" and "unconditional war against poverty" became a vacuum.

    On second thought... (none / 0) (#65)
    by weltec2 on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:13:48 AM EST
    I think that's somewhat overstated.

    I keep thinking back (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by ricosuave on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:12:29 AM EST
    to the kid that works in the grocery store who told me back in November that this was the most significant election of our lifetimes (personally, I think 1994 and 1980 had much more far-reaching consequences than this one ever will, and would be happy to debate 1992's significance as well, but that is not the point).  I did not point out to him that it was probably just the first one he could actually remember and had participated in.

    I think most people (especially the news commentators) have built such a huge level of excitement and anticipation around this inauguration and speech that the could have read a shopping list and many would have called it great.

    I tuned in for the speech, and thought it was good.  Not "we will fight them on the beaches" great or even "we choose to go to the moon and do the other things not because they are easy" great, and definitely not "Brutus is an honorable man" great.

    The sheer joy brought about by seeing Bush's presidency officially end, of knowing what this election means for African Americans, and the general pomp of an inauguration made the moment exciting for even a cynic like myself.  I am happy that he didn't try to give a "greatest speech of all times" speech, and found his speech right for the moment.  I didn't hear anything groundbreaking or new (other than, perhaps, the official mention of unbelievers along with the standard list of religions), but didn't expect to either.

    I don't think schoolchildren will be memorizing this speech 25 years from now, or that it will be referred to over and over throughout his presidency, or that it will be inscribed in stone anywhere.  I doubt we will even be talking about it six months from now, like we are not talking about the "great race speech which started the conversation on race" anymore either.  

    Obama's best speeches ... (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:23:45 AM EST
    are like bubblegum pop songs.  They satisfy at the moment, but don't have much lasting impact.

    And the inaugural was not one of his best speeches.

    But if Obama aides us in moving into a new progressive era, he could give all his speeches in pig-latin for all I care.


    Picky point, but I thought this placement (5.00 / 6) (#22)
    by Crosby Kid on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:22:26 AM EST
    was unfortunate...

    ...we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense...

    I'm not going to get into he said/she said about who on this planet is more or most responsible for its warming, but I'm fairly certain that "our way of life" - for which we are not apologizing - has a part in it.

    It seems he was connecting our patriotic recalcitrance to not giving in to the terrorists, but as a possible Freudian slip-up (as when it comes to flying in 600 private jets to see the inauguration), I shook my head a bit.

    That is a good point (5.00 / 2) (#38)
    by starsandstripes on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:39:42 AM EST
    And it did get non-Americans here in Canada bristling. I hadn't read the speech at the time, but a friend remarked that he thought it was arrogant that Obama didn't think it necessary to apologize for anything the Americans did. He may have over-reacted to that line - but the placement was a little unfortunate.

    And his speechwriter should have caught it :P


    So... (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by Crosby Kid on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:58:54 AM EST
    I should send in my resume for speech writer? ;-)

    I doubt many others caught it...or cared. I'm just a pill.


    on the contrary (5.00 / 4) (#57)
    by Nasarius on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:04:04 AM EST
    The Daily Show did half a segment on it last night, with Jon Stewart reading that line in his typical Bush imitation.

    It's...weird, and I have no idea what Obama meant by it. It's typical middle-finger-to-the-world, we-love-SUVs Bush language.


    Sure (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by starsandstripes on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:13:08 AM EST
    And bonus points if you're not a sexist pig who thinks groping a cardboard cut-out of the Secretary of State is oh-so-funny.

    I think quite a few non-Americans caught it. I don't know about the Americans though.


    That's what I get (5.00 / 1) (#70)
    by Crosby Kid on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:19:44 AM EST
    for not having cable. Although I just found it on The Internets, and the segment from the Daily Show was pretty funny.

    Furiously sending out resume to Daily Show with notarized promise to not grope Jon Stewart.


    I caught it (none / 0) (#79)
    by sj on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:30:55 AM EST
    and didn't care for it.  I watched the speech at the cafeteria at work.  A couple of known Republicans that were part of my group seemed to approve of that sentiment.

    Just saying.


    That's a good point (none / 0) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:23:51 AM EST
    The sequence was a bit jarring.

    Jeffrey Toobin (5.00 / 2) (#45)
    by lilburro on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:45:00 AM EST
    IMO was annoying yesterday with his blather about how the speech was missing that "one big line."  

    Personally I thought it was a thoughtful speech intended to draw in everyone, esp. those who did not vote for him and perhaps are less interested in the rhetoric.  That Obama weaved in and out of historical moments was impressive.  I loved the Valley Forge reference.

    I thought this was a big line (5.00 / 7) (#48)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:50:14 AM EST
    "As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals."

    My favorite line as well (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by CST on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:15:32 AM EST
    I also liked that he directly engaged the middle eastern world, without insulting them or putting anyone's hackles up.  The line about people judging their leaders on what they build up rather than what they tear down was one that Bush would never have been able to deliver with a straight face, but Obama still has some standing to make that case.

    Actually (none / 0) (#152)
    by cal1942 on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:45:52 PM EST
    it was difficult to tell what that reference was about unless it was an attempt to mix events to serve a rhetorical purpose.

    The capital having been captured fits Valley Forge but the reference to the bank of a frozen river I took to mean the desperate state of the Continental Army when Washington gambled on crossing the Delaware to attack Trenton and keep the Revolution alive. The two were a year apart.


    Put up yer dukes (5.00 / 4) (#47)
    by lentinel on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:47:57 AM EST
    "We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you."

    This part of the speech made me nervous.

    Who is asking for an "apology" for "our way of life"?

    And what, exactly, is "our way of life"?

    I also don't think we needed an "we will defeat you" line.
    Inducing terror and slaughtering innocents is not the exclusive province of Muslims. To imply that we don't induce terror and slaughter innocents (ever hear of "shock and awe"?) or that our allies don't, is something that the whole world can see through.

    It is an obvious sop to the right-winger gun-slingers among us.

    And I wonder how it sounds to our potential adversaries.
    To the extent that it sounds like a cowboy tough-guy offering to take on anybody in the room - or the cowardly lion saying, "put 'em up, put 'em up" - I would have preferred that he wouldn't have said it. They know we have nukes and are willing to pour billions into blowing up anybody we feel like blowing up.
    They have shown that not only do they not care, but they can find ways around it. We don't need to provoke these folks.

    It's perferctly reasonable (none / 0) (#149)
    by MyLeftMind on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:20:48 PM EST
    to say we won't apologize for our way of life when you are concurrently ending torture and dedicated to finding other ways to resolve conflicts (carrots vs. wars).  Remember that on 9/11/01, only one hijacked plane was flown toward our capital, while two were sent to the biggest symbol of rampant capitalism in the world:  NYC and the Twin Towers.  The clear message from the terrorists is 1) They hate America and 2) The reason why is the abuse of wealth and power by American corporations with the support of our government.  As long as our government truly promotes my values (supporting the middle class, helping the poor by encouraging a strong work ethic, keeping religion out of government, etc.), I fully support the use of military force to protect our country.  It's not blustering, and it's nothing like BushCo's illegal actions.  Obama's statement is a reaffirmation of our ability and our right to protect the American way of life, and hopefully that doesn't include private jets to the inauguration, unless you pay a heck of a lot more taxes than the rest of us common folk.  

    We already mitigate many of the problems created by our capitalistic society.  We have child labor laws, minimum wages and social security.  Yet we also have war profiteering and entire industries sapping our national resources in the interests of profit for a very few.  Most Americans care about other people in the world yet our government's actions often don't reflect those values.  Rampant unchecked capitalism is destroying the world.  I heard Obama say we will defend our country and allies, but we will not participate in wars or military actions that make us less safe in the world (torture).  The proof of the pudding will be in his actions over the next four years, and I'm confident that with Prez Obama, we the people will finally have a say in our government's actions.  


    Er (5.00 / 1) (#150)
    by Steve M on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:24:35 PM EST
    There were, of course, two hijacked planes that were flown towards Washington on 9/11, one of which was brought down by its heroic passengers.

    Anyone notice the Bush (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by SOS on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:59:27 AM EST
    Gang vanished into the sunset along with the National Treasury?

    They got away with almost ... (5.00 / 1) (#102)
    by FreakyBeaky on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:16:57 AM EST
    ... everything they wanted to do.  Privatizing Social Security failed, and it looks like the dream of empire in Mesopotamia will remain a dream - not for lack of effort, though.  Other than those two things Bush had a very successful presidency.  He even managed to stick future generations, not the mention present ones, with the bill.

    One of the reasons I have mixed feelings about yesterday.  Can't get over that.


    and laughing (none / 0) (#64)
    by SOS on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:13:10 AM EST
    all the way to the bank.

    Like so many 3rd world dictators n/t (none / 0) (#88)
    by Coral on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:53:06 AM EST
    Wow... (5.00 / 2) (#69)
    by OldCity on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:19:01 AM EST
    I must have been listening to a different man.  

    I heard an affirmation of the true nature of America, a country founded on ideas, not ethnicity.  I heard an appreciation of and an exhortation to continue the American tradition of political evolution.  I heard a man remind us that America self-corrects from time to time, and that this is one of those times.  I heard that American values (and, they are values we all share, though we may apply them differently) are something to appreciate and defend, because they're unique in the world.

    There's text and there's sub-text.  The subtext of this speech was that the prior administration eroded our position in the world and our own national confidence; that it's time to remind ourselves that America is capable of living up to our own mythology.

    We can arue the missteps of the country's history all we want.  We ahould also remind ourselves that history provides hindsight.  Our isolationism in the late 30's doesn't look good.  But then again, look back and see what Americans did for Europe at Normandy.  

    I'm a cynic, always have been.  But, Obama's election proves something about America.  And, while some may quibble with his rhetoric, he's reinforcing America's most basic ideals; that can't be bad.  


    I agree with you completely (5.00 / 1) (#131)
    by sallywally on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:21:52 PM EST
    and that was why I found the speech perfectly appropriate and the content and pointed, sober delivery extremely wonderful.

    It may not be remembered in history but I loved its combination of refuting the Bush years and strongly reaffirming the foundation of our Republic and the principles and ideas sent to us by the founding fathers and by all who have died for and advanced those principles over the course of our history.

    Whether or not we have failed - and we have, regularly - to live up to those ideas, they are still the foundation of our republic and truly, concretely, it is our mandate from the founding fathers to advance them on our watch, as others have done in the past.

    I was thrilled that Obama clearly pulled this moment into the context of our whole history and all the people who have been part of that history.

    I was extremely happy with it.


    If a response to my post (none / 0) (#71)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:21:55 AM EST
    your comment is a nonsequitor.

    No, (none / 0) (#97)
    by OldCity on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:09:20 AM EST
    I wasn't.  

    I will point out though, that the impressions one receives from rhetoric can't be nonsequitors precisely because they are unique.  

    I was replying to the overall analysis, which I found to be largely composed of misapprehensions of the thrust of the speech.  

    IMO, the speech repudiated the poor decisions of the last administration without being overtly insulting.  It also reminded the larger constituency (i.e., people who don't read Talkleft) that Americans are greater than we've shown recently.  I think Obama recognized that tone was more important that flourish, and it worked.  The speech inspired because it/he assumed that Americans can and will live up to their better selves.  We don't need to torture.  We don't need to let markets run unfettered.  government has a purpose.  That American values, such as free speech and freedome of assembly are deplored in some countries and by some cultures and that those values are worth defending.  



    Dare I say (none / 0) (#101)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:16:34 AM EST
    that the word nonsequitor is not well understood by you.

    To wit, you COULD be responding to my post, but your response could still be not responsive.


    I understand it perfectly well (5.00 / 2) (#108)
    by OldCity on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:31:12 AM EST
    ...it can also mean illogical.

    Since I was reading all of the posts and found many of them picayune compared to my impression of the speech, I posted.  I wasn't being illogical, I merely distilled the feeling the speech evoked in me, and I daresay, others.

    We're not all arguing with YOU, BTD.  I don't think the speech set any benchmarks for memorable content.  I do think though, that it enabled Obama to effectively communicate the marching orders he's given himself and the expectations the country should have.  And, oh, yeah, we're better than the guys who led us for the last eight years.  


    I disagree (5.00 / 1) (#110)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:36:47 AM EST
    You say " I don't think the speech set any benchmarks for memorable content." I believe the content CAN be memorable IF action confirms the rhetoric. sort of my point.

    Both of you (5.00 / 1) (#127)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:05:25 PM EST
    don't know how to spell it, though, and know that it's two words, not one-- non sequitur (Latin-- "does not follow," or non sequential)

    Isn't it obvious (none / 0) (#130)
    by Spamlet on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:17:40 PM EST
    that Old City meant to reply to lilburro at #45, about the "one great line" complaint by Toobin?

    No... (5.00 / 2) (#137)
    by OldCity on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 01:05:16 PM EST
    because I posted after reading all of the posts written at the time.  I thought that the speech was meant to more evocative than it was a historic example of political rhetoric.  

    The knock on Obama is that his rhetoric is too visionary or non-specfic.  I don't think that's necessarily a weakness.  For starters, committing to any course of specific action requiring Congressional approval prior to an election is just stupid.  Had Democrats been less successful in Congressional elections, he'd just be setting himself up for failure.  What was good at, rather, was setting a tone and creating expectations that things HAVE to change, building consensus for the idea, so that once action begins, he's got a goodwill resovoir.  Tactically, I think it was a good move.

    I think one of the most important things Obama has done, before implementation of any policy, is that he reminded Americans of that this country was founded on some core values, and that those values mean something.  It was a quintessentially American thing to do, to appeal to American pride and offer an opportunity to discard the shame so many feel as a result of the sequelae of Bush administration decisions.    

    And, I did take five years of Latin and I know non sequitur is spelled with either a space or hyphen..I just have a tendency to type quickly and not proofread.


    Maybe the power (5.00 / 0) (#80)
    by SOS on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:31:04 AM EST
    of his rhetoric and his sheer buff physical presence can whip this republic of overfed clowns into shape.

    The Biblical quote re "childish things" (5.00 / 3) (#81)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:37:34 AM EST
    got a lot of attention in media I heard and read yesterday as probably the most memorable line "by Obama," the one that will go down in history, etc.

    Once again, the idiocy of media made me laugh.  Uh, it's already a fairly memorable line for a couple of millennia now, being from the Bible.  And being from the Bible, it's not a line by Obama -- or by his kid speechwriter.  So it's not at all the same as lines from inaugural speeches actually coined for the occasion.

    It's just another great steal.  The kid is great at stealing lines, like Dolores Huerta's "Yes, We Can" and the Hopi chief's "We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For" or whatever.  At least this time, the kid scripted Obama to credit the Bible.  But probably only because it is the Bible and would be recognized -- rather than giving kids another great lesson in the benefits of plagiarism by not crediting the other lines from the campaign, when Obama et al. could count on ahistorical, unschooled media to credit him.

    And to quote that other great "writer" (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:45:22 AM EST
    Sam Seaborn:

    "Good writers borrow from other writers, great writers steal from them outright."

    Maybe that's what they were going for? ;)


    Ah, sad but too true, I guess. (5.00 / 0) (#117)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:55:12 AM EST
    And anyone who can quote West Wing -- and attribute it to avoid plagiarism -- is cool with me. :-)

    And Aaron Sorkin knows whereof he speaks...:) (none / 0) (#157)
    by Alien Abductee on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 03:37:09 PM EST
    "Lesser artists borrow, great artists steal"
    - Stravinsky

    "Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal"
    - T S Eliot

    "Good artists copy, great artists steal"
    - Picasso


    Not A Steal At All (5.00 / 0) (#145)
    by daring grace on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:00:06 PM EST
    If, by 'the kid' you're referring to the president...

    He credited 'scripture':

    "We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things."

    From the NY Times version of the transcript.


    The "kid" didn't steal it (none / 0) (#134)
    by ai002h on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:56:36 PM EST
    Obama used that line in commencement addresses in 2004 & 2005.

    And he didnt steal (5.00 / 0) (#136)
    by ai002h on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:59:56 PM EST
    "Yes We Can" either, since that was a huge part of Obama's 2004 campaign. Me thinks you're part of the "Obama just reads what his speechwriters give him" crowd. Do you also believe William Ayers wrote "Dreams from my Father" like the wingnuts do??

    That was my favorite passage (5.00 / 2) (#84)
    by ruffian on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:47:50 AM EST
    I hope he amplifies and repeats it often in the months ahead. It would help if other politicians put things in those terms also - the speech won't have an impact if it exists in a vacuum.

    I interpreted the 'won't apologize for our way of life' as a version of Bush's 'they hate us because we're free' formulation. I see that as a strawman argument, and hope that is not what Obama meant.

    ATTENTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (5.00 / 2) (#85)
    by SOS on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:49:17 AM EST
    AP -  34 minutes ago

    GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - A judge on Wednesday quickly granted President Barack Obama's request to suspend the war crimes trial of a young Canadian in what may be the beginning of the end for the Bush administration's system of trying alleged terrorists.

    The surrender begins (none / 0) (#116)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:54:18 AM EST
    Overall liked, but was offended (5.00 / 5) (#87)
    by Exeter on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:52:20 AM EST
    by the "can't we all just stop fighting" campaign meme. We're not "fighting" Obama, we're disagreeing on deep-held beliefs on the role of government, seperation of church and state, civil rights, ect.
    And if there had been no "fighting," you would not be president, pal!

    An inaugural address, for me, is about (5.00 / 3) (#90)
    by Anne on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:54:41 AM EST
    celebrating who we are as a people, what we are as a country, and making people want to believe in those things again.  We have been so demoralized and demeaned and angered by what Bush has done to us these last eight years that Obama might have been able to recite the alphabet forwards, backwards and sideways, and we'd have taken heart from it.

    We are not so naïve, though, to think that a speech will be all it takes, and I have no doubt that the lines from his address will be viewed in the context of his actions from this point, and judged accordingly.  Will it ever be seen as one of the great inaugural addresses?  Probably not, but I'm happy to settle for an average speech if - big IF - it is later seen as having been the taking-off point for the extraordinary action that the times required.

    For me, the inaugural address is always kind of secondary to what is taking place: the seamless and peaceful transition of power that is witnessed by the entire world.  And it's supported by all the symbols and ceremony that evoke our history and those who created America.  There is no question that we have gone off the rails more than a little bit, that much work is needed to restore what has been broken, but the ritual of the inauguration makes it seem like all of that is not is it possible to get back on track, but that it is an imperative from the hands of the founding fathers.

    We can parse and pick and opine all we want about what Obama's words meant, what they foreshadow, what is praise and what is promise, but the real measure of Obama's words will come in his actions, so I can only hope he lives up not so much to his own words, but to the responsibility inherent in the words in our founding documents.

    Demoralized is (5.00 / 1) (#91)
    by SOS on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:57:39 AM EST
    true we've been reduced to a bunch of lazy wimps by the Big Bad Repbulicans now that is an insult if there ever was one.

    It's about time (5.00 / 2) (#93)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:00:30 AM EST
    I was encouraged to hear Obama defend our nations values and principles. All I heard from the Bush administration was that we had to sacrifice our out dated ideas because it's a new world. Things like the Geneva Convention  or "Old Europe" were quaint memories that no longer applied.

    Reading this morning that he has put a hold on military trials at Gitmo, to study alternatives, is a first step back to these values.

    A very welcome part of the speech (none / 0) (#107)
    by FreakyBeaky on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:26:55 AM EST
    Let us hope (there's that f'ing word again) it becomes more than words.

    (More like the Gitmo thing, please.  Much more.)


    Someone hit a nerve (5.00 / 1) (#100)
    by CST on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:12:14 AM EST
    I guess you haven't really "made it" until you've been censored by the Chinese.

    I wonder how the rest of the world is taking it, gov'ts and people alike.

    Talk is cheap... (5.00 / 2) (#126)
    by oldpro on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 11:53:24 AM EST
    Nevermind what they say...watch what they do.

    Not so much (none / 0) (#14)
    by jarober on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 07:54:54 AM EST
    At best, that passage demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the history of the period in question.  The US stood apart from WWII as long as it could and - had Hitler not declared war on the US - it's not even clear that we would have entered the European war at all.  

    Once in the war, the US took nearly complete control of the military effort on the Western front.  In the Pacific, we also commanded the entire effort.  

    Far from "robust alliances", we left the Western powers to their fate prior to late 1941.

    Then there's the whole security/liberty thing - I really don't think you want to invoke FDR there, as he immediately ordered the internment of American citizens (for all of this site's rabid attacks on Bush, he did nothing as extreme as what FDR did).

    Robust alliances were formed (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:01:33 AM EST
    and principles defended.

    that the Republican Party led the America First charge that impeded FDR's attempts to aid in the fight against the Axis is of course a matter of record.


    Times Change... (none / 0) (#19)
    by jarober on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:13:30 AM EST
    First, there's always been an isolationist movement in the US - and if I had to identify it today, more of it lives in the Democratic party.  That will probably change again, but it's how it is now.

    Second, the alliances that were formed during WWII were unstable; the alliance of convenience with the USSR fell apart for obvious and logical reasons by the late 40's.  

    The NATO alliance served a long term purpose, but that purpose ended in 1991, with the fall of the USSR.  Do you actually believe that - absent the Soviet threat - the Greeks and Turks have any common interests (to name just two members of the alliance).  NATO now exists out of sheer inertia.  The belief among many Democrats and Republicans that it serves a purpose is foolish - as foolish as it would have been for early 20th century Britain to continue to fear France based on the Napoleanic era.

    The times have changed, and the threats have changed with them.  Alliances are temporary, and they are based on the interests of the nation - not on the inertia of bygone eras.


    Isolationists today (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:22:32 AM EST
    are Democrats? Because they opposed the disastrous Iraq Debacle? Here I will quote Obama - "I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars. ..."

    Like Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Howard Dean (and unlike people like the "socialist" Christopher Hitchens), I supported Desert Storm and opposed the Iraq Debacle.

    And the internationalist strain in the GOP as you describe it is entirely in its willingness to fight disastrous wars. Hardly the type of international engagement that should be endorsed.


    Does Christopher Hitchens (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by weltec2 on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:39:36 AM EST
    still call himself a socialist? He did once, I know, but... I would call him closer to an intellectual car crash.

    I just call him an idiot (5.00 / 4) (#40)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:42:06 AM EST
    and mean it.

    His latest piece is comically absurd.


    for those who missed it (5.00 / 2) (#53)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:57:09 AM EST
    Hitchen's idiocy Part XXX:

    [o]n the last day of his presidency, I want to say why I still do not wish that Al Gore had beaten George W. Bush in 2000 or that John Kerry had emerged the victor in 2004.

    . . . We are never invited to ask ourselves what would have happened if the Democrats had been in power that fall [2001]. But it might be worth speculating for a second. The Effective Death Penalty and Anti-Terrorism Act, rushed through both Houses by Bill Clinton after the relative pin prick of the Oklahoma City bombing, was correctly described by the American Civil Liberties Union as the worst possible setback for the cause of citizens' rights. Given that precedent and multiplying it for the sake of proportion, I think we can be pretty sure that wiretapping and water-boarding would have become household words, perhaps even more quickly than they did, and that we might even have heard a few more liberal defenses of the practice. I don't know if Gore-Lieberman would have thought of using Guantanamo Bay, but that, of course, raises the interesting question--now to be faced by a new administration--of where exactly you do keep such actually or potentially dangerous customers, especially since you are not supposed to "rendition" them. There would have been a nasty prison somewhere or a lot of prisoners un-taken on the battlefield, you can depend on that.

    We might have avoided the Iraq war, even though both Bill Clinton and Al Gore had repeatedly and publicly said that another and conclusive round with Saddam Hussein was, given his flagrant defiance of all the relevant U.N. resolutions, unavoidably in our future. And the inconvenient downside to avoiding the Iraq intervention is that a choke point of the world economy would still be controlled by a psychopathic crime family that kept a staff of WMD experts on hand and that paid for jihadist suicide bombers around the region. In his farewell interviews, President Bush hasn't been able to find much to say for himself on this point, but I think it's a certainty that historians will not conclude that the removal of Saddam Hussein was something that the international community ought to have postponed any further. (Indeed, if there is a disgrace, it is that previous administrations left the responsibility undischarged.)

    This from the man who opposed Desert Storm and declared it "a squabble between business partners."


    Christopher Hitchens (5.00 / 0) (#61)
    by BackFromOhio on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:12:15 AM EST
    seems to me to take bizarre positions that will attract attention.

    more likely (none / 0) (#41)
    by TimNCGuy on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:42:15 AM EST
    jarober is talking about dems in the light of trade policies, wanting to keep jobs in USA etc

    Well (none / 0) (#43)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:43:33 AM EST
    that could be true but the POTUS is not among those.

    War is a racket (none / 0) (#158)
    by waldo on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 04:59:58 PM EST
    BTD, reading this thread, I was prepared to put up with your parsing and bickering, even your dismissal of billmon, arguably one of the most astute writers on the web. That is until I read" I supported Desert Storm ". You're a goose.

    NATO's purpose is re-shaped (none / 0) (#99)
    by KeysDan on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:12:01 AM EST
    owing to its successes, but it continues as a useful structure for European peace.  Yes, it was established in 1948 as a system of collective defense against an external party (the growing fears of the Soviet Union), but the mutual defense also applied among parties to the agreement.  The original idea of keeping the Russians out, the Americans in, and Germany down has been outlived, but, in my view, NATO continues to be of potential value.  Indeed, the Soviets wanted to join NATO in 1954, but were rejected but maybe timing for the inclusion of Russian is now riper.  

    I think (5.00 / 3) (#24)
    by Steve M on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:22:42 AM EST
    that you have to take into account Lend-Lease, not to mention the efforts to provide military assistance to Britain which went into motion as early as 1940.  I don't know that there would have been a Europe left to defend if we had, in fact, left the Western powers to their fate prior to late 1941.

    It's as dangerous to ... (none / 0) (#16)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:03:57 AM EST
    attach a set of morals to a nation as it is to a person.

    Nations, like people, are (at best) imperfect things.

    Though FDR seems to have been ahead of the nation in seeing the need to help European allies during WWWII.  The lend-lease policy being just one bit of evidence of that.

    But he was also a good politician, and understood the nation wasn't ready to commit to the war prior to Pearl Harbor.


    I keep remembering something from... (none / 0) (#34)
    by EL seattle on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:32:41 AM EST
    ... Alexis de Tocqueville - "There are two things which a democratic people will always find very difficult - to begin a war and to end it."

    Once America fianlly got into WW-II, I don't think that that war "ended" for us until Vietnam.  

    I think that it's natural to consider programs designed to bring significant change from the federal level to be "wars" of a sort.  So it's easy to understand the challenge of actually starting any single program like that, or ending one which might have outlived its purpose.


    Simply NEVER! (none / 0) (#49)
    by koshembos on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:50:41 AM EST

    I think (none / 0) (#76)
    by SOS on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:27:12 AM EST
    President Obama truly cares about our country. And meant what he said.

    The key is. . . will he be able to get us clowns off our asses and doing what we need to do?

    I hope you are kidding.... (5.00 / 1) (#124)
    by Maria Garcia on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 11:42:11 AM EST
    I didn't apply for the job of changing and saving the country. If this is going to be 8 years of blame the people, I don't think its going to work out very well because at some point...no matter who you are....something is going to be your fault.

    If he is going to be a good president, let alone a great one, he needs to set effective policies and make government work. The rest will fall into place, really.


    You applied (none / 0) (#129)
    by indy in sc on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:17:31 PM EST
    when you became a citizen of the country--whether by birth or naturalization.  Every citizen of this country has a responsibility to the country.  Though clearly not everyone sees it that way.  Citizenship comes with burdens as well as privileges.  The government is supposed to be of and by the people.  

    I don't think the government should abdicate its responsibilities by saying the people are resonsible for their own fate (and I don't think Obama is saying that at all)--but I also don't think sitting back and waiting for things to "fall into place" solely on the strength or weakness of government policies works either.  


    This takes me back (5.00 / 1) (#132)
    by Steve M on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:52:56 PM EST
    Good diary! (5.00 / 1) (#154)
    by indy in sc on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:58:00 PM EST
    Thanks for that link.  

    Well who the heck is just sitting back? (5.00 / 1) (#147)
    by Maria Garcia on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:02:21 PM EST
    I resent that implication. Countless people in this country have been doing their part and their parents before them. If you think that we are the problem then I guess you shouldn't blame the Bush administration for the last 8 years either.

    I don't know (5.00 / 0) (#151)
    by indy in sc on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:33:40 PM EST
    where you get from my comment that I think people are the problem.  I tried to convey that people are not the total problem or solution any more than government is the total problem or solution.  I was trying to convey that each plays its part.  And no, I don't think that everything that went wrong in the last 8 years began and ended with Bush--although he certainly did his part to tank things.

    You made it sound as though you don't see any role for people to play in the success or failure of the next 4 years.  If that's not what you meant to convey, I'd be interested in hearing more about your position so that I can better understand it.


    You're right in general. . . (none / 0) (#77)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:28:44 AM EST
    that the day of a speech is a bad time to judge it.  That's even more true with this particular speech which could not possibly fail to be overshadowed by the day -- both the historic nature of Obama's ascendancy and the pregnant sense of collapse (and, hopefully, renewal) that everyone feels.

    I don't know if there was anything Obama could have said that would have made his actual speech (rather than the obvious fact of who was making the speech) instantly memorable.  If such a thing exists, he didn't say it.  Still it was the kind of speech that one can imagine attaining if not "greatness" then certainly a large measure of historical respect.  Depending, in part, on the outcome of events.

    Symbolism and imagery (5.00 / 1) (#96)
    by Coral on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:03:56 AM EST
    is an aspect of rhetoric. And as visual rhetoric, I think the day itself was impressive and memorable. The speech dovetailed with and underlined the imagery and did not overshadow it. Perhaps intentionally.

    So whats expected of Obama? (none / 0) (#95)
    by SOS on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:02:01 AM EST
    We will have money and the ability to spend it on all those useless things we've had in the past, magic new cell phones, DVDs, useless trips to the Caribbean or Mexico, new huge cars, wonderful luxury condos built with lots of plastic that is sure to warp and crack, and other really important objects to delight their jaded tastes???????????


    Useless! (5.00 / 1) (#103)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:17:59 AM EST
    I don't regard a trip to the Caribbean as useless! Living in the midwest and having to deal with the bitter reality of winter, I find a little warmth quite beneficial. I may only get there every few years but I need to dangle the carrot in front of myself to keep going.

    Nice excuse, BTD (none / 0) (#114)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:52:09 AM EST
    Let me see.... "Wait until next year?"

    Excuse the horse laugh.

    Nice excuse, BTD (none / 0) (#115)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:52:29 AM EST
    Let me see.... "Wait until next year?"

    Excuse the horse laugh.

    Heilemann at NY Mag (none / 0) (#144)
    by BackFromOhio on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 01:58:08 PM EST
    has interesting post about Obama's inaugural.


    Yours has too many words, I think this line (none / 0) (#153)
    by vicndabx on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:56:23 PM EST
    will be remembered more; if, as you say it is backed up by action:

    On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

    Particularly, "worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics."  This line allows for broad interpretation that crosses many different lines.  It can be used in every day life, i.e. business, family, etc.

    Of course (none / 0) (#156)
    by Alien Abductee on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 03:34:06 PM EST
    words without actions are just...words. But when words lay out what a problem is, or what the goal is, or what the goal is not, they're more than just words. They become a touchstone for action and a first step toward it - a way to measure progress against both principles and the starting point and to judge whether the progress is staying on course. That's what I saw this speech as. It was blunt and not highflown, and I liked it more than most of his speeches so far. But I'll like the actions it promises much better.