President Obama spoke and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and his daughter, Meghan, twittered as John McCain IV joined 1035 other graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy on Friday in launching their military careers.
Obama promised the new naval ensigns and Marine second lieutenant that he would never send them into harm's way without a good reason. Meghan McCain, using the short-text messaging service known as Twitter, pronounced the fly over by the elite naval flight squad, the Blue Angels, "so friggin rad!" The senator's Twitter was more restrained: "A great day for Jack," said the elder McCain's text message.
Obama and McCain, rivals in last year's presidential election, were united at Annapolis, Md., Friday as Obama addressed the graduating class. The president referred to the "promise that I make to you," and vowed to give troops whatever equipment and other support they need to get the job done, both now and in the future.
The president said the United States must overcome "the full spectrum of threats" in the world, ranging from the "conventional and the unconventional" and as diverse as 18th century piracy and 21st century cyberwarfare.
It was Obama's first address to military graduates and the third such speech by Obama in the past nine days. He used the previous two commencement addresses to tackle issues that threatened to overshadow both events.
At the University of Notre Dame last Sunday, abortion opponents protested Obama's appearance because he supports abortion rights. He didn't avoid the debate, however, telling graduates of the country's leading Roman Catholic university that people on both sides of the abortion issue must stop demonizing one another.
The issue at Arizona State University, where the president spoke on May 13, was the school's decision not to award him an honorary degree on grounds that he hadn't accomplished enough. Obama said he agreed, saying no one's body of work is ever complete.
Presidents typically deliver a commencement address at one of the service academies each year.
Obama delivered a different kind of speech on Thursday, one in which he sought to regain control of the emotional debate over closing the detention center for suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He denounced "fear-mongering" by political opponents and insisted that maximum-security prisons on the U.S. mainland can safely house the dangerous detainees he wants transferred out of Guantanamo.
Former vice president Cheney delivered a speech the same day denouncing some of Obama's actions since taking office as "unwise in the extreme" and repeating his contention that the new president is endangering the country by turning aside Bush-era policies.
Obama and his family were to spend the holiday weekend at the presidential retreat at Camp David in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains, traveling there on Saturday and returning Monday.