Falling on Deaf Ears

The New York Times didn’t like it. The Washington Post was lukewarm. The netroots dismissed it. The right embraced it.

That just about sums up the reaction to the President's speech.

A cynic might note that the same could have been said about the President's last speech on Iraq as well as the one before that. Very little has changed in the Iraq debate over the past year and a half. The Democrats are still using the war to gain political advantage while Republicans scramble to defend the policy and keep those who would place us on a timetable for withdrawal at bay.

This despite the progress made by General Petraeus and our military in curbing violence in Anbar and other places. In fact, positions on Iraq have hardened to the point that the General could probably have phoned his testimony in considering the short shrift Democrats gave it. As for the GOP, there are a handful of Republicans who would like to abandon the President but feel constrained from not doing so - at the moment. That may change by next March when the General is expected to give another status report on Iraq. Unless more improvement can be demonstrated as well as significant progress on the political front, it is likely that many more Republicans will head for the hills and vote with the Democrats on the issue in order to save their political hides.

As for the speech itself, it was, to me anyway, somewhat surreal. Bush tried reaching out to anti-war Democrats by asking them to support a policy they have either ignored or are opposed to. If he was going over the heads of Democrats to the people, he offered little in the way of ending the conflict and indeed, made it clear that a huge committment of troops would be necessary beyond his tenure in office.
The way forward I have described tonight makes it possible, for the first time in years, for people who have been on opposite sides of this difficult debate to come together. This vision for a reduced American presence also has the support of Iraqi leaders from all communities.

At the same time, they understand that their success will require U.S. political, economic and security engagement that extends beyond my Presidency. These Iraqi leaders have asked for an enduring relationship with America. And we are ready to begin building that relationship — in a way that protects our interests in the region and requires many fewer American troops.
The American people understand this kind of commitment. We have had it in Korea for 50 years. But will they support it? I would expect, if the next President is Hillary Clinton or another Democrat, they will be under intense pressure to pull every man possible out of Iraq. A Korea type committment might not be possible with a Democrat in the White House. If true, then everything we are accomplishing now and trying to accomplish, would have gone for naught.

With positions set in stone on the war, it seems unlikely that there will ever be a meeting of the minds on Iraq. A pity, that. United, there isn't a power on earth that can stand up to us. But divided as we are over this war, we run the risk of allowing one conflict in the long war on teror to undermine our security and make it easier for our enemies to attack us.
The New York Times didn’t like it. The Washington Post was lukewarm. The netroots dismissed it. The right embraced it.

That just about sums up the reaction to the President's speech.

A cynic might note that the same could have been said about the President's last speech on Iraq as well as the one before that. Very little has changed in the Iraq debate over the past year and a half. The Democrats are still using the war to gain political advantage while Republicans scramble to defend the policy and keep those who would place us on a timetable for withdrawal at bay.

This despite the progress made by General Petraeus and our military in curbing violence in Anbar and other places. In fact, positions on Iraq have hardened to the point that the General could probably have phoned his testimony in considering the short shrift Democrats gave it. As for the GOP, there are a handful of Republicans who would like to abandon the President but feel constrained from not doing so - at the moment. That may change by next March when the General is expected to give another status report on Iraq. Unless more improvement can be demonstrated as well as significant progress on the political front, it is likely that many more Republicans will head for the hills and vote with the Democrats on the issue in order to save their political hides.

As for the speech itself, it was, to me anyway, somewhat surreal. Bush tried reaching out to anti-war Democrats by asking them to support a policy they have either ignored or are opposed to. If he was going over the heads of Democrats to the people, he offered little in the way of ending the conflict and indeed, made it clear that a huge committment of troops would be necessary beyond his tenure in office.
The way forward I have described tonight makes it possible, for the first time in years, for people who have been on opposite sides of this difficult debate to come together. This vision for a reduced American presence also has the support of Iraqi leaders from all communities.

At the same time, they understand that their success will require U.S. political, economic and security engagement that extends beyond my Presidency. These Iraqi leaders have asked for an enduring relationship with America. And we are ready to begin building that relationship — in a way that protects our interests in the region and requires many fewer American troops.
The American people understand this kind of commitment. We have had it in Korea for 50 years. But will they support it? I would expect, if the next President is Hillary Clinton or another Democrat, they will be under intense pressure to pull every man possible out of Iraq. A Korea type committment might not be possible with a Democrat in the White House. If true, then everything we are accomplishing now and trying to accomplish, would have gone for naught.

With positions set in stone on the war, it seems unlikely that there will ever be a meeting of the minds on Iraq. A pity, that. United, there isn't a power on earth that can stand up to us. But divided as we are over this war, we run the risk of allowing one conflict in the long war on teror to undermine our security and make it easier for our enemies to attack us.