Obama Trip Offers Audacity and 'Hope,' But Will It Bring Action?
By Ben Pershing
Yesterday around this time, President Obama was delivering an historic speech to the Muslim world, an address that included tough words for Israel and recognition that "the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable." Roughly an hour from now, Obama will pay tribute to victims of the Holocaust by touring Buchenwald concentration camp with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The contrast between Thursday's agenda and today's neatly encapsulates the ambitious scope of Obama's trip. Of course, yesterday's address mixed empathy for the Palestinians with a firm defense of Israel's right to exist. And it included both veiled criticisms of his predecessor's policies and a broader defense of America's efforts to combat terror. So is the president trying to be all things to all people? Is this arrogance or, to borrow from a book title, audacity?
The Economist called the Cairo speech "a superb oratorical performance" that "will bring hope across the Middle East and farther afield." But The Washington Post reports that "his efforts to use new language to recast old grievances have already prompted debate and consternation in some quarters." And words aside, what will Obama actually do next on the several fronts covered in his address? "Despite his often soaring rhetoric, the president actually outlined a strategic agenda for U.S. interests that is narrowly defined and limited in scope," Robert Satloff writes in The New Republic.
Posted at 8:30 AM ET on Jun 5, 2009
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