In a smart take on the West Point speech Fred Barnes observes:
I couldn’t be the only person who thought Obama once again both scapegoated and slighted George W. Bush. Early on in his administration, Obama recalled that he had agreed to a “longstanding request for more troops” in Afghanistan, implying that Bush had turned that request down. I don’t think that’s quite accurate.
And Obama praised the military for the success of the “surge” in Iraq without mentioning the person who — against the advice of nearly everyone in Washington — ordered that troop increase, Bush. Obama tacitly acknowledged the surge had worked, though he didn’t seem to remember that he’d insisted that it would worsen conditions in Iraq.
No, he’s not alone. It has become a nervous tic with Obama. Something is wrong, people are upset — blame Bush! Obama is going to need to rely on conservative support to prosecute the war since his own crowd certainly won’t be cheerleading for him. So it would have been politically smart and classy to have credited Bush with the surge or with leaving him the assessment for the Afghanistan war, which he relied on in the spring (the one his team previously denied receiving). But that’s not this president’s style. For reasons that aren’t quite clear — either personal peevishness or political expediency — even in a wartime speech in which bipartisanship would have been essential, he felt compelled to get in his digs. If President Obama seems smaller than candidate Obama it’s because he allows pettiness to get the best of him. He should give it up. He’s now president after all.