I think the speech was very good but that’s a detail. The main thing is, Bush should give these talks every few weeks (and should have been doing so for the past three years, but never mind).
He has given several speeches on Iraq lately, so perhaps he now realizes what he has to do. Nonetheless he appears to be going against his own nature in speaking frequently and repeating himself and in responding to hostile and often inane criticism. In this regard he should not see himself as an executive, making and briskly executing plans, someone who expects to be listened to the first time and who doesn’t suffer fools. He is now, rather, a marketing man who must respond quickly and cheerfully to critics, even those for whom he has disdain, and must repeat his pitch until it sinks in throughout a diverse population. I hope that he will continue in marketing mode, and that he will not revert to executive type once his popularity recovers from the effects of the recent anti-war offensive in the press.
Our enemies, in tacit alliance with Bush’s political opponents, fight fiercely in the media because that is the field of combat where they are most effective. Bush & Co. have been much too slow to appreciate this fact and to fight back. Indeed it isn’t obvious that they fully understand it even now. The crazy thing about it is that they have by far the strongest arguments on their side if only they will make them, as Bush did tonight and as I fervently hope he will continue to do. There really is no choice if we are to win the war.
UPDATE: In the comments, Rizalist makes some subtle points about the content of Bush’s speech. See also this post on his blog.
RELATED: Ginny posts her take on the President’s speech.
6 thoughts on “The President’s Speech”
I suspect that part of the reason the press (and the public) don’t always understand that Bush’s arguments are the best is because a) military history, even diplomatic history, have not been “hot” subjects nor even taught much for the last couple of generations and b) because the sense that human nature is complicated and not turned on a dime is, again, not sufficiently recognized as we’ve stopped seeing civilization in broad, long sweeps. Then, as Barnett put it, it is just about “winning” and “today.”
His most important point may have been the emergence of the Iraqi people themselves as partners in the enterprise. The first and only constitutional democracy in the Arab world has to count for something. But that partnership, much more so than public opinion in the homeland, will be much harder to manage and is the central challenge the President is only too aware of. The fate of Iraq is now not only in America’s hands, but Iraqis too. I wouldn’t mind it very much if more of them read the bulk of the New York Times, though others might steer them away from the front page and lead them to the Chicago Boyz.
Thanks, Rizalist. These are great points.
I also hate repeating myself to my child, but, well, it’s got to be beaten into the American public’s brain.
I heard Sen Levin responding telling the Iraqi’s they should amend the constitution to make it more “inclusive” of the Sunni Arabs.
I wonder where Levin was after the first Gulf War when we abandoned the Shia Arabs and to some extent the Sunni Kurds to Saddam.
No talk to Saddam then about the constitution including Shia and Kurd.
Takes some blood thirsty gall on Levin’s part to talk like that.
I miss Ronald Reagan’s speeches and press conferences.
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