Tag Archives: Speeches

Obama accepts Nobel Peace Prize … and the moral necessity of war?


Obama accepted his Nobel Peace Prize, and did it with a rather unusual defense of just war. Following is an excerpt:

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago – “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life’s work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak –nothing passive – nothing naïve – in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

The rest of the speech is online here (and a billion other places). I thought it was a very astute distinction between the role of social critic (MLK, Ghandi, Bobby) and the moral obligations of a head of state.


Notes From an Undecided Voter #2 – Looking and Sounding the Part

Dear Senator McCain,

I like you.  You seem like a cool cat, honestly.  Your sacrifices in Vietnam are indeed staggering.  Your sense of duty, and honor, and loyalty to your friends is inspiring.  I sincerely wish you had won the primaries in 2000.  I think you would have made a far superior president then Dubya, and this is coming from a guy who was an apologist… at first.  

It’s cool that you have a sense of humor and all, that you’re having fun with the age issue, trying to deflect it and not come off as an old fart.  I get that.  

However…  our nation is in desperate need of someone who looks and sounds presidential.  I know… I know… it’s all opinion and subjective.  Welcome to the 21st century, Senator.  Love it, or hate it, perception is important.  For the past eight years, most of us in this country have grown increasingly nervous every time our fair leader opens his mouth.  More often than not, those of us who spent the first few years of this new millennium arguing about liberal media bias and presuppositions about intelligence and accents, were rewarded for our good faith by an uninterrupted string of… well… pretty moronic statements.   

Senator, remember when The President of The United States represented the pinnacle of the American ideal?  My wife and I saw an old video or Reagan, and love him or hate him, that homeboy was poised.  He was noble.  He was… presidential.  

Our economy is in the toilet, and people need a psychological lift.  Yes, I know that I’m talking in hippy-dippy fashion, but we live in a hippy-dippy world, and we can thank your generation for that, can’t we?  The economy, and really anything involving representative money, is a fragile agreement between parties.  People need to feel hopeful.  People need nobility.  I am not an expert on economic concerns, but I am an avid student of people, and I’m telling you… this is really important to our country right now.  We need a lift.  I know that we’re a nation of whiners, but we’re your whiners.  Leaders must rise to whatever unfortunate circumstances greet them, or frankly, I think they’re whiny leaders, and whiny leaders are the worst whiners of all.  

So, Senator, if you’d like my vote, you gotta punch up your public persona a tad.  I think that perhaps the best thing your opponent has going for you is that he gives a hellava speech.  Stop harassing him about it, and learn from him.  Tell your speechwriters to stop pandering to the base.  Tell them to write you a real speech.  Give me John Adams.  Give me Roosevelt.  Give me a president that I can point to and say, “That’s the leader of my country, and by God I am proud to live here.”  

Be bold, and take a place in the great pantheon of American orators.  

Whatever you do, don’t sing “Bomb Iran” again.