“We Can See The Light Of A New Day On The Horizon”

by Jamison Koehler on May 2, 2012

Kevin Lamarque/AP

If you have ever read this blog before, you know I am a big fan of President Obama. I mean, really big fan.

I have defended him against accusations that he is trying to use the first-anniversary of Osama Bin Ladin’s killing for political purposes. As for Mitt Romney’s claim that even President Carter would have ordered the raid, my response is:  Yes, but Carter would have halved the number of helicopters and Navy seals involved so as to not send the wrong signal.  And then the mission would have failed when the first helicopter experienced problems.

I mean, come on, you have got to give Obama some credit.

But I cannot defend the statement Obama made yesterday promising U.S. troops that “[h]ere, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon.”

For one thing, it is a remarkably trite turn-of-phrase for a President who is probably the best orator we have had since John F. Kennedy. Having long admired the President’s speechmaking ability, I understand that he is unusually hands-on when it comes to the drafting process. I understand also that the Obama speechwriters has managed to avoid the bureaucratic bickering and paralysis that has plagued every other speechwriting team since 1963.  (In What I Saw at the Revolution, Peggy Noonan described how the White House “mice” tried to change her quotation used in Reagan’s Challenger speech – “broke the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God” — to “they reached out and touched somebody.”)

So, whose great idea was this line?

For another thing, it is entirely unclear what President Obama meant by “new day.”

If he is assuring troops that they will soon be out of that miserable, backward-looking country and out of harm’s way, then, yes, for those troops, let’s hope it is a new day.

If he is promising that we have made enormous strides in combating Al-Qaeda, then yes, from all reports, it looks like we have in fact seriously weakened that terrorist organization. Time will tell.

But if he is promising that anything will be different in Afghanistan after we have pulled out our troops, then he is coming dangerously close to George W. Bush’s famous claim of “Mission Accomplished” after returning from Iraq.  And with the same backdrop of American troops behind him too. In this case, the statement was not only premature, with the potential to raise false expectations and the sour smell of politics all over it, it was also irresponsible and dangerous.

Let’s hope it was just the jet-lag.

4 Comments on ““We Can See The Light Of A New Day On The Horizon”

  1. I am reminded of General Westmoreland’s comment in 1967 that we were seeing “the light at the end of the tunnel” about 10 weeks before the Tet offensive.

    Yeah, we were stuck in the tunnel, and there was a train coming at us.

  2. I haven’t followed your blog for long (a mistake I intend to correct, I love what I’ve read so far), so I didn’t know you were an Obama supporter. Generally, I vote very left, especially regarding criminal justice issues, but I’m concerned with a few of Obama’s policies (actually a lot of his policies) or lack thereof regarding criminal defense and civil rights across the board. I’m not exactly the most partisan of individuals- my personal philosophy can be summarized with “Less it harm another…” but his history, surprising given his politcal affiliation, with the war on drugs, police brutality (unless it’s racially motivated), and detention and targeting of American citizens leaves me more than a little cold. Hopefully, if he wins this next election, he won’t feel so bound by the politics of “tough on crime” or “soft on defense” (military) that he refuses to act and promote an issue near and dear to the hearts of not only his base, but also of many independants, libertarians, and even conservatives (who’s family has been affected, usually)

  3. Also, his involvment with the George Zimmeran case bothers me quite a bit- whether or not he is factually guilty is a matter for a jury to decide, not the public, and not an election seeking official. I compare it to the Austin, TX issue where a DA ran on the platform that he would be able to get an indictment against police officers, where another had failed to get a grand jury to see things their way. It’s not the DA’s duy, nor the media’s, nor even the President’s duty to pronounce condemnation and guilt before the facts are decided, especially in a case where there may indeed be an affirmative defense. Condemnation for the act, yes, but not against an actual person before a trial. I’m not saying that Zimmerman was innocent, or acted in self defense- I’m saying that we don’t know, and for someone with his clout to influence potential jurors in this way is dangerous. Just my two non-lawyer cents =o)

  4. CLH: Welcome to the blog. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

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