Obama's second term, thoughts on Benghazi

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A relaxed, confident and forward-looking president stepped to the podium last Monday to lay out a progressive agenda for the United States in his next four years as our chief executive -- as well he should.

He had the votes, he won the election, it's his second term. What did the pundits expect, that he would lay out a GOP agenda for his next four years in office?

One could get all apoplectic about the president's agenda but really, didn't he speak to what America has stood for all these years since its inception?

When the Constitution speaks of all men being created equal does it not follow that "We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths -- that all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King pro-claim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on earth."?

Or his call for continuing to protect the young, the old and the sick through social programs long a part of the American landscape. Yes they're "entitlements," but am I not entitled to get Social Security after paying into the system for 50 working years? It is not that the government just decided when I decided to retire to "gift" me with a check each month.

On our place in the world:

"We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage. Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well," the president said.

Who can argue against that?

We are living in a far different country than we lived in 20, 30, 40 or 50 years ago -- the demographics are changing, the expansion of rights is ongoing, more of us live in cities and fewer in rural areas -- society is changing in ways large and small.

As a society we must move forward and not back, and that's what the president offered up during his inaugural address.

It's not about makers and takers, it's about building a better society for all. If, as some complain, he poked conservatives in the eye with his speech, so be it. Back in November the country said it wanted to follow him -- and he ran with that. That's what leaders do -- here's my vision, follow me.

Thoughts on Benghazi
You'd think, given the flak taken by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week in Congressional hearings on the firefight in Benghazi that resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others, that it was the biggest tragedy since 9/11.

Oh wait, that's exactly what Senator Rand Paul called it, the greatest tragedy to hit America since 9/11.

Never mind Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, Newtown or any number of other events over the past 11-plus years that really are tragic.

The death of the four in a volatile part of the world is unfortunate and tragic for the families involved and should not be diminished. But the worst since 9/11?

Hardly.

But that was the tone as Clinton appeared on Capitol Hill as the knives came out and members of Congress were looking to make the administration look bad and culpable for the incident.

Yes, security could have been better at Benghazi and Stevens had asked for additional security. But here was an ambassador who was more than happy to take to the street and mingle with the people of Libya sensing their mood and thoughts on America.

The reality is we can't protect all Americans all the time in all the flashpoint areas of the globe. Can't be done.

What can be done is beefing up our embassies and consulates so the chance of this happening ever again is lessened.

But if you think that alone will protect our state department staffers wherever they are I think you will be sorely mistaken.

If we are to maintain our presence throughout the world then those posted to places like Libya will always run the risk of being in harm's way, sometimes with fatal results. Diplomacy is a wonderful thing but not all locals will agree with the American way and some will get violent about it.

Members of Congress wanted to assign blame and Clinton took it, but the world isn't a safe place and we'll just have to live with that.

Kendall P. Stanley is retired editor of the Petoskey News-Review. He can be contacted at kendallstanley@charter.net.
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THE EDITORIAL BOARD


Andy Green, the opinion editor, has taken the "know a little bit about everything" approach in his time at The Sun. He was the city/state editor before coming to the editorial board, and prior to that he covered the State House and Baltimore County government.

Tricia Bishop, the deputy editorial page editor, was a reporter in the business and metro sections covering biotechnology, education and city and federal courts prior to joining the board.

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Portland's potty water problem [Poll]

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