West Point speech: We’ll take what we can get

Reactions around the blogosphere to 0bama’s Afghanistan speech at West Point were somewhat predictable. I’m on the same page as, say, Betsy Newmark: an underwhelming speech that nevertheless announced a troop increase, albeit a smaller one than would be desirable. We’ll take what we can get at this stage, even after all the procrastination.

The insistence on a talking about a timetable for withdrawal, of course, surely has Winston Churchill spinning in his grave. (Perhaps a source for ‘green energy’ for the village of Bladon in Oxfordshire?) Ralph Peters calls it “just plain nuts“.

As for the delivery and the body language of the cadets present: I talked to somebody who spent one-third of her life around West Point (and has a very sharp eye for body language). She said it was pretty obvious that most of the cadets didn’t think much of their putative Commander in Chief. As for the TOTUS’s own body language: the ‘chin in the air’ when an applause cue wasn’t immediately followed up made me (and, apparently, several others) think of a certain former editor of an Italian Socialist newspaper.

This priceless assessment appears in the comments to Stephen Green’s drunkblogging of the speech:

“OK. So he’s not as good a public speaker as Bush 43, but he did the best he could”.

Speak of damning with faint praise.

But seriously, my expectations of this presidency are by now so low that I’ll applaud anything that exceeds them. Which I am hereby doing. G-dspeed to the troops!

PS: and of course, Chris “Tingly Leg” Matthews’ reference to West Point as ‘enemy territory’ is just… unintentional self-parody. Keep plucking that chicken, Chrissy!

PPS: Milblogger Blackfive has a more pessimistic assessment: the speech is about preserving the status quo while creating the illusion of decisive action. (H/t: kenneth)


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