Friday, June 05, 2009

A Tale of Two Speeches

Before I begin, I wish to credit AK Muckraker's post at Mudflats in which she transcribes Sarah Palin's recent speech introducing Michael Reagan. If you are unfamiliar with the fullness of Sarah's word salad, you really ought to read the whole thing.

And the quotes from President Obama's recent speech to the world given in Cairo, Egypt, are taken from the transcription provided at Huffington Post.

On one side of the world, Sarah Palin cheers on Michael Reagan. He is the son of a former President and a vehement proponent of killing mothers and babies who believe in Islam by stuffing a hand grenade up their butts... This is who Sarah Palin -- supposedly an avid "pro-life" person -- applauds and cheers on:

On the other side of the world, we see our President making the case for a new beginning in the hope that we can identify those principles we share instead of harping on those notions that separate us. See Obama's video in my last post.

Let's compare the speeches. I would not embarrass Sarah Palin so, except for this: she has given no assurance that she rejects the notion of running for a national political office in the future, and the Sarasites who adore her seem to truly believe she is well-suited for a national political office. On, then, to the comparison.

Opening paragraphs -- Sarah's will be in red, Obama's in blue. Keep your favorite grammar book handy:

We have an awesome guest, a guest who is affecting our culture in such a positive way. We need him to keep on being bold and we’re counting on Michael Reagan to help educate America.

I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt's advancement. Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I am grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum.

Fair enough... Sarah is introducing an extremist right wing talk show host before an audience of maybe 400, and President Obama is speaking to the Arab peoples and the rest of the world before an audience of millions.

Let's get more into the meat of these speeches. Please read carefully and apply headache remedy as needed for the red text:

Today the things that some in Washington would do to take away our freedoms, it’s absolutely astounding, and we would do so well to look back on those Reagan years as he championed the cause for freedom and then he lived it out as our president - cheerfully, persistently and unapologetically. Reagan knew that real change and real change requiring shaking things up and maybe takin’ off the entrenched interest thwarting the will of the people with their ignoring of our concerns about future peril caused by selfish short-sighted advocacy for growing government and digging more debt, and taking away individual and state’s rights and hampering opportunity to responsibly develop our resources, and coddling those who would seek to harm America and her allies.

I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles - principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

And again, more contrast:

What Newt had written in this article, he wrote “remember how refreshing it was with his outrageous directness that Americans loved, and praised and deserved” that Reagan dealt with, with then the troublesome Soviet Union, remember this? His vision for the Cold War? We win, they lose.

For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers - for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.

And this closing message:

Friends, we need to be aware of the creation of a fearful population, and of fearful lawmakers being led to believe that big government is the answer to bail out the private sector because then goverment gets to get in there and control it and, mark my words, this is going to happen next I fear, bail out next debt-ridden states, then government gets to get in there and control the people, and watch what happens there. Michael, maybe you want to talk about your home state California. We’ll see what happens there but you know it’s…. aaaaa!…. for the love of God you’ve got to ask yourself where we got off track?

It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples - a belief that isn't new; that isn't black or white or brown; that isn't Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It's a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It's a faith in other people, and it's what brought me here today.

Sarah can't hold a candle to Barack. Not in style, certainly not in substance, and definitely not in spirit. Sarah is all about blaming and dividing. We recognize this personality because we learned it well during GWBush's years in office. Sarah is all about fear and loathing and calling on us to buy guns and ammo and build fallout shelters. She's all about that because she has no inkling of any other way but the isolationist, us versus them way. She is afraid. She cannot deal with anything outside her own small sphere because she doesn't have the wisdom or the education to realize that all human beings have common aims and dreams and hopes. She doesn't know that we need each other. Sarah asks us to be afraid along with her.

Barack asks us to step outside any fear and see truth.

Sarah couldn't put a cohesive speech together by herself if her life depended on it.

Barack not only can think and write and speak cohesively, he does so with a humility and graciousness that Sarah has never touched and probably will never know.

One speech makes us shudder and cower and clutch that which we feel is most dear. The other speech lifts our spirits and opens our hearts and encourages us to extend our hands in greeting and good wishes to our neighbors.

Two speeches, two entirely different attitudes. Which will have the more positive impact on our lives and our future?
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