Obama’s Get­tys­burg Ad­dress

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

“This is the pres­i­dent’s Get­tys­burg.”

— Rep. Jim McDer­mott, Washington Demo­crat

One score and four months ago, Amer­i­can vot­ers brought forth in this coun­try a his­toric pres­i­dency, con­ceived in hope and ded­i­cated to the propo­si­tion that yes, we can. Now I am en­gaged in a great po­lit­i­cal war, the con­di­tions of which I largely in­her­ited from my pre­de­ces­sor, test­ing whether this pres­i­dency, or in­deed any pres­i­dency, at least one so crowned in virtue, can long en­dure.

We are met af­ter a great elec­toral bat­tle of that war. We have come to ded­i­cate a com­pro­mise tax bill as a fi­nal rest­ing place for those who here gave their po­lit­i­cal lives that the rest of my ex­tra­or­di­nary do­mes­tic leg­isla­tive agenda might live.

Let me be clear: It’s tempt­ing not to ne­go­ti­ate with hostage-tak­ers, but in this case, the hostage was the Amer­i­can peo­ple, and I was not will­ing to see them get harmed.

I un­der­stand the de­sire for a fight. I’m sym­pa­thetic to that.

But, in a larger sense, I can­not ded­i­cate, I can­not con­se­crate, I can­not hallow this com­pro­mise. It was forced on me by cir­cum­stances, and the brave women and men, po­lit­i­cally liv­ing and dead, who were shel­lacked in the elec­tion are more re­spon­si­ble for it than I am. They need to stop talk­ing.

The world will well note and long re­mem­ber what I say here, even af­ter it for­gets those who have op­posed me, on the right and the left. It is for my ad­min­is­tra­tion, rather, to be ded­i­cated here to the great task re­main­ing be­fore me, the un­fin­ished work of my agenda, which is al­ready his­toric on a noble and grand scale. Take a tally. Look at what I promised dur­ing the cam­paign. There’s not a sin­gle thing that I’ve said that I would do that I have not ei­ther done or tried to do. And if I haven’t got­ten it done yet, I’m still try­ing to do it.

And from these hon­ored dead I take in­creased de­vo­tion to that cause for which they gave the last full mea­sure of de­vo­tion to me.

I highly re­solve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, un­der God, or un­der Al­lah, or what­ever faith we equally re­vere, if any — shall have a new birth of re­spon­si­ble so­cial equal­ity and rea­son­able op­por­tu­nity un­der fair, oblig­a­tory govern­ment su­per­vi­sion — and that peo­ple of the govern­ment, by the govern­ment, and for the govern­ment shall not per­ish from the earth un­til a proper time, as de­ter­mined by the ap­pro­pri­ate fed­eral health care pan­els.

James S. Rob­bins is se­nior ed­i­to­rial writer for for­eign af­fairs at The Washington Times and author of “This Time We Win: Re­vis­it­ing the Tet Of­fen­sive” (En­counter Books, 2010).

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