Commentary Magazine


RE: RE: Obama from the Oval Office

Peter Robinson, who certainly knows how to write a presidential speech, goes through Obama’s Oval Office address, grouping it into general categories. A sample from each:

Incoherent: … The president wants to have it both ways, associating himself with the victory we achieved in Iraq while distancing himself from the costs. As argument, this is incoherent. But of course it isn’t argument. It’s cheap manipulation.

Grudging: … Why [did we win]? Because in 2007, when many, including then senators Obama and Clinton, insisted that the United States should simply withdraw from Iraq, leaving behind a nation reduced to chaos, George W. Bush instead insisted on a new strategy, the surge. Let me repeat that. We won because President Bush insisted on the surge.

Did President Obama extend the courtesy to his predecessor of saying as much? He most certainly did not. … President Obama could bring himself to credit President Bush with nothing more than mere well-intentioned haplessness. How shabby. How tawdry.

Disgraceful: After having added $1 trillion to the deficit since taking office, President Obama suggested that somehow the $1 trillion the nation has spent in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade “short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits.” Take just a moment to do the math—something of which our chief executive apparently believes most Americans incapable.

Read the whole thing — the rest is just as perceptive and smart as these extracts.

As with all things Obama, the gap is always between expectations and performance. Peter sums up: “[T]onight the President of United States used what should have been a straightforward, big-hearted celebration of a remarkable feat of American force and diplomacy to pursue instead his own narrow and, it must be said, increasingly desperate, political ends.”

There were, as I pointed out, some things to be thankful for — the commitment to Iraq being the principal one. But Obama remains paralyzed by his own ego, leftist inclinations, and poor political judgment. So he can never get it right, or nearly right. Unfortunately, unlike baseball, a presidential speech that hits .400 means he’s done more harm than good — and missed an important opportunity.

And that brings us to the speech’s most important failing. In this interview, John McCain seems resigned to the fact that a lack of graciousness is in this president’s “DNA.” But the senator also emphasizes that the most damaging part of the speech was on Afghanistan. Just like at West Point, Obama neither relinquished the escape route nor comforted our allies. He insisted, instead, on reiterating the withdrawal — it’ll be conditions-based, but he’s going to guarantee it will begin. Even if conditions don’t allow?

It’s upsetting to see a president so lacking in class, but it’s scary to see one so unwilling to lead in war. When brave young men and women are risking their lives for a stable and terror-free Afghanistan, the least Obama can do is give them, yes, an open-ended commitment to achieve victory. Otherwise, he is, as a Marine commandant noted recently, simply giving encouragement to the enemy.