Obama’s Cairo speech, a first take

I’ve read the version of President Obama’s Cairo speech released by the White House. I don’t have time for a detailed commentary right now, nor have I done more than a first read. But it seems to me, on first read at least, that it’s a rather good speech.

To be sure, Obama took some liberties with the facts in pandering to Islam, but so did President Bush. Similarly, I would certainly take issue with aspects of Obama’s account of the Israeli-Palestinian situation, but I also took issue with aspects of Secretary Rice’s. On first read, I didn’t see anything that made my blood boil on this issue (not as low a bar as one might suppose).

Obama was also too critical of the United States in a few places (e.g., his discussion of Iran and of our response to 9/11 including Gitmo). But he broke no new ground in this regard (always a relief when he opens his mouth) and, for the most part, he spoke with pride and at times eloquence about our country (let’s be thankful, at this point. for small favors).

There will be plenty to pick at, I’m sure, but my first impression is that this is thoughtful, mostly non-controversial address, with a lot to like in it — a speech that Americans of nearly all persuasions can be reasonably happy with.

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