What's most interesting, in comparing Obama's moment with Kennedy's, Ronald Reagan's and Bill Clinton's before him, is the perspective.
Their clarion calls for freedom came from a standpoint of national superiority, even bellicosity in the Kennedy and Reagan cases. No less obviously than Obama, they were singing to the choir back home. The difference, I would suggest, is that Obama wasn't settling for only that audience; nor was he letting any audience settle for smug self-righteousness. His keeper quote, if you will, is the sort of moral challenge I had given up hearing from anyone who might reach the Oval Office: "The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes, natives and immigrants, Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down."
So Carpenter thinks Kennedy's and Reagan's speeches were all about war-mongering and national superiority. Does he have no sense of what the old Soviet Union empire represented to the world and, more importantly, the European continent? Fortunately, there are still learned Americans who haven't forgotten already. Victor David Hanson puts it into perspective as he reacts to Obama's equating the United States to the tyrannical Soviet Union (on foreign soil I might add). “The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love,” Obama said. Hanson retorts:
I would beg to differ again, and suggest instead that a mass-murdering Soviet tyranny came close to destroying the European continent (as it had, in fact, wiped out millions of its own people) and much beyond as well — and was checked only by an often lone and caricatured US superpower and its nuclear deterrence. When the Soviet Union collapsed, there was no danger to the world from American nuclear weapons “destroying all we have built” — while the inverse would not have been true, had nuclear and totalitarian communism prevailed. We sleep too lightly tonight not because democratic Israel has obtained nuclear weapons, but because a frightening Iran just might.
Kennedy and Reagan weren't speaking on behalf of the American people alone as Carpenter and Obama would have us believe. They spoke on behalf of freedom-loving people in Europe and elsewhere around the world who feared Soviet dominance would crush freedom in their country just like it had throughout Eastern Europe. Does Carpenter forget how many millions of Jews were killed at the hands of the Soviet dictators? I'm not surprised that Obama has no sense of American history, but I would expect better of Carpenter. And this is not an issue of liberal versus conservative.