By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Critiquing Obama’s speech in Egypt

They don’t come any dumber than U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla. In a piece on local reaction to President Obama’s speech in Egypt, Inhofe tells his hometown newspaper, “There has never been a documented case of torture at Guantanamo” and “I just don’t know whose side he’s on.” (Via TPMDC.)

On the other hand, New York Times columnist David Brooks gets right to the heart of the contradictions in Obama’s speech, writing:

This speech builds an idealistic facade on a realist structure. And this gets to the core Obama foreign-policy perplexity. The president wants to be an inspiring leader who rallies the masses. He also wants be a top-down realist who cuts deals in the palaces. There is a tension between these two impulses that even a sharp Chicago pol is having trouble managing.

My own reaction: underwhelmed, despite the characteristically first-rate craftsmanship and delivery. I couldn’t really articulate why, but I definitely think Brooks is on to it.

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10 Comments

  1. SluggahJells

    Dan, I sort of agree, but in terms of Brooks, I wished you didn't use him. Brooks always has an agenda as a conservative voice, and is dishonest plenty of times. http://www.thewholedelivery.com/2009/06/cornucopia-of-realism-in-cairo-today.htmlI thought a massive thing to highlight in yesterday's speech was the fact that he started using the "T" word, "torture", again. It will be interesting to see if he continues to reuse that word instead of the distorting and dishonest "techniques" to describe the illegal crimes of the Cheney/Bush Administration. Great blog by the way!

  2. Don, American

    I thought the characterization of "flattery" of Muslims that I heard on TV (source forgotten) was right on target.

  3. Bill H.

    Don, American: What did Obama say about Muslims that was untrue or "flattering?" The true test of the speech will be what results it brings. Until then, give him a chance.

  4. Eoin

    Speaking of tension between impulses…"The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire.""Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed."

  5. O-FISH-L

    Inhofe? Brooks? NBC anchor and managing editor Brian Williams bowed down to the President on camera and that's enough for me. Obama must indeed be the Messiah, with the fourth estate acting like this.www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLYtHHxTTmc

  6. Al

    … I love how the cons call Obama the messiah… seems as though that's how Reagan was regarded back in the 80s. Ever since he shuffled off the mortal coil (5 years ago yesterday in fact), the deification process has only intensified

  7. Marc Larocque

    I think Eoin has a good point. He tells the Palestinians to renounce violence but not for the Israelis to stop their heavy-handed military suppression of civilians who protest the separation wall, for instance, along with the perpetuation of violence through constant harassment as well as dehumanizing or de-legitimizing all the Palestinians for voting in a resistance faction such as Hamas.But, for his effort to connect with Muslims and ease the tension between the West and the people of Islam, I applaud the speech. I though it was the most interesting speech I've ever heard from a president. His quotations from the Koran were key and his outlining of the important place that Muslims have in the history and culture of the United States was soothing.

  8. Nial Liszt

    **… I love how the cons call Obama the messiah…**Evan Thomas of Newsweek concurs — Obama is "sort of God".

  9. Zapp

    His speech was full of mistakes and inaccuracies. Wake up people. Wake up to the lies.

  10. mike_b1

    I remember when His Highness George W. Bush said to Jim Lehrer of his brother, "My brother, Jeb, the great governor of Texas."Yes, we so miss King George.

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