Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Obama's New Strategy for a New World

James Fallows (Editor, The Atlantic) on this speech:

Executive summary: any speech that begins and ends with allusions to George C. Marshall's vision 60 years ago is quoting the right authority but setting a high standard for itself. This is a speech rather than a whole implemented years-long program, in contrast to the great Marshall's achievement. But as a speech it stands up very well and deserves to be read and absorbed in toto rather than relying on news clips.


Some visions are intelligent and benign. Other visions are stupid and malevolent. "Where there is no vision … the people perish," the Good Book says. Where there is a defective vision, people perish too. In a democracy, it is up to the people themselves to make the fateful choice.
Schlesinger, January, 2004

This is a long video, over half an hour. If the reader is among those who have already made up minds you should move on to something else. Watching this speech will only cause frustration. As Fallows said, if you don't take time to hear it for yourself you will miss many points.

For the first time in my adult life a presidential candidate is speaking in paragraphs as well as sound bites. Barack Obama has no problem with "the vision thing" which Schlesinger wrote about at the link above.

As I said more formally a moment ago, we are remote from the scene of these troubles. It is virtually impossible at this distance merely by reading, or listening, or even seeing photographs or motion pictures, to grasp at all the real significance of the situation. And yet the whole world of the future hangs on a proper judgment. It hangs, I think, to a large extent on the realization of the American people, of just what are the various dominant factors. What are the reactions of the people? What are the justifications of those reactions? What are the sufferings? What is needed? What can best be done? What must be done?
The Marshall Plan speech, June, 1947

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