Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Spot of Change

Rude Pundit:

Here's how you know the way things have changed. In his September 14, 2001 speech at a prayer service for 9/11 victims, George W. Bush said that America's "responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil." And today, Barack Obama, in contrast, offered a less utopian view of the future: "We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes."

In the second half of the speech, Obama laid out his ideas for he called "a just peace." Elimination of nuclear weapons, support of human rights, and social development, good, clear liberal goals all, are the basis of this peace. And what he did in this section was to subtly curve the speech towards America as equal partner with other nations, not as arrogant spreader of wealth and democracy. Indeed, the sense of this part was that America ain't what it once was, and it needs to work with the rest of the world: "[I]n a world in which threats are more diffuse, and missions more complex, America cannot act alone. This is true in Afghanistan. This is true in failed states like Somalia, where terrorism and piracy is joined by famine and human suffering. And sadly, it will continue to be true in unstable regions for years to come." For most of the rest of the speech, America is barely mentioned at all, and, after exhortations of the need for the simplicity of love in the world, inspired by Martin Luther King, among others, Obama ended with the word "Earth."

One of the attacks on liberalism is that it's too eggheaded, too concerned with seeing all sides of an issue, with all that fucking nuance. And no doubt, even as the Rude Pundit types this, others are leaping at the speech as "dull" or lacking emotion. They're missing the point. The President articulated a vision of the future, tempered by acknowledgment of our reality. Essentially, Obama went to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony to accept the accolade, and, instead, he asked the world to help him earn it.

I am Frank Chow and I approved this message

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