Not the most soaring part of President Bush’s speech, this does seem the real point of difference from previous attempts:
Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have. Our military commanders reviewed the new Iraqi plan to ensure that it addressed these mistakes. They report that it does. They also report that this plan can work.
For more soaring, we have:
From Afghanistan to Lebanon to the Palestinian Territories, millions of ordinary people are sick of the violence, and want a future of peace and opportunity for their children. And they are looking at Iraq. They want to know: Will America withdraw and yield the future of that country to the extremists, or will we stand with the Iraqis who have made the choice for freedom.
For less soaring, we have the thought of the boat people and the killing fields. Some of us have come to rethink the twentieth century and are not so comfortable with the positions we hear from the Democrats.
Update: Michael Barone has the most positive spin on the Bush/Durbin performance. Durbin’s outlining of the good accomplished struck me at the time as a little better framing than that usually done by the Democrats, though apparently as a cover for leaving.
I am struck (as I was during Clinton’s time) by the myopic perspective that means every speech by a president is followed by the opposition. If we have real enemies who want to do real harm, framing a war that will last long after Bush can no longer be president seems politicizing rather than informing. Nor is a frame that implies if America loses, the other party will win very useful. That doesn’t mean that the “loyal opposition” should not be listened to, given a forum, nor that they shouldn’t posit better plans, be given a megaphone. Whenever the open marketplace is quota-driven, it becomes artificial and encourages false dichotomies.