It’s not often I agree with Bill Kristol (like… never), but I can’t argue with his op-ed piece in today’s New York Times. Obama gave a commencement address at Wesleyan University, pinch hitting for the ailing Senator Ted Kennedy. He spoke about the importance of public service and self-sacrifice for the greater good, but as Kristol points out:
…there’s one obvious path of service Obama doesn’t recommend — or even mention: military service. He does mention war twice: “At a time of war, we need you to work for peace.” And, we face “big challenges like war and recession.” But there’s nothing about serving your country in uniform.
Whether you agree with a given war or not, dying for one’s country is the ultimate public service and example of self-sacrifice. It’s a shame that Obama didn’t mention it – so close on the heels of Memorial Day. It’s a shame, but it hardly warrants a whole op-ed piece.
Still, maybe Obama should acknowledge the omission. Politicians spend a lot of time pointing out how wrong their opponents are, but it’s amazing what a small capitulation can do.
H.L. Mencken knew this. He used to get a lot of angry letters, and he would often write back. Instead of arguing or digging in or meticulously refuting each point, he would simply say, “maybe you’re right.”