Obama's West Point Speech

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:

Read Ace on that. More here

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.

Ed Morrissey:

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

It is what it is. All in all, I’d rather keep writing about Advent and Carols and about Lions and Lambs!


Fred Barnes

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  • dicentra

    Why on EARTH would Obama want to scold the AGW folks at Copenhagen?

    AGW policies were never about responding to an impending disaster but about facilitating an unprecedented (to use Obama’s favorite word of late) power-grab, for entities large and small.

    Given that Environmentalism is the new home of the Marxist left, and their favorite vehicle for micro-managing the misbehaving proles, Obama would have no reason to support anything that undermines AGW. Gibbs has made it abundantly clear that Obama has no intention of releasing his grip on AGW, come hell or high water.

    The ousted Van Jones was terribly explicit about how Environmentalism is the intended path toward “social justice” in the 21st century.

    Obama doesn’t lack the courage to scold the AGW supporters; he lacks the motive.

  • Mark Sutton

    As a West Point grad (a Redleg & Ancient Order of St. Barbara inductee) seeing President Obama speak at West Point last night broke my heart! The thousands of graduates, who have died all over the world since 1802, defending our freedom, were done a true disservice by a man who embodies nothing contained in the Academy’s motto; “Duty, Honor, Country!”

    Pray for our President’s conversion, pray that he stops supporting the murder of innocent babies through abortion & pray that we all receive the Grace to stand up for the Truth of Jesus Christ, our Lord & Savior!

    Veni, veni, Emmanuel!

    Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!


  • http://westernchauvinist.blogspot.com Western Chauvinist

    My favorite commentators are all saying the president is doing the right thing, including you. I’m not so sure.

    I understand how the president got himself in this political box. Afghanistan is the “good” war – the “necessary” war is what he said to get elected. But, his base is full of pacifists who never see evil to be fought except within America and THEY knew he was just saying that to get elected. But this decision should not have been about how Obama gets out of the box.

    If he could even have formed the words “victory” or “win”, I’d say he’s doing the right thing. But, to commit the lives and well-being of our military without the objective to win? Sorry. That’s the wrong thing. All in – or all out, says I. Does anyone believe the Taliban won’t wait 18 months? Or, if they want to expidite the “evacuation,” intensify their efforts to maim and kill? Will the locals be inspired to fight with us for the next 18 months or with the likely long-term victors, the Taliban?

    Actually, the more I think on it, the more I believe Obama made the worst of all possible decisions. And I’m not one who believes the enemy will fade away if we just get out of their territory. I think the consequences of American withdrawal for the region and even the world would be dire. I just don’t want any of our best and brightest sacrificed on Obama’s political pyre. We should be in it to win – or not at all.

    [It is as near as we're going to get to this president "doing the right thing," and that's a fact. But if he is encouraged, perhaps he will start to become a little more committed to this effort, which he said during his campaign was "crucial." -admin]

  • dry valleys

    Why Obama made the right decision

    May not be agreed with in every particular though!

    Worth noting that Obama has long stated that there should be more forces in Afghanistan, beginning when he was still on campaign, so this is no massive surprise.

    [But while he was campaigning, he talked about how we needed to "win" the war. He doesn't use that word, anymore -admin]

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  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    The president is doing the right thing, and he deserves props for it.

    And yet, you then go on to demonstrate why Obama did NOT do the right thing and does NOT deserve any praise. And rightly so.

    This wasn’t quite sending engraved invitations to the enemy to sit tight and attack us at will, but it was a clear signal to the world that Obama does not have the heart nor stomach for this fight. He made it abundantly clear that he lacks the will to prevail.

    The objective in this war is — as it must be — victory. Not exits, not timetables. Victory, and destruction of the enemy in the meantime.

    Obama does not understand that. He only understands running away. And the enemy understands that he lacks the will to fight.

    He does not deserve props for that, only scorn.

  • http://www.savkobabe.blogspot.com Gayle Miller

    Whether or not he made the right decision, he made it grudgingly and in a tardy manner, thus costing the lives of many good American military – the men and women who keep our country free and safe so that our CIC can dither and diss his way through his term of office! He is a trifling creature, our president, and the fact that we must endure 3 more years of his administration is annoying to say the least. Troubling is more like it.

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  • http://fkclinic.blogspot.com tioedong

    Didn’t watch the speech, but wonder why no one in the MSM notices the geopolitical importance to Asia. If Afghanistan goes to the radicals, Pakistan could fall, India will be attacked by them, and China’s west could destablize.

    And then there is the pipeline for natural gas that China and India needs…

  • pst314

    “Since Obama’s now on board, perhaps he won’t ever again feel the need to apologize for his country.”

    Obama is one of those worms who is always ready to “apologize” for what others have done, but never for what he has done.

  • Trump

    I wish the Cadets weren’t reading during Obama’s speech.

    Dislike what he said, dislike the man…..he’s still their CinC, addressing them, and he deserved the respect of attention.

    [Caption at Post says cadets were reading before speech - admin]

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    Duty. Honor. Country.

    The cadets at West Point know well that he is their Commander-in-Chief. And they do respect him. They will always respect their Commander-in-Chief. That’s what they do. That’s who they are.

    Even when he dithers and fails to give them the support they ask for, the support they need to fulfill the mission, they will still salute him and say, “yes, sir,” and do their duty.

  • http://www.erud-awakening.blogspot.com Gina

    I agree that it is beyond annoying- that’s not the right word, not sure what is- that Obama cannot frame a policy without bashing the Bush administration. It shows both lack of class and insecurity about his own leadership, since no doubt it is meant as a hedge against failure.

  • Brooklyn

    Mr. Obama seems to have short changed the Generals, playing politics with the lives of Our Bravest. The Democrats led by the Obama Administration, clearly waited until after those Nov. elections, to send needed help to Our Finest in Harm’s Way.

    It is regretful and pathetic.

    Mr. Obama’s “doublespeak”, his declaring a withdrawal while he sends 3/4 of the requested Troop increase is another classic contradiction for this disastrous White House.

    It mimics the same deceit on “no lobbyists, no earmarks, no signing statements, no rendition, no secrecy, no tax increases, no bows to kings, no wiretaps, etc.”

    LET ME BE CLEAR, there is nothing honest or reasoned in what the current Democratic Party leadership has offered.

    It is sad.

    And the endless, juvenile, childish, insecure, irresponsible, partisan debasing of the prior Administration has become utterly repulsive.

    Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Pelosi were again at it, just like this young – unaccomplished President, trying to blame it all on the prior Administration.

    These Democrats have become a parody of themselves, as ‘blaming Bush’ is laughable.

    So is the foolish effort of Mr. Obama, trying to take credit for the overwhelming positives of the Free Iraq.

    I pray for Our Men and Women in the Armed Services, because they are now merely the last consideration of those in power, who are obsessed with their own personal political gain.

    This Nation deserves far better, and we best get it together for 2010.

  • Piano Girl88

    I heard today that the cadets had to be in the hall for 3 hours before the POTUS made it there to speak, and many of them took books to read. They were not reading during his speech.

  • Jeff

    Obama’s speech just underscores how desperate he is to please everyone at the expense of accomplishing anything.

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