Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Live-blogging the President's Iraq speech 

Moments from now, I'll be live-blogging the President's Iraq speech at this post. Each number indicates a separate republishing. Refresh as necessary, and add your deep thoughts below.

1. The introduction is quite neutral. Non-ironic mention of "our unity at home" being tested. He should know, as one of the big testers of that unity. Deep bow to the troops, which completed "every mission they were given."

2. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country. Long list of accomplishments. "This completes a transition to Iraqi responsibility for their own security."

3. "Tonight, I encourage Iraq's leaders to move forward with a sense of urgency" and establish a representative government. Sounds a lot like George W. Bush, essentially an ex ante endorsement of his policy. Reiterates our commitment to Iraq over the long term. All military will leave by the end of next year, and our civilians will step up as the soldiers step down. "This approach reflects our long-term partnership with Iraq." Ultimately, the terrorists will fail to achieve their goals. Iraq will remain united. Also sounds like Bush, and not at all like the Joe Biden of 2007, who wanted to bust the country in to three parts (yes, the same Biden has been dispatched to tell the Iraqis what to do next).

4. "Here too, it is time to turn the page." Spoke to Bush. "It is well known he and I disagree about the war from its outset, yet no one can doubt President Bush's support for our troops nor his love of our country or commitment to our security." A nice gesture, however inconsistent with much of what Barack Obama has said in the past.

5. Turns to Afghanistan. "As we speak, Al Qaeda continues to plot against us, and its leadership remains anchored in the border region..." The "drawdown in Iraq" allows us to deploy the resources we need to go on offense in Afghanistan. This is, at least, consistent with his campaign theme. (And who doesn't love the way he says "Tah-lee-bahn"?)

6. As was the case in Iraq, we can't do for Afghans what they must ultimately do for themselves. "Next August, we will begin a transition to Afghan responsibility. The pace will be determined by conditions on the ground. But make no mistake, this transition will begin. Because open ended war serves nobody's purpose." I support this policy, although I am not sure that I support the enunciation of it, which might well give our enemies new resolve.

7. Closing positivity about our leadership in the world, linking that to domestic policy and "a growing middle class." "We spent a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas." A domestic policy surge. Calls for an industrial policy (says we have "put off tough decisions" about the manufacturing base -- what decisions?). Not sure which of his long litany of tasks are even the province of government -- I do know this, businesses have not put off tough decisions. This is incoherent nonsense.

8. "As long as I am President, we will maintain the finest fighting force the world has ever known." Good. Write that down. OH!: "Just as the GI bill helped those who fought World War II, including my grandfather, become the backbone of our middle class..." Nice deft counterstroke to the birthers and Muslim-rumorers.

I think he threaded the needle fairly well, putting the argument over the strategic value of OIF in to the history books. Indeed, he has pretty much adopted the Bush doctrine, skating close to the edge of acknowledging that with his tip of the hat to Dubya. Yet, the speech was as Charles Krauthammer suggests "flat," and I agree that it was odd, very much so, that he tacked on the domestic policy business at the end. Very weird for a speech about the end of a war, and reflecting that his real interest is in changing America at home.

Stephen Green is drunkblogging here.


By Anonymous Mr. Ed, at Tue Aug 31, 08:38:00 PM:

My two cents:

Just about any Republican could have given that speech. Can't say the same for just about any Democrat. At the very least it was a head fake toward the center. I'm pretty sure by November he will be in motion.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Aug 31, 08:46:00 PM:

He threaded the needle fairly well, assuming that one believed that he meant any of it, a courtesy that he has not earned and does not extend to anyone else.

Point 7 has him using Iraq and the troops as a prop is his continuing efforts to sell "recovery" summer. In short, performed as expected, 2012 can't come fast enough  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Tue Aug 31, 08:47:00 PM:

Anon 8:46, I agree.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Aug 31, 09:36:00 PM:

Obama is a cretin and this speech was nonsense forced upon him by his handlers who are panicking at the impending doom coming in November.  

By Blogger Georgfelis, at Wed Sep 01, 12:09:00 AM:

Whenever Obama says: "It is well known he and I disagree about the war from its outset, yet no one can doubt President Bush's support for our troops nor his love of our country or commitment to our security."

I keep expecting the next word to be "but...", because this sounds so much like a setup line.  

By Blogger Stephen, at Wed Sep 01, 12:28:00 AM:

Setting a timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan is an unbelievably stupid policy. You can't fix stupid but you can vote him out of office.  

By Blogger Escort81, at Wed Sep 01, 01:17:00 AM:

Interestingly, Bill Kristol liked the speech.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Wed Sep 01, 07:24:00 AM:

Bill Kristol is missing a chromosome.

Didn't participate live because I have reached the point that I can't stand to listen to Obama. The obvious lack of sincerity, frequent use of buzzwords, difficulties with reality testing and egocentricity are overwhelmingly annoying...so I listen to the important parts on the news afterwards...it's a little more tolerable, like taking Castor Oil with bread.

Funny how he tried to look like Bush. Even funnier how he tried to crawl back to the center. Clinton did it easily..Obama made it look like he was having rubber bands put on a hemmorrhoid.

It will only be a matter of time before Iraq collapses, probably courtesy of Iran...and all of the families of youg people who ended their lives abruptly and prematurly will have to look back in horror and say "Why?"

I wonder how Obama will spin that one. With any luck he will be gone.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Sep 01, 12:32:00 PM:

Three things would have made it merely an acceptable speech instead of a ridiculous one:

1. "W, you were right about the surge and I was wrong. I will move toward your and Cheney's way of thinking about national security;"

2. He could have used the word VICTORY at least once regarding both fronts;

3. He could have left all of the nonsense about the economy out  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Wed Sep 01, 01:45:00 PM:

"Obama made it look like he was having rubber bands put on a hemmorrhoid."

I'd like to nominate this a Mental Image of the Week.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Wed Sep 01, 07:09:00 PM:

Obama’s address was lame because it was never about delivering a unitary message on even a single topic so much as it was about creating a few marketable sound bites for later delivery through the usual channels. Note that this formal Oval Office address was purposefully scheduled for one of the slowest natural newsweeks of the year … if it was really that important it could have waited a week. An ordinary President would have handled this topic in a press conference – but convention would then require Obama to answer a question or two from the press – and Obama is no ordinary President.

1) So here’s the primary sound bite: “Operation Iraqi Freedom is over”

Expect this to be fed to the anti-war crowd in moveon.org blasts and through friendly journalists as Obama’s “Mission Accomplished.”

2) Obama insists there’s a timetable to leave Afghanistan … with caveats.

Again, to be fed to the anti-war crowd.

Obama never gave a rat’s ass about Iraq – but the Anti-War crowd gave him the Presidency. Go figure.

3) Obama desperately wants to show success at anything right now . The irony is that he’s claiming success for the Bush-Petraus-McCain Surge. Again go figure.

4) Most of the rest of this address was padding intended as a fake to the middle, or as CYA (e.g we will crush Al-Queda). On these points, Obama couldn’t even fake emotion.

It’s Obama’s America, we just live in it.

Am I wrong?  

By Anonymous tyree, at Wed Sep 01, 11:56:00 PM:

So he didn't use the word "victory"? No surprize there. He will deny us that at every turn.
And he says we have been putting off decisions about manufacturing? I, for one, would like to find out what is in that one before they vote on it. My father-in-law started with Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach, CA in the years before WWII. It was a great company. We all know how that turned out.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Thu Sep 02, 10:07:00 AM:

Quoting The New Yorker:

"What President Obama called the end of the combat mission in Iraq is a meaningless milestone, constructed almost entirely out of thin air, and his second Oval Office speech marks a rare moment of dishonesty and disingenuousness on the part of a politician who usually resorts to rare candor at important moments. The fifty thousand troops who will remain in Iraq until the end of next year will still be combat troops in everything but name, because they will be aiding one side in an active war zone. The proclaimed end of Operation Iraqi Freedom has little or nothing to do with the military and political situation in Iraq, which is why Iraqis were barely aware when the last U.S. combat brigade crossed into Kuwait a few days ago. And for most of us, too—except, perhaps, those with real skin in the game, the million and a half Iraq war veterans and their families—there’s hardly any reality or substance to the moment."

If Obama's losing The New Yorker ...

Source: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/georgepacker/2010/09/a-date-that-will-live-in-oblivion.html#ixzz0yNfWN830  

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