I think President Obama missed a major opportunity at Fort Hood on Tuesday. His speech was fine was far as it went -- but that wasn't very far. It felt very conventional, a bit rote and obligational, like Reagan on an off day, doing a state fair stopoff on the way to the Western White House.
What I had hoped for was a passionate, engaged address that tackled political correctness in the same was as did his race speech during the campaign, which I think was his high point during that time. It was a terrific speech that I think moved both him and the country forward. (Look inside the Army, Mr. President, and you will find "Ashleys" everywhere.)
Didn't happen. This was a treading water speech. "We must pay tribute to their stories?" That feels to me more like the work of a desperate speechwriter than an inspired, transformational president. I dunno, maybe transcendence just requires more time and effort than he has available right now. That's sad, because there are a lot of people in this country for whom the military looms about as large as race.
I really do think Obama still could be a great president, leading us toward "a more perfect union." But not the way he has been going lately. Time is passing ... Look at this speech. "History is filled with heroes"? That's high school stuff. I can remember when the knock on Obama's speeches was that they were too good.
Photo: TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.