Thursday, June 4, 2009

Purple prose of Cairo

Just kidding. I'm a fool for wordplay.

I've read the President's speech, and a lot of synopses of the reaction to it, mostly courtesy of Andrew Sullivan. I thought the speech hit all the right notes. I also think that it's sad that this is such a big deal. As Obama himself said, these were only words. Yet they reveal the clearheaded, honest, and right thinking of which no president has been capable in my 38 years. Some wanted more constructive proposals, and in theory, so do I. But high-level meetings, more than this speech, are probably the place for them. And like so many things about this president, our past shame makes his baby steps bigger than they seem to his detractors.

Most of the criticism I've read -- especially from Israeli hard-liners -- misses the point tragically. It betrays the expectations the speakers had of the speech going in, and they come off like some idiot parent making noises of disgust when his kid strikes out in his first Little League at-bat. More, it betrays a complete lack of nuance. Nuance was the subtext of the speech; it was a call to see things in shades of gray, if not color. Many of the critics you can read today failed to answer, showing a lack of some combination of imagination, integrity, fairness, and intelligence. I now see why Sullivan is spending column inches writing off the Israeli hawks; they sound increasingly like the wingnuts in this country. The wingnuts are draining their party of supporters; fewer identify themselves as Republicans every day. Politicians and commentators in Israel, which I once supported blindly, would do well to pay attention, in the interest of survival, if they can't manage any interest in fairness.

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