AP Photo, before the speech
The president is doing the right thing, and he deserves props for it. Good on you, Mr. President, for listening to your generals.
In his speech last night, though, he seemed like a man very unhappy to be doing the right thing, and rather testy about it. There was a defensiveness, and others have noticed, as I did, the scolding tone. As Althouse says, “he seemed annoyed at us.”
Yes, that’s what I got too. The speech didn’t soar, fly or inspire; it actually kind of plodded. Obama delivered it with the passion of a 14 year old forced to do the dishes after Thanksgiving.
I believe the “scolding” tone and the defensiveness were partly meant for his far-left base, sort of a “I know you don’t like it, I don’t either, but it goes with the gig,” but while he was at it, he did manage to praise America for its past history and genius; one can appreciate that. Nice to hear a president say his country is great, sometimes.
Of course, to appease that same base (and to gratify himself) he bashed Bush at every available opportunity. Ungenerousness was one of Obama’s defining characteristics even before the election, and he clearly hates his predecessor. But I thought it was especially unwise for Obama to diss President Bush before that particular audience. Obama seems not to understand that his troops are not inspired or reassured by a CIC who tells them that the previous CIC -whom the troops loved, because they knew he respected them- was unworthy of their affection, much less their adulation. Adulation, it seems, should belong only to Obama.
He did not use the word “victory,” but that is no surprise. He is only interested in electoral and policy victory.
As someone noted on Twitter last night, “Obama was only able to do this because the Bush surge worked.” True. But it is very clear that Obama did not like doing something that mirrored (and thus validated) a Bush move.
Finally, when he said the only nation he’s interested in building is America, I got chills, and not the good kind. So far, the America he is “remaking” is giving me the willies.
All in all, not a great speech. Obama wears his CIC hat very uncomfortably.
I had expressed a silly hope the other day that Obama, knowing the “settled science” has been discredited, might go to Copenhagen and spank the AGW fraudsters. Doing so could actually make his presidency. Nations who have been sucked into AGW -knowing it will ruin them, but too far inside to get out- would have their faces saved. They would owe him, bigtime, and the rest of us would be grateful, too. After watching him last night, I realize he does not have the gumption to do something that bold or courageous.
And yes, the press has brain rot:
Writes Charles Hurt, in the NY Post:
Obama told these brave cadets here — so many of whom will soon be dispatched to the mountains of Afghanistan — that this mission on which he will send them is worth their lives.
It is worth the total commitment of their very last breath.
Because as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, some of those young men and women listening to their commander last night will not return alive. But, Obama was telling them, this mission is not worth the total commitment of your country. It is not worth his political sacrifice.
How dare a man sentence so many more to die for a half measure?
Michael Goodwin: “Since Obama’s now on board, perhaps he won’t ever again feel the need to apologize for his country.”
Meanwhile, Der Spiegel is searching for the Obama “magic”, and suggesting that President Obama has weakened himself by trying to triangulate a war.
Last night was not a tactical surrender, but clearly, if he could leave Afghanistan right now, and not have to bother with anything but policy and his endless campaign, he would.
The only sense of real mission I get from this speech is that we’re going to send 30,000 more troops now so we can start evacuating all of them in the summer of 2011. It sounds like a slow-motion Dunkirk, and it recalls what Winston Churchill had to say after being congratulated for rescuing the entire British Army and a good portion of the French Army in 1940 from that massive cross-Channel evacuation: “Wars are not won by evacuations.” And apparently Obama agrees, since he didn’t bother to talk about victory at all, but instead treated it as a massive responsibility that he reluctantly will fulfill.
That’s no way to fight a war.
Jake Tapper: “Democracy” not part of Obama’s script
McCain grills Gates on the timetable
Cassy Fiano: Liberal Reactions
Krauthammer: Not exactly a clarion call
Fausta: has a roundup
Victor Davis Hansen: A very strange speech
Peter Beinart: The Opposite of Rousing
Angry Donald Rumsfeld: Calls Obama a Liar