No need to respond with the obvious point; Romney already made it eloquently today at CPAC. Here’s The One’s surreal address at Camp Lejeune this morning, announcing a hard and fast deadline of August 31, 2010 for the end of our “combat mission” in Iraq. Does that mean all combat troops are out by that date? Maybe not: Rep. John McHugh was reassured by Obama himself that the plan will change as the security situation does. And so the fine line between a timetable strategy and a conditions-based strategy grows finer still. No wonder the GOP’s happy with it.
If you’re not up for 28 minutes of Obamamania, I encourage you to read the transcript. Against all odds, I think this is the best speech The One’s delivered yet — despite the fact that it is, as I say, utterly surreal. Remember, this is the guy who said last summer that if he had it to do over again, he’d still oppose the surge; who declared the dream of Iraqi democracy hopeless in November 2006; and who insisted in 2002, at the end of the anti-war speech celebrated by progressives far and wide, that troops killed in Iraq will have died in vain. That was candidate Obama. Today it’s commander-in-chief Obama, so we get stirring passages like this:
Thanks in great measure to your service, the situation in Iraq has improved. Violence has been reduced substantially from the horrific sectarian killing of 2006 and 2007. Al Qaeda in Iraq has been dealt a serious blow by our troops and Iraq’s Security Forces, and through our partnership with Sunni Arabs. The capacity of Iraq’s Security Forces has improved, and Iraq’s leaders have taken steps toward political accommodation. The relative peace and strong participation in January’s provincial elections sent a powerful message to the world about how far Iraqis have come in pursuing their aspirations through a peaceful political process…
Now, before I go any further, I want to take a moment to speak directly to the people of Iraq.
You are a great nation, rooted in the cradle of civilization. You are joined together by enduring accomplishments, and a history that connects you as surely as the two rivers carved into your land. In years past, you have persevered through tyranny and terror; through personal insecurity and sectarian violence. And instead of giving in to the forces of disunion, you stepped back from a descent into civil war, and showed a proud resilience that deserves respect.
Our nations have known difficult times together. But ours is a bond forged by shared bloodshed, and countless friendships among our people. We Americans have offered our most precious resource – our young men and women – to work with you to rebuild what was destroyed by despotism; to root out our common enemies; and to seek peace and prosperity for our children and grandchildren, and for yours…
And so I want to be very clear: We sent our troops to Iraq to do away with Saddam Hussein’s regime – and you got the job done. We kept our troops in Iraq to help establish a sovereign government – and you got the job done. And we will leave the Iraqi people with a hard-earned opportunity to live a better life – that is your achievement; that is the prospect that you have made possible.
I can only assume he says “you” instead of “we” because even an ego as robust as Obama’s won’t tolerate credit-sharing on a project he inveighed against for so long.
Skip ahead to 25:20 and at least watch his tribute to Cpl. Jonathan Yale and Lance Cpl. Justin Haerter, two heroes who, evidently, didn’t die in vain after all. “Semper fidelis” indeed.