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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 30, 2013 / 27 Elul, 5773

The preacher and the politician

By Michael Gerson



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | A speech at the Lincoln Memorial, on the 50th anniversary of perhaps the greatest American speech since Lincoln breathed his last, is a speechwriter's nightmare. It is comparable to crafting Memorial Day remarks for delivery at Gettysburg, or coming up with a new angle for a speech at Pointe du Hoc. The historical stage is already fully occupied. It is like lighting a bonfire on the surface of the sun.

The Rev. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech was not only an example of skilled rhetoric; it was a moment of culmination. It was the culmination of a literary form: African-American preaching -- practiced by four generations of the King family -- with its weaving of the King James cadences, folk spirituals and patriotic texts. It was the culmination of America's defining historical struggle: a century of African-American demands for the fulfillment of national promises made at emancipation, betrayed during Reconstruction and mocked by segregation. And it was the culmination of a distinctly American type of leadership: the revolutionary conservative. The speech managed to be both radical and reassuring -- demanding freedom now, precisely because our founding ideals admitted no other course.

This fulfillment of craft, history and leadership seemed less like a speech than a birth, or, more precisely, the kind of national rebirth that also took place at Gettysburg. Both Lincoln and King demonstrated the most remarkable power of rhetoric: the power of trauma given meaning. Both summarized and summoned forces beyond themselves. Georg Friedrich Hegel talked of a "world spirit" that mediates universal ideals through the instrument of great men. King and his contemporaries saw a different spirit at work. Before his Lincoln Memorial speech, an aide told King, "Look Martin, let the Lord lead you. You go on and do what the Spirit say do."



During President Obama's Lincoln Memorial speech, he affirmed that "No one can match King's brilliance." And the president wisely did not try. But his speech showed signs of serious craft. Obama paid homage to King's cadences -- "Because they kept marching ... " -- without straining to compete with them. He found a way to mention his own historical role -- "and, yes, eventually the White House changed" -- without sounding messianic. And he subtly downplayed comparisons to King by drawing attention to the movement that produced the March on Washington -- "men and women without rank or wealth or title or fame" who would "liberate us all."

The most instructive contrast is not between two speeches separated by half a century, but between two leaders. In 1963, King was introduced by A. Philip Randolph as "the moral leader of the nation." Obama is a successful but polarizing Democratic politician. King sought to focus and sharpen ethical choices; Obama takes pride in seeing moral complexities. King set out a millennial vision of equality and national healing; Obama talks of health reform, the minimum wage and helping the middle class.

This shift in leadership is, itself, a kind of historical fulfillment. No president can be a millenarian moralist in the same way a preacher can. The nation would quickly grow tired of trumpet calls and church bells. With great power come mundane responsibilities.

But Obama's speech showed some of his signature weaknesses in the discharge of those responsibilities. His tone was inclusive and gracious -- until he considered his political opponents. They marshal "an army of lobbyists and opinion makers" to undermine the interests of working families. They tell us that greed is "good," and "compassion ineffective," and those without jobs or health care have "only themselves to blame." What possessed the president, in the midst of a fine speech, to employ language appropriate to the Democratic National Convention? However accurate or inaccurate you regard these charges, it is not a good sign when polarization seeps into ceremonial celebrations.

And another weakness was on display. President Obama is correct in his diagnosis of the economic challenge that lies beyond legal equality: "Upward mobility has become harder." And he is correct in identifying the drags on mobility -- failed education, broken families and the structural problems caused by technology and globalization. But his time in office so far will hardly be remembered as a period of innovation in encouraging opportunity and the creation of social capital. The president can blame Republican obstruction. But that does not explain the general absence of creative policy.

As the president said, we have traveled far since the March on Washington, only to arrive at different challenges. But our politics seems unequal to them on every side.

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Previously:



08/27/13 Is Obama's oft-cited best-case scenario in Syria still even possible?
08/23/13 Jordan's wary welcome
08/20/13 The hardest goodbye: A parent letting go
08/16/13 For GOP, opposition shouldn't only mean obstruction
08/13/13 Crazy, humane determination creates breakthrough for millions
08/09/13 America's bubble of complacency
07/01/11 The GOP's ideal America
03/04/11 The last doughboy and the emergence of a great nation
03/01/11 Conservatives shouldn't be so surprised by freedom
02/22/11 The progression of pain
02/18/11 The seriousness primary
02/11/11 Do Egypt's protests mean American decline?
01/27/11 No-bend Obama
01/21/11 Two good arguments for civility -- and passion -- in politics
01/11/11 Obama's staff changes give him a second chance
01/11/11 Is Arizona shooting an empty search for meaning?
01/07/11 WikiLeaks gives dangerous ammunition to a tyrant
01/04/11 Michael Vick: Symbol of the second chance
12/28/10 Social Security reform is the answer to Obama's problems --- and the nation's
12/21/10 When foreign policy realism isn't realistic
12/17/10 When it comes to politics, Obama's ego keeps getting in the way
11/26/10 Libs resort to conspiracy theories to explain Obama's problems
11/19/10 With Holder at the helm, detainee policy is a disaster
11/12/10 Blue-state budget crises spell even more trouble for Dems
10/19/10 Obama the snob
10/12/10 Seeds of victory in Afghanistan
10/05/10 Believers' remorse
10/04/10 Pound-foolish on national security
09/28/10 Babylon on the Potomac
09/27/10 Our reluctant commander in chief
09/21/10 Blue strongholds are becoming Democratic graveyards
09/17/10 For the GOP, a bittersweet brew from the Tea Party
09/15/10: Insanity's great enablers
09/13/10: The lost communicator
09/08/10: Will 2010 midterms be 1994 all over again?
09/01/10: Obama's economic wandering
08/27/10: Miracles from abroad
08/25/10: Address these issues in order to strengthen the Tea Party
08/20/10: The lost promise of Barack Obama
07/23/10: Obama's greatest nightmare
02/04/09: The Reality of Innocence
01/07/09: The Risks in Obama's Ambitions
12/31/08: Support Obama Will Need
06/13/08: Prince Charles, Organic Conservatism Icon
06/11/08: No longer a bankrupt political joke but still overshadowed
04/23/08: McCain's anger management
04/10/08: A Country for Old Men
03/06/08: Does the America Need a Hug?
03/06/08: Obama's First 100 Days
02/29/08: Words Aren't Cheap
02/22/08: He Said, They Said
02/20/08: Dying silently in Zimbabwe
02/15/08: Hillary's Unappealing Path
02/13/08: NATO's Afghan Stumbles
02/08/08: Why McCain Endures
02/06/08: One surge that led to another
02/01/08: In North Korea, Process Over Progress
01/30/08: Compassionate to the end


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