President’s speech left even his supporters scratching their heads
I rarely watch presidential speeches, preferring instead to read the commentators’ analyses that follow. What I find most helpful is reading what the president’s usual defenders say about the speech; if they didn’t like it, then the president probably delivered a really bad speech.
Looks like that was the case last night. In addition to a brutal fact check by the Associated Press, here’s a sampling of comments from news sources that are usually big supporters of this president:
Joe Klein, Time Magazine:
It seems this President is destined to make the toughest and most convoluted political arguments of any recent occupant of the office…And it may just be me, but the President’s discomfort seemed evident tonight–or maybe it’s just that sitting down, with his hands clasped before him, staring into the camera isn’t his best venue for public speaking.
Richard Cohen, Washington Post:
An Oval Office speech is supposed to be an important event. This was only Obama’s second, after all, and if he asks us all to interrupt our schedules and listen to what he has to say, then he at least ought to say something. In this, he dismally failed. We knew that American has ended its combat role in Iraq. We knew that Iraq had been turned over to the Iraqis. We knew our troops are brave, that they have sacrificed much and that over 4,000 of them had died. This is all worth saying — but not saying and saying and saying.
Roger Simon, Politico:
He spoke for 18 minutes and managed to avoid asking – - let alone answering – - any essential questions about the war such as: Did it make America safer, and was it really worth it?…For almost the entire speech, Obama remained impassive. He was not awesome.
Fred Kaplan, Slate:
President Barack Obama’s speech from the Oval Office Tuesday night was a strange muddle—a televised prime-time address that lacked a bottom line, a consistent theme, a clear road to the future.
Evidently, the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd couldn’t even bring herself to write about the speech, opting instead yesterday to review the redecorated Oval Office. It’s not easy to take a clearly positive message — the war is over and our troops are coming home — and mangle it so badly that even your cheerleaders wince.