Wednesday, December 2, 2009

George W. Bush vs Barack Obama West Point Speeches

In June 2002, President George W. Bush delivered the graduation speech at West Point. His speech was all about the troops. Seldom did he use the word "I," a stark difference from Obama's speech tonight.



George W. Bush


While Bush's comments were delivered to a graduation class, he was talking to soon-to-be warriors and so he spoke of war, and he acknowledged what was ahead, as well as acknowledging that the "threat" of the current war was "unprecedented. By contrast, Obama spoke of the economic cost of the war. Here's is a portion of President Bush at West Point:
History has also issued its call to your generation. In your last year, America was attacked by a ruthless and resourceful enemy. You graduate from this Academy in a time of war, taking your place in an American military that is powerful and is honorable. Our war on terror is only begun, but in Afghanistan it was begun well. (Applause.)

I am proud of the men and women who have fought on my orders. America is profoundly grateful for all who serve the cause of freedom, and for all who have given their lives in its defense. This nation respects and trusts our military, and we are confident in your victories to come. (Applause.)

This war will take many turns we cannot predict. Yet I am certain of this: Wherever we carry it, the American flag will stand not only for our power, but for freedom. (Applause.) Our nation's cause has always been larger than our nation's defense. We fight, as we always fight, for a just peace -- a peace that favors human liberty. We will defend the peace against threats from terrorists and tyrants. We will preserve the peace by building good relations among the great powers. And we will extend the peace by encouraging free and open societies on every continent.

Building this just peace is America's opportunity, and America's duty. From this day forward, it is your challenge, as well, and we will meet this challenge together. (Applause.) You will wear the uniform of a great and unique country. America has no empire to extend or utopia to establish. We wish for others only what we wish for ourselves -- safety from violence, the rewards of liberty, and the hope for a better life.

In defending the peace, we face a threat with no precedent. Enemies in the past needed great armies and great industrial capabilities to endanger the American people and our nation. The attacks of September the 11th required a few hundred thousand dollars in the hands of a few dozen evil and deluded men. All of the chaos and suffering they caused came at much less than the cost of a single tank. The dangers have not passed. This government and the American people are on watch, we are ready, because we know the terrorists have more money and more men and more plans.
The gravest danger to freedom lies at the perilous crossroads of radicalism and technology. When the spread of chemical and biological and nuclear weapons, along with ballistic missile technology -- when that occurs, even weak states and small groups could attain a catastrophic power to strike great nations. Our enemies have declared this very intention, and have been caught seeking these terrible weapons. They want the capability to blackmail us, or to harm us, or to harm our friends -- and we will oppose them with all our power. (Applause.)...
We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. We cannot put our faith in the word of tyrants, who solemnly sign non-proliferation treaties, and then systemically break them. If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long. (Applause.) 
President Obama's speech tonight was much about Obama:
I opposed the war in Iraq  ...
I believe that we must exercise restraint in the use of military force...
I have signed a letter of condolence to the family of each American who gives their life...
I have read the letters from the parents and spouses of those who deployed...
I have visited our courageous wounded warriors at Walter Reed...
I have travelled to Dover to meet the flag-draped caskets...
I see firsthand the terrible wages of war...
If I did not think that the security of the United States and the safety...
I would gladly order every single one of our troops home tomorrow....
I do not make this decision lightly....
I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake...
I have asked that our commitment be joined...
I want the Afghan people to understand...
I recognize that there are a range of concerns...
I refuse to set goals that go beyond our responsibility...
I must weigh all of the challenges...
I do not have the luxury of committing...
I am mindful of the words of President Eisenhower...
I took office the cost of the wars  ...
I am committed to addressing these costs openly and honestly...
I will work closely with Congress...
I have made it a central pillar of my foreign policy...
I have spent this year renewing...
I have prohibited torture and...
I also know that we, as a country,...
I refuse to accept the notion...
I believe with every fiber of my being...
Read a few more very odd things about Obama's West Point speech here.



Related:
Obama's West Point Afghanistan Speech Transcript: Breaking it down

Chris Matthews West Point is Enemy Camp video



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