President Barack Obama’s 2nd Oval Office address tonight was about the end of the war in Iraq. Naturally, there were mixed reactions to the President’s nearly-20 minute speech, which gave a polite nod to former president George W. Bush but avoided any Bush-like “mission accomplished!” notes of triumph. Here are some of the responses to the President’s words–there are few surprises:
- The Wall Street Journal called the speech an example of “Oval Office Ambivalence” and editorialized: “But to our mind-and we suspect to the foreign ear-he also focused too much on the ‘huge price’ and burdens of the last seven years, rather than on what our troops accomplished, or on the strategic opportunities that their sacrifice now allows. He gave short shrift to Iraq as a potential democratic example in the autocratic Middle East, or as an ally against Iran’s regional ambitions. Nor did he say whether, or even how, our ultimate success in Iraq had informed his own decision to surge troops to Afghanistan.”
- Politico’s Glenn Thrush termed Obama’s speech “subdued“: “[The] president’s address – delivered from the same desk where Bush told the nation the invasion of Iraq had begun, justified by faulty intelligence that Saddam Hussein held weapons of mass destruction – was clearly meant to portray Obama as a leader true to his word and a competent Commander-in-Chief.” The same site’s Roger Simon noted, “For almost the entire speech, Obama remained impassive. He was not awesome.”
- In the Times Maureen Dowd called the Oval Office the President’s “redecorated man cave” and proceeded to weave the Office’s recent redecoration into her editorial on the President’s speech. Dowd thinks the President has lost some of his oomph: “Given the cunning tableau created on the Mall over the weekend by Glenn Beck and Palin, in their artful and frightening mix of theology and Tea Party ideology, the president might be better served by a carpet that prompts him to get his groove back. [...] The first thing the once inspirational orator should embroider around the rug, the maxim that sums up so much of what’s wrong with the administration now, is the immortal line from Cool Hand Luke: ‘What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.’”
- Fox News contributor Ellen Ratner, forgetting that she works for Fox News, was impressed: “To say that [Obama] was eloquent was an understatement. His call to President Bush was a very classy move and it was clearly designed to bring Americans together and promote healing.”
- Reuters’ “Snap Analysis” of the speech called the President “careful”: “As expected, Obama chose his words carefully and avoided the ‘Mission Accomplished’ moment that came to haunt President George W. Bush. Bush was ridiculed after boldly declaring the end of major combat in Iraq in 2003. More than 4,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis went on to die in the years of insurgent and sectarian violence that followed.”
- Salon’s Joan Walsh was surprised by Obama’s statement about George Bush, of whom the current President said “no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security.” Walsh opined that it would be “lovely if Bush repaid Obama’s stretching the truth a bit there by speaking out to Republicans who falsely believe Obama is Muslim, that he wasn’t born here, or to the 52 % of Bush’s party who say our president supports the imposition of Islamic law in this country.” But, she said, she won’t hold her breath. Which is probably wise.
These are just quick snapshots of responses to the President’s address. However, no compilation of responses like this would be complete these days without a contribution from noted Politebrity (Celebutician?) Sarah Palin, who tweeted the following: “Obama speech tonite may make u dig out ur old Orwell books so rewritten history can be deciphered, depending on who gets credit 4 Iraq surge.”
Digging out Animal Farm to check the Orwell and Enigma decryption equipment to decipher the rest of the tweet right now, Governor.