Paul Mirengoff writes about Obama’s limp and boring speech
President Obama’s speech from the oval office, only the second of his presidency, was surprisingly limp. With three momentous subjects to cover – Iraq, Afghanistan, and the U.S. economy – Obama struggled to say anything new or interesting. It isn’t just that the soaring rhetoric of 2008 has disappeared; Obama is now affirmatively boring.
In “turning the page” on Iraq, the Great Speechifier could find no words with which to give meaning to our epic struggle there. Let’s give Obama the benefit of the doubt and assume this is because he thinks the struggle had no meaning, except as it related to domestic politics in the U.S. But then why give a speech about it?
Perhaps the idea was to signal our resolve going forward. The best he could do on this front was to say that after our troops leave at the end of 2011, we’ll still have diplomats, aid workers, and advisors on the scene. But we have diplomats, aid workers, and advisors all over the world; what if Iraq needs more than that, given all of its challenges? If Obama signaled anything in this speech, it was his lack of interest in Iraq’s past (Saddam who?), present, and future.
Incidentally, while I was at the gym this morning, CNN was playing a report on “Iraq’s children”, who “have only known war”. The reporter couldn’t be bothered with researching just what kind of lives those children would have lived under the threat of Saddam’s torture rooms. But I digress.
Despite the fact that Afghanistan has become Obama’s war in a way Iraq never did, the president displayed no great interest in, or true sense of commitment to, that action either. In ten short months, Obama once again pledged, we will begin pulling out of Afghanistan too. These words can only comfort our terrorist enemies and cause sleepless nights for anyone in Afghanistan who has ever supported us.
When it came to the economy, Obama had nothing new to offer. So instead, he provided America with a pep talk, exhorting us to “honor” our troops by “coming together” with a great sense of urgency to “restore our economy.”
Presumably, this means rallying around Obama’s unpopular domestic agenda. In any case, Americans are unlikely to be impressed by a president whose answer to our economic woes sounds something like “hug a soldier and hope that some of his grit rubs off.”
I thought it one of the worst speeches in modern memory. Not only was it long on empty boilerplate, it was scrubbed clean of anything memorable or forthright. It also flirted shamelessly with incoherence.
Max Boot, on the other hand, says,
I thought that this speech was about as good as we could expect from an opponent of the Iraq war — and better than Obama has done in the past.
Max’s low expectations were met, for sure.
Jonah Golberg is offended by Obama’s conflating the troops with his agenda,
what Obama is saying is that not only do we owe it to the troops to rally around his discredited and partisan economic agenda (“It’s our turn”), not only is it a test of our patriotism to sign on with his environmental and industrial planning schemes, but that doing so “must be our central mission as a people.”
The Oval Office had been redecorated for the occasion, and I find it, well, bland and boring (was the speech written to match the decor?). Gone is GWB’s sunburst rug, which I really liked, replaced with…beige, which goes along with the New Depression fad that I mentioned last Friday: Dust Bowl colors for a Dust Bowl mindset.
I’ll leave it to Cassandra and MOTUS to provide insight on the decor, but replacing the sunburst emanating from the Seal of the United States with an ocean of beige is more than just a little symbolic. What do you think?
Suzette wants to know, Yeah. You Tell Me What This Is Made Out Of.