Last week's seventieth anniversary of the D-Day invasion which turned the tide of World War II in favor of the United States and her allies, and rang the first bells of demise for the Nazis and their allies, also was illustrative of the stark difference between our current president and great presidents of the past. Namely Ronald Reagan. But when comparing Barack Obama to his previous 43 predecessors, he stands alone in his lack of greatness. And a comparison between Ronald Reagan's fortieth anniversary of D-Day speech and Barack Obama's recent seventieth anniversary speech is a glaring example of this lack of greatness.
Ronald Reagan in his D-Day speech spoke of the "boys of Point du Hoc" and "the men who took the cliffs." Barack Obama spoke of an Afghanistan war veteran sitting with the first lady at one of his State of the Union shows. Where Ronald Reagan spoke of democracy being "worth dying for" because it is "the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man." Barack Obama spoke of buying a veteran at the celebration a hamburger because, "what could be more American."
Hearing Ronald Reagan's fortieth D-Day anniversary speech last week, and re-reading it for my self several times, illuminates for me the true faith and belief that he had, not only in the greatness of America, but in all those who would employ the "use of force in liberation, not in conquest." Even when Barack Obama swerves into patriotic rhetoric, it is a meandering maneuver meant to placate the patriotic, not join them in commitment and dedication to the exceptionalism of America. An example of this behavior is when Mr. Obama refused to wear the U.S. flag lapel pin during the Democrat primaries for the 2008 presidential election because he felt it would alienate him from his base in the party. But once he was their nominee, he wore it in order to appeal to a wider swath of Americans in the general election.
To Barack Obama, patriotism is a political tool used to cajole the patriotic, and dispensed with afterward like an old shoe that has served its purpose. To men like Ronald Reagan, the fidelity to liberty and honor were daily habits and lifetime avocations. Another example of the kind of honor that great men have that is absent from the character of our current president is the statement General Eisenhower wrote before D-Day, and never had to make. It was a note he kept in his breast pocket in case the invasion was a failure, in which he gave honor and praise to the troops and took all the blame for the failure upon himself.
If Barack Obama would have been Ike in 1944, the statement in his breast pocket would have taken credit for his daring decision to land troops on the beaches of Normandy. Just as he did with the killing of Osama Bin Laden. An additional statement would have been in the breast pocket of Barack Obama on that day if the invasion failed, blaming its failure on Republicans. And that is what greatness in a man comes to, the ability to motivate honor and duty to a cause greater than self, standing in the shadow of success, and alone in the spotlight of failure. This is a quality sadly missing from Barack Obama, and sadly so not only for the United States of America, but for the world in need of that kind of leadership.