Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Obama’s Tucson address

I was pretty impressed by President Obama’s speech in Tucson last night, which struck this citizen as having the right tone and saying the right things. As an observer, and particularly as someone who on a cloudy April day some decades ago courted his future wife with a date on the Gettysburg battlefield, where we ...

Image: Wikimedia
Image: Wikimedia
Image: Wikimedia

I was pretty impressed by President Obama's speech in Tucson last night, which struck this citizen as having the right tone and saying the right things.

As an observer, and particularly as someone who on a cloudy April day some decades ago courted his future wife with a date on the Gettysburg battlefield, where we picnicked on chicken salad and white wine near the Zouaves monument, I also was struck by the echoes of Lincoln's address there. "There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts," the president said in Tucson last night. (Hmm, I thought -- is he riffing on "we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground"?)

"How can we honor the fallen? How can we be true to their memory?" Obama asked. (Hey! "It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us.…")

I was pretty impressed by President Obama’s speech in Tucson last night, which struck this citizen as having the right tone and saying the right things.

As an observer, and particularly as someone who on a cloudy April day some decades ago courted his future wife with a date on the Gettysburg battlefield, where we picnicked on chicken salad and white wine near the Zouaves monument, I also was struck by the echoes of Lincoln’s address there. "There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts," the president said in Tucson last night. (Hmm, I thought — is he riffing on "we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground"?)

"How can we honor the fallen? How can we be true to their memory?" Obama asked. (Hey! "It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us.…")

"Gabby called it Congress on Your Corner, just an updated version of government of and by and for the people." (I call that a shout-out to "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.")

I also was impressed by the introductory benediction, given by Dr. Carlos Gonzalez, I think. I loved the allusion to the wrongs done to Native Americans, followed by his insistence on his love of country — and a mention that he has a son serving in Afghanistan.

I am not going to say anything about Sarah Palin because I have nothing good to say.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.