President’s oval office speech: I watched it as I usually do all his speeches. At the end of each speech, while I may not have agreed with everything he said I always felt charged, energised and very, very thankful he is at the wheel. But tonight, ummmm, tonight I was baffled and I could not put my finger on it. I have written many times here, “Mr. President, bring them home’. Yet, when he was talking about the soldiers coming home, why was it not energising, why was it not tugging at my heart and mind? I could not figure it out.
But Joe Klein proves why he is a veteran-analyst and I am only a blogger..
….. And it may just be me, but the President’s discomfort seemed evident tonight–or maybe it’s just that sitting down, with his hands clasped before him, staring into the camera isn’t his best venue for public speaking. Or it may be that announcing the end of a foolish mission requires a certain stiffness and sobriety.
As the President said, in the most touching line of the speech:
As one staff sergeant said,
“I know that to my brothers in arms who fought and died, this day would probably mean a lot.”
And so this speech was a necessary ceremony of the presidency, if a thankless one. The commentators will say the President didn’t transcend. His critics will say that he refused to acknowledge the “success” of the surge. But he also refused to indulge in relitigating the stupidity that launched the war. The lines will be recorded in history:
“So tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over…”
But the moment won’t be remembered any more fondly than the end of the Korean conflict. The best that can be said is that we survived Iraq. The best that can be said about the President tonight is that he survived, too, yet another very difficult moment in his presidency.