In times of epic sadness it is often the gift of somber eloquence that helps to buoy the spirits of the throng. To reassure, to comfort, to join in dispair, and to raise up from the same. As Marc Ambinder points out, the President surely did that today. You can read the full text of his remarks there.
Theirs are tales of American men and women answering an extraordinary call - the call to serve their comrades, their communities, and their country. In an age of selfishness, they embody responsibility. In an era of division, they call upon us to come together. In a time of cynicism, they remind us of who we are as Americans.We are a nation that endures because of the courage of those who defend it. We saw that valor in those who braved bullets here at Fort Hood, just as surely as we see it in those who signed up knowing that they would serve in harm's way.
Absolutely. I'd like to have a look at another paragraph, however.
It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy. But this much we do know - no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor. And for what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice - in this world, and the next.
While it would have been completely inappropriate on this solemn occasion for the President to point out that, yes, there does seem to be one faith in particular where it is more commonplace for its adherents to justify such murderous and craven acts, it will be appropriate and also justifiable to do so in the future. In particular, it will be helpful for him to do so in reference to Major Hasan. In doing so he'll help the large number of journalists and observers struggling to avoid drawing - not jumping to - that inescapable and supported conclusion.
"We don't know all the answers yet," the Associated Press quotes President Obama as saying Friday about the Fort Hood massacre. "And I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts."
Not only is the president right, his advice is tautological. Premature judgment is ill-advised by definition. But one senses in much of the commentary about suspect Nidal Malik Hasan a desire to avoid considered judgment as well--not just a reluctance to jump to conclusions, but a drive to go far out of one's way to avoid ever reaching one particular conclusion.
If a physician were to spend an inordinate amount of time, effort and money desperately searching for an alternative diagnosis when the obvious and well-supported one is uncomfortable then ultimately he or she would be committing malpractice. Journalistic - and political - malpractice is no less objectionable.
11/11/09 0625: Dan Riehl makes the point that the speech thing is the one thing that Mr. Obama happens to do very well, so let's not get too excited. Well, yeah.
It's simply embarrassing. But the fact is, this is all they've got. And it's the same thing we saw day after day on the campaign trail. So what? His stimulus package was a dismal failure, his health care bail will likely crash into the Senate and burn, and his popularity ratings are beginning to sag while his policy ratings suck.
However, man, he gave a heck of a speech. How awesome is that?