Another Speech If We are Quiet Enough to Hear

Petraeus’ speech follows in the tradition of others we have linked on this site. The great old rhetoric may not be as effective in our media-soaked age where all voices are blurred by the white noise that surrounds us (and some of it is more than white noise – it grabs at us even as we read). These may, indeed, be speeches for another era – but I suspect its listeners did listen, knowing a quiet in which such words stand alone.

(Instapundit linked to Mona Charen at The Corner.) Speech below.

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SOTU Links – Offered for Comment

Bush’s State of Union (with streaming video).

Webb’s response. Also on Drudge.

Michael Gerson speaks for himself (though where his loyalty lies remain clear).  So often his precision, more articulate than Bush’s own, led to our understanding the person who spoke them.  (Yes, I wish our presidents wrote their own speeches, but in the end it is Webb’s inconsistency rather than his hoary cliches that poses a problem.)

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Speech 4 – Woodrow Wilson Center

Today’s speech noted the distinction between those who were for Bush and those who, believing in the mission in Iraq, were willing to give up not only life on the fast track but life itself:

One of these men was a Marine lieutenant named Ryan McGlothlin, from Lebanon, Virginia. Ryan was a bright young man who had everything going for him and he always wanted to serve our nation. He was a valedictorian of his high school class. He graduated from William & Mary with near-perfect grade averages, and he was on a full scholarship at Stanford, where he was working toward a doctorate in chemistry.

Two years after the attacks of September the 11th, the young man who had the world at his feet came home from Stanford for a visit. He told his dad, “I just don’t feel like I’m doing something that matters. I want to serve my country. I want to protect our lands from terrorists, so I joined the Marines.” When his father asked him if there was some other way to serve, Ryan replied that he felt a special obligation to step up because he had been given so much. Ryan didn’t support me in the last election, but he supported our mission in Iraq. And he supported his fellow Marines.

Ryan was killed last month fighting the terrorists near the — Iraq’s Syrian border. In his pocket was a poem that Ryan had read at his high school graduation, and it represented the spirit of this fine Marine. The poem was called “Don’t Quit.”

We need to remember – indeed, so do others – that such people see something bigger than Bush. (And what they share with him is that he, too, sees that.)

Bush’s Speech – Links

Bush’s speech, transcript & video. Here, he acknowledges feelings the pundits often try to quantify, but moves on to a firm conclusion:

There’s always a temptation, in the middle of a long struggle, to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world, and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder. This would be a pleasant world, but it’s not the world we live in. The enemy is never tired, never sated, never content with yesterday’s brutality. This enemy considers every retreat of the civilized world as an invitation to greater violence. In Iraq, there is no peace without victory. We will keep our nerve and we will win that victory.

Barone’s take.

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Links to Speech

Update: Instapundit & Sensing are disturbed by the passage:

It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forcesthe institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moments notice.

I suspect their fears that such changes would endanger the power of the states is reasonable. I also suspect that they but not NPR are in a position to complain about such encroachments: the latter repeatedly accused Bush of not acting swiftly not powerfully enough. I don’t know much about federalism or disaster relief, but I do suspect the best policy will not be defined by the nature of one of the worst possible natural disasters that took place in our most lawless, most poverty-stricken, most racially-divided, and most corrupt city (is that unfair to New Orleans? Maybe).

Bush’s speech, in blue in Jackson Square. Gerson tugs our heartstrings, but this often comes from the sweep of history with which he surrounds the present. The blue background was echoed in Bush’s shirt and the sense of big sky country – of a broad and hopeful horizon – went with the speech:

In the life of this nation, we have often been reminded that nature is an awesome force and that all life is fragile. We are the heirs of men and women who lived through those first terrible winters at Jamestown and Plymouth, who rebuilt Chicago after a great fire, and San Francisco after a great earthquake, who reclaimed the prairie from the dust bowl of the 1930s.

Every time, the people of this land have come back from fire, flood, and storm to build anew — and to build better than what we had before. Americans have never left our destiny to the whims of nature, and we will not start now. [italics inserted]

But then, in conclusion, the trope became all New Orleans:

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