Here is last night’s speech in full. I thought the speech was sober and workman-like and full of constancy, unflinching and optimistic. It was a good speech. These were things he had to say considering: 1) the bashing he has been taking from both the media and the Demos; 2) that things in Iraq are a little tougher militarily than we had hoped they would be; 3) that the rebuilding effort in Iraq is really a building effort, the infrastructure was in much worse shape than we knew, the darn thing was held together by band-aids; 4) that Iraq is part of the effort to fight terror world-wide. I also liked the fact that he asked for more money, and was specific about it. The fact that he didnt ask for more troops is probably because he is waiting to see how the UN gambit works out; if it doesnt, I am betting hell ask for some more troops.
It seems to me that those of us who are generally supportive of the administration with regard to the war effort at least, ought to keep in mind that the hits he takes from his political opponents (and from the elite media, who only report body counts) is par for the course. As Winston said, when there is a great deal of free speech, there is always a certain amount of foolish speech. This is to be expected, even if it is irritating. It is especially irritating when it slips from one thing to the next, now it’s you haven’t found bin Laden, now it’s a quagmire, now it’s not enough troops, now it’s no WMD’s, now it’s no uranium from Africa, now it’s a quagmire, now it’s being unilateral, now it’s not being able to do anything about the Palestinian-Israeli problem, now it’s a quagmire, now it’s you are an incompetent idiot, now it’s we can’t trust you, and, by the way, you are spending much-too-much money on the war, and the economy is in a depression, you are the worst president since Hoover, and so on. You get the drift: criticism, always tending toward despair. Now, if you are a GOP party guy only interested in Bush’s re-election, I don’t think this should worry you. This tactical uncertainty (and lack of strategic insight) on the part of his opponents shows they have no idea what’s going on, and, even more important, they would not know what to do if they were in charge. I am not worried about them. Those that speak breathe despair with every other breath do not prosper. What should concern the rest of us, is whether or not the administration is doing the right things regarding the war. Have they made the right decisions, and are they carrying them out? What should we be willing to give up, if anything, in order to get some UN support? On such matters, we can get into large disputations, and we should. In the meantime, I see no reason why W. and his people shouldn’t be trusted. They know we are at war, and this is serious. Sometimes their stern and mostly thoughtful view doesn’t get through the clutter. I think it did last night, and the President’s view may be authoritative again for another week or so; until another death in Iraq indicates--at least to his strategically dull tactical adversaries--that maybe we are in a quagmire and are already spending as much on this war as we spent on Vietnam, never mind World War II. And then something new will happen and his opponents will re-calibrate their tactical rhetoric again. And we’ll do it all over. Isn’t this fun?