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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 1, 2010 / 18 Shevat 5770

The State of the President

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Who would have thought that this year's State of the Union address would be so interesting a test of the president delivering it?

Only 12 months ago, Barack Obama was inaugurated as president of the United States — not just before a great, celebratory crowd at the Capitol, but before a whole, celebrating nation. Regardless of politics, surely all shared the pride and hope of that historic moment, and its feeling of exultation. It was as if America had been made young again, and was starting anew.

This president had brought hope with him on the wings of a sweeping electoral victory. Not only had Barack Obama won the White House, but his party was now in clear control of Congress. All signs were Go and the road ahead wide open. There was nothing standing in his way. Or the country's. Everything was possible again.

What president could not deliver a fine inaugural address in those circumstances? That is no challenge. The test of a president does not come in the heady days when his words are still new and untarnished by the inevitable compromises that go with power in a roiling republic.

No, the test for a president comes after an upset or two, when the political tide has turned against him, when the country seems uncertain about its leadership, and hungers for words that would bind us together again. The test comes when a nation begins to lose confidence, and starts to wonder if it has lost its way. Those are the times that require the very definition of courage from a president: grace under pressure.

A great president will rise to the occasion, and utter words for the ages:

"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. … The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the last generation. … We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last, best hope of earth." —Abraham Lincoln, Second Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862 "This is pre-eminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself . . ." — Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933.

Wednesday night's State of the Union address was pre-eminently a time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. So what was it the president said? What lasting impression did he leave after addressing an increasingly uneasy Congress — and an increasingly divided nation — for an hour and 10 minutes?

Can you recall his message? Could you recall it the next morning? What was the crux of it? Was there a crux of it? I'm not sure, either. All the words tended to blur:

"No wonder there's so much cynicism out there. No wonder there's so much disappointment. I campaigned on the promise of change — change we can believe in, the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren't sure if they still believe we can change — or at least, that I can deliver it. But remember this — I never suggested that change would be easy or that I can do it alone. Democracy in a nation of 300 million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That's just how it is." — Barack Obama, State of the Union Address, January 27, 2010

Letter from JWR publisher


The president sounded resigned to his fate — and ours. If the American people were expecting a new beginning Wednesday night, they didn't get it. Instead the country got a partisan appeal for bipartisanship, complete with just as partisan a view of the past year. Indeed, the past decade. The president ripped into the Washington culture of pelf and perks as if he were still on the campaign trail, rather than having been at the head of it this past year.

Throughout, the speaker seemed curiously detached from the speech. As if he had been an observer rather than a participant in the political games he deplored. There is something ice-cold at this president's center, and a political reversal or two has done nothing to thaw it. If this speech was a test of his leadership, he neither passed nor failed it. He just didn't seem all that interested in it. Whatever he touched turned into boilerplate.

Unlike Bill Clinton after his party's landslide defeat in the 1994 congressional elections, Barack Obama has changed neither tone nor basic direction, though he begins to speak of a freeze on spending even while increasing it. He seems to well understand the slow loss of faith in his leadership, but only intellectually. As if he were a highly intelligent and observant visitor from another planet. At times there is something almost unearthly about his cool detachment from the country's mood, its hopes and fears. His words are words of concern, but his tone is that of a technician. Even when he's engaging in a little populist demagoguery, Barack Obama seems to be practicing learned behavior rather than expressing emotion. He seems curiously unaffected even as he realizes he faces a more serious deficit than any financial one — a "deficit of trust." Shades of Jimmy Carter's malaise.

But there was one moment in this State of the Union that will surely be remembered. At least let us hope so. As an example to beware. And that's when the president, a guest of Congress as were the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, turned on the whole court seated before him en banc and tore into it over a decision it made last week, the one overturning campaign-finance restrictions. It seems he didn't like it.

Other presidents have disapproved of the court's decisions, too, and how, but they confined their attacks to campaign speeches, or even proposals to weaken the judiciary or seize control of it. But this president upbraided the members of the court as they sat before him on a ceremonial occasion. It was rude. It was uncivil. It was vulgar, the act of bully with a microphone and teleprompter. It violated the formal respect the separate branches of our constitutional government owe each other. And this display of disrespect came from a professor of constitutional law. Disgraceful.

How detached this president can be from his own fine words: Even while denouncing the lack of civility in our politics, he exemplified it. Barack Obama owes not just the court but the country an apology. But does he, or anyone else, realize it? His discourtesy has become routine in today's politics. And not just politics.

I have to wonder as I write this the morning after: Did anyone besides me take offense at this spectacle, this affront to custom, tradition and just plain good manners? Or even notice it? Has discourtesy become so common in our time that it's expected, even in a president of the United States?

Paul Greenberg Archives

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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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