Edward Snowden at West Point

Today (May 28, 2014), I heard President Obama’s speech at West Point during the same drive-time as John Kerry’s interview about Edward Snowden. The words clashed.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I hereby absolve all cadets who are on restriction for minor conduct offenses.

Kerry: if he wants to come home tomorrow to face the music, he can do so.

Obama: It is a particularly useful time for America to reflect on those who’ve sacrificed so much for our freedom, a few days after Memorial Day.

Kerry: A patriot would not run away.

Obama: I believe that a world of greater freedom and tolerance is not only a moral imperative; it also helps keep us safe.

Kerry: Well, for a supposedly smart guy, that’s a pretty dumb answer.

Obama: Here’s my bottom line: America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will.

Kerry: I think it’s very sad. But this is a man who has done great damage to his country

Obama: Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail.

Kerry: I think he’s confused.

Obama: we still need to ask tough questions about whether our actions are proportional and effective and just.

Kerry: man up.

Obama: we must uphold standards that reflect our values.

Kerry: man up.

Obama: I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.

Kerry: I think he’s confused

Obama: That’s why we’re putting in place new restrictions on how America collects and uses intelligence — because we will have fewer partners and be less effective if a perception takes hold that we’re conducting surveillance against ordinary citizens. America does not simply stand for stability or the absence of conflict, no matter what the cost; we stand for the more lasting peace that can only come through opportunity and freedom for people everywhere — which brings me to the fourth and final element of American leadership: our willingness to act on behalf of human dignity.

Kerry: But this is a man who has done great damage to his country.

Obama: unlike other nations, America is not afraid of individual empowerment. We are strengthened by it. We’re strengthened by civil society. We’re strengthened by a free press.

Kerry: man up.

Obama: American leadership also requires us to see the world as it should be — a place where the aspirations of individual human beings really matters, where hopes and not just fears govern; where the truths written into our founding documents can steer the currents of history in the direction of justice.

Kerry: Edward Snowden is a coward, he is a traitor, and he has betrayed his country, and if he wants to come home tomorrow to face the music, he can do so.

Obama: Next week I will go to Normandy to honor the men who stormed the beaches there. And while it’s hard for many Americans to comprehend the courage and sense of duty that guided those who boarded small ships, you define what it means to be a patriot.

Kerry: If this man is a patriot, he should stay in the United States and make his case. Patriots don’t go to Russia, they don’t seek asylum in Cuba, they don’t seek asylum in Venezuela. They fight their cause here. There are many a patriot – you can go back to the Pentagon Papers with Dan Ellsberg and others who stood and went to the court system of America and made their case. Edward Snowden is a coward, he is a traitor, and he has betrayed his country, and if he wants to come home tomorrow to face the music, he can do so.

Obama: Leaving here, you carry with you the respect of your fellow citizens. You will represent a nation with history and hope on our side.

Kerry: man up.

Obama: Your charge now is not only to protect our country, but to do what is right and just.

Kerry: come home tomorrow to face the music.

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