Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama and JFK 1961

Let's see if Obama can live up to this. Does he have a speechwriter as good as Ted Sorensen? (Sorensen on Obama: more like JFK than any politician of our time.)

"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 … Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty."

“Now the trumpet summons us again — not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not a call to battle, though embattled we are — but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out …”

“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate …”

Note added: I thought Obama's speech was good, not great. There were some echoes of JFK 1961. But Obama's speech had too many lists, details, sub-clauses. It reminded me of a Clinton speech (another law school grad) -- making a case, trying to pack everything in. Sometimes less is more -- a detailed argument seldom rises to the highest level of oratory.

My favorite parts:

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.


Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West, endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.


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 we are ready to lead once more.


And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.


To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.

To those...


To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.


Our challenges may be new, the instruments with which we meet them may be new, but those values upon which our success depends, honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old.


And God bless the United States of America.


Bee said...

I think the speech was pretty good!

Anonymous said...

First use of the word "science" in an inaugural address ?

"We will restore science to its rightful place"

It's a start...

Anonymous said...

Obama is just another puppet of the Jews.

locksmith mesa said...

Obama = puppet of the Jews?? Why ya?

Anonymous said...

That was a joke for my Jewish friends.

There has always been excitement when a new president is elected. Millard Filmore was "bigger than Jesus".

They always disappoint. "This time it's different. Obama is different." Wrong. In six months Obama's approval rating will be as low as Bush's is now.

Anonymous said...

"Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things"

That seemed like it should have said "the Creators" but was edited as to not offend religious types.

It's also the first presidential speech that acknowledges non-believers as part of the nation.

Anonymous said...

Obama: Jews :: Mbeki and Mandella: Nicky Oppenheimer

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