The elusive distinction of most ludicrous analysis of Obama's Afghanistan speech should be awarded to NPR for its story, "Obama's Afghan Speech Echoed Lincoln's Talk." The segment was less than a minute-and-a-half, but it was a doozy. Here's the excerpt on NPR's website:

President Obama has studied the life of President Lincoln. In his second inaugural address in 1865, Lincoln spoke of the Civil War, then nearing its end: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in." A section of Obama's speech had a similar rhythm.

The comparable text in Obama's remarks?

With confidence in our cause; with faith in our fellow citizens; and with hope in our hearts, let us go about the work of extending the promise of America...

From here, NPR tries to draw a parallel between Obama's Afghanistan decision and the Civil War. "President Obama's speech brought Lincoln to mind and also highlights an advantage that Lincoln had in 1865," the female radio host says. "Lincoln was speaking near the end of a four-year war. Victory for the Union side was not quite won, but was in sight."

The male host continues: "President Obama spoke last night of a war that has lasted almost a decade. He faces a far more ambiguous task: starting to disengage American troops, while acknowledging that fighting in Afghanistan will continue for years."

So one leader (Lincoln) urged the nation to "strive on to finish the work we are in," shortly before winning the war the nation was fighting. And the other leader (Obama) says, "let us go about the work of extending the promise of America," immediately after calling for America to cut and run from the war the nation is currently fighting. See the parallel? Apparently it's visible only to NPR hosts.

Here's the full segment:

UPDATE: If the comparison of Obama to Lincoln doesn't ring true, maybe try ... Shakespeare? That's what the BBC's Mark Mardell recommends:

President Obama has told the American people that a difficult decade of war is reaching a conclusion: "These long wars will come to a responsible end" he said, adding: "The tide of war is receding."

It is an oddly poetic phrase echoing Shakespeare's Brutus "There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune."

Prosaically that means you have to snatch your chances when you can, before it is too late.

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