Escalation of Policy, De-Escalation of Rhetoric

Whodda thunk that one of President Obama’s great contributions during his first year would be to tamp down the spikes of Presidential rhetoric.  Certainly not I.

Sayeth Hendrick Hertzberg in The New Yorker, about the President’s speech at West Point last week:

His grimly businesslike speech was a gritty, almost masochistic exercise in the taking of responsibility. What he had to say did not please everyone; indeed, it pleased no one. Given the situation bequeathed to him and to the nation, pleasure was not an option. His speech was a sombre appeal to reason, not a rousing call to arms. If his argument was less than fully persuasive, that was in the nature of the choices before him. There is no such thing as an airtight argument for a bad choice—not if the argument is made with a modicum of honesty.

Someone else commented this week that this plank of the Obama Doctrine constitutes something akin to widening of means and the narrowing of ends.  My apologies to the author, but it’s a good thought.


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