The man (and his wordsmiths) can write. President Obama's acceptance speech in Oslo was elegant, nuanced, and intelligent. Faced with accepting a peace prize while waging war, he chose not to salute his predecessor Henry Kissinger and leave it at that, but he dove instead into the intellectual thicket of defending warlike means to achieve peaceful ends.
He also took the time to rebut the previous Administration's approach to the issue:
I believe the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America's commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions. We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. (Applause.)
Very moving, until you read that paragraph again and notice the missing word. He boasts of ordering Guantanamo Bay prison, but leaves unsaid the name of the American prison where our detainees have not only been mistreated, but have been killed. The name is Bagram, our prison in the compound of our large Air Force base in Afghanistan. It has been remodeled and spruced up lately, but it is still a place that exists outside all law, not covered by the Supreme Court decision that "gave" habeas corpus back to Gitmo detainees.
The President's continued refusal even to say the word, to name the place, to include it in his fine-sounding call to an American role as a "standard bearer" renders the rhetoric empty, the nuance devious, the intellect derailed. He continues this country's recent tradition as a sub-standard bearer until he dares to confront the challenge of Bagram.
Follow Harry Shearer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/theharryshearer