President Obama was put to the test in his first major speech as "healer-in-chief" after the Fort Hood tragedy. While eulogizing Maj. Nidal Hasan's victims, Obama had to soothe bereft families, navigate the thorny issues of Islam and terrorism, and reaffirm the American spirit, all without sounding trite. For some, he also needed to erase the memory of his first, much-criticized public remarks on the massacre. (Watch Obama's speech at Fort Hood.) While some commentators are calling the eulogy his "best speech ever," others don't agree.
Typical Obama—not real, but dignified: Obama gave a "fine eulogy," almost making up for the "weird 'shout-out'" in his first Fort Hood comments, says David Frum in New Majority. But which is the real Obama—"that ghastly shout-out, or this solemn remembrance? How does one begin even to guess?" Unlike George W. Bush who couldn’t "fake anything," Obama is "a man of artifice," even if his "dignity rarely, if ever, fails."
"Obama at Fort Hood"
It's a speech for the history books: "I guarantee: they’ll be teaching this one in rhetoric classes," says Marc Ambinder in The Atlantic. "It was that good...yes, I’m having a 'Chris Matthews chill running up my leg' moment." Obama’s "elegiac address" was a rare occasion when the right man found the right words for a demanding moment.
"The best speech Obama’s given since...maybe ever"
Impressive rhetoric—now let's see some action: Words are "nice," but it’s deeds that matter, says Boston Herald editor Jules Crittenden in his blog. "If Obama believes everything he said about the sacrifice of soldiers…perhaps he will stop trying to second-guess his field commander by increments...and give [Gen. McChrystal] what he needs to do the job in Afghanistan."
"Great words, great deeds"
Excessive media analysis has clouded the speech's value: "Lincoln was lucky," says David Von Drehle in Time. His Gettysburg address wasn’t televised. Obama’s Fort Hood eulogy was "larded in so much [media] analysis, before and after," that no one could connect with his words in any "genuine, visceral way," except perhaps the 15,000 people at Fort Hood — the only listeners "free to react without coaching."
"Obama’s Fort Hood speech: Lost in translation"
FOR MORE ON OBAMA'S ACCLAIMED SPEAKING SKILLS, SEE:
• Top 5 Obama "best speech ever" speeches
SEE THE WEEK'S LATEST COVERAGE OF FORT HOOD:
• Who's exploiting Fort Hood?
• Fort Hood: The Al Qaeda question
• Who is Anwar al-Awlaki: What's known about Hasan's Al-Qaeda's connection
• Fort Hood: What the world is saying
• Red flags at Fort Hood
• Sunday Talk Show Briefing: Religion's role in Fort Hood (Video)
• Fort Hood: Obama's "flippant" speech
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The 11 worst fast food restaurants in America
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Why are so many parents being arrested?
- 9 things you probably didn't know about the moon
- The biggest lesson Obama failed to learn from Bush
- Why America is duty bound to help Iraqi Christians
- What if The Purge was real?
- Israel has only two choices: Eliminate the Palestinians or make peace
- What I learned from totally unplugging and shutting up for three days
Subscribe to the Week