Thursday, December 3, 2009

On the President's West Point speech

Late news, perhaps, but a few words on President Obama’s speech at West Point two nights ago:

Whatever other problems we have with President Obama, we applaud his decision to grant General McCrystal most of the troops he had sought. Well, he was just fulfilling a campaign promise. Yeah, and we see how well that has been working.

But the downside: His heart isn’t in this fight and the tone and temperament, if we may use that term, of his speech showed it. It was technocratic to a fault. We understand the need to lay out policy in clear and precise terms (though, we did not need as much detail on timetables) and we understand the somberness of the decision but the speech lacked an emotional depth that suggested he was not personally vested, as Commander-in-Chief, in the lives and well-being of his charges.

David Frum counters that the pedestrian nature of his speech was precisely what the strategic situation in Afghanistan and the political situation here at home called for. In making this troop decision, Obama is alienating is lefty base and any “This is our finest hour”/Blood, sweat and tears grandeur would’ve sent them off the cliff like so many hippies in a VW mini-van at Big Sur. He made the call, now leave him be.

Perhaps, but in speaking to a roomful of America’s finest, some of whom will as shortly as a year or two from now be leading enlisted soldiers and non-coms in the field of battle, we would’ve hoped for a little more “victory” and little less ‘wonky”.

Again, the thought that he has committed troops but not committed his passion to victory troubles us. It troubles us deeply.

And we’ll finish off with some advice for conservatives like ourselves and uhh.. Frum by Frum himself:

Having urged the president to honor his commitment to the Afghan war, we Republicans must honor our commitment to support him as he fights it. Given the public unenthusiasm for the conflict, there will be political temptations to “go rogue” on the president, if not now, then in the summer of 2010. That will be our test, for us to pass as the president has passed his. I know many Republicans and conservatives will say: “Hey – the Democrats did not give President Bush support when he most needed it.” Correct. They didn’t. And the country suffered for it. The right way to react to that dereliction of duty is not by emulating it, but by repudiating it. “For it before I was against it” has deservedly become an epithet for shameful wavering. Let’s not inflict it upon ourselves.

May God grant wisdom to our leaders both in D.C. and our people calling the shots out in the field.

P.S. More Google search result shenanigans? We punched up "President Obama speech at West Point" hoping to get an image of, you know, President Obama speaking at West Point. Denied. No images of him at the lectern, no images of him pressing the flesh with the cadets. Nothing. Bizarre.


K T Cat said...

A link is on the way.

B-Daddy said...

Nice analysis. I would add that McCain's criticism on setting a timetable is well deserved criticism. Yes, he gave himself some wiggle room, "conditions on the ground," but the lack of emotional commitment means he is more likely to bail than stay the course.
I don't think Republicans will have to worry about continueing to support the President, because in 18 months or less the lefty base will be so clamoring for withdrawal, that conservative instinct will be to oppose that. The real question is: What will Obamam do when he finds that 30,000 troops and 18 months isn't enough?

Anonymous said...

General McChrystal requested 40-60k troops to do the job, and come September, my daughter may find herself in Afghanistan. McChrystal set a firm minimum of 40k troops. Obama came in 25 percent under that firm minimum and a ful 50 percent under the desirable. On top of that, he sent a message to the terrorists that he was a surrenderer if just given the time.

Pardon me if I don't heap showering praise on ObamaNation for sending fewer troops than necessary and simultaneously slitting their throats.

Dean said...

I wouldn't necessarily call my post "showering praise" upon Obama. Please reread.

Many thanks to your daughter for her service, TBD.

Road Dawg said...

I too was troubled by the lack of passion.

K T Cat said...

TBD has some great points. In a war where the outcome is preordained, the goal of everyone involved is just to survive to the end. Hopefully there won't be much fighting over the next 18 months and we can retreat and surrender without too many losses.