Sunday, May 1, 2011

Marking the Moment

Tonight President Obama marked a pivotal moment in American history - the killing of Osama Bin Laden - with a magnificently understated yet powerful speech. The speech hit every note perfectly and spoke to the gravity of the announcement without arrogance or celebration.

He connected the victory to the heart-wrenching deaths of 3000 Americans and the empty spaces left at their family dinner tables and inside their loved one's hearts. He honored the service of every brave American who had contributed to the war on terror, many of whose names will never be known. He wove a thread between this event and our national pride as Americans - that we will never bow to tyrants or give up the search for the murderers of our citizens.

This was Barack Obama's signature presidential speech.

Lincoln had the Gettyburg Address. FDR had his Pearl Harbor speech. Reagan had his Challenger speech. Kennedy had his Berlin speech. George W. Bush had his address to Congress after 9/11. To that pantheon we must add this speech, not in terms of soaring rhetoric, but in terms of the historic combination of message, moment and man.

Certain speeches make Presidents seem tall and others seem small. This speech highlighted President Obama's ability to switch gears from the levity of the White House Correspondent's Dinner to the seriousness of tonight. He was able to display great humor and trump his detractors deftly, all the while knowing full well what was afoot back in the Situation Room at the White House.

Congratulations Mr. President. You nailed this speech and delivered the message directly into the camera - to all of us.

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