Posts Tagged ‘spoke

29
Mar
11

‘speaking from the gut’

Peter Beinart (Daily Beast): In his speech, the president spoke from the gut, giving us his distinctive vision of American exceptionalism.

John Bolton recently said that Barack Obama doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism. Tonight, Obama answered. “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries,” Obama declared, in justifying the intervention in Libya. “The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”

Obama’s is a different version of American exceptionalism. For men like Bolton, American virtue is a given. American presidents should never apologize because America never has anything to apologize for. Our mistakes are never crimes, and if others don’t see our moral greatness that just proves their moral cynicism.

Obama, by contrast, because he can see America through post-colonial eyes, knows this is a fable. He knows that in many places on earth, America has abetted dictatorship and corruption and slaughter. In some cases he has apologized, which has led men like Bolton to claim that he sees America as no different from any other great power.

But they don’t get it. For Obama, American exceptionalism is not a fact; it is a struggle. Bolton and company like to invoke World War II and the Cold War because in those conflicts we fought the evil that lay out there. Obama, by contrast, often invokes the civil-rights movement: a struggle against the evil within. That’s what makes his Libya decision powerful. He knows that there are good reasons for Middle Easterners to fear when they see American planes overhead. And yet he is acting to show that it does not have to be that way.

I don’t know how Obama’s Libya intervention will end; in his speech, he made it seem tidier than it really is. But the speech had something notably absent from his addresses on Afghanistan: the ring of authenticity. When he said that he refused to sit by and watch Benghazi be raped, he sounded like a man speaking from the gut. Obama does not romanticize the history of American power and yet he is wielding American power. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

09
Feb
11

joy

MSNBC: Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has recovered enough from a bullet to the brain to ask for toast with breakfast. Few details are available, but Pia Carusone, Giffords’ chief of staff, confirmed that the congresswoman made the verbal request on Monday when hospital workers at TIRR Memorial Hermann brought her a meal…

Though small, the request marks a milestone for the congresswoman … In a Facebook update on Tuesday, her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, said that Giffords is eating three meals a day and enjoying it, “even though it’s hospital food.”

Doctors at Giffords’ Houston rehabilitation center on Tuesday said that she’s recovering well and that they hope she can make enough progress to attend her husband’s space shuttle launch in April.

….”The doctors say she is recovering at lightning speed considering her injury but they aren’t kidding when they say this is a marathon process,” Kelly wrote on Facebook. “There are encouraging signs every day, though.”




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