Bush and Obama 9/11 Remarks: A Study in Contrast

Barack Obama’s Ground Zero “Speech” was a reading of Psalm 46, although he gave it no attribution.  He also provided no context for why he chose that reading, or what lesson he hoped to impart.  It is also evident that he is unfamiliar with the text as he has to look down and over to his teleprompter to read the text. He also paused at the end of every line rather than continuing the thought through multiple lines.  This is an error that many students make when attempting to read Shakespeare as well, and betrays an inability to put his own meaningful intent behind his mere reading of the lines.

George W. Bush in contrast provided a reading from a letter by President Lincoln to a mother who had lost all 5 sons in battle. His introductory remarks provide a context for the reading which allows the listener to find a meaningful comparison between the mother who sacrificed her sons on a field of battle, and the families whose loved ones were lost on 9/11.  In doing so Bush argues that 9/11 was not just an act of terror, but an act of war, and allows the families to see the larger context of their loved ones death.

Bush expanded on this theme the previous day in his speech at the dedication of the memorial to those that died on United 93 at Shanksville, PA.  It is a beautiful speech, I encourage you to watch it in its entirety below.

Obama has often compared himself to Lincoln, but I think it is becoming clear that George W. Bush is more deserving of that comparison.


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