Open thread: Obama’s Iraq speech; Update: Obama acknowledges Bush

posted at 7:37 pm on August 31, 2010 by Allahpundit

8 p.m. ET across the dial. It’s billed as an Iraq speech, but that’s not really what it is. The “key part,” apparently, will be a renewed call to “take the fight directly to al Qaeda” by finishing the job in Afghanistan. (Wouldn’t taking the fight to AQ require operations in Pakistan, not Afghanistan?) It’s also being billed as a “mission unaccomplished” speech, as the White House is ever mindful after Bush of the pitfalls in celebrating too early. But that’s not really what this is either. Like it or not, by investing the end of combat ops with the grandeur of an Oval Office address, The One is necessarily signaling completion of the task. And why not? The public couldn’t be clearer as to how it feels about renewing combat operations if Iraqi security starts to fall apart. This is closure, for better or worse.

Because it is closure, and closure at a moment when things are ominously open-ended in Iraq, I admit to having no appetite today for the standard left/right recriminations about how much Bush screwed up or whether Obama should credit him for the surge. (I think he will acknowledge Bush tonight, for what it’s worth, mainly to signal that this is an occasion that transcends partisanship. But never underestimate the political instincts of the perpetual campaigner.) Instead, since we’re putting a bookend on history, I offer you this grim big-picture reminiscence by star NYT correspondent John Burns, who was on the ground over there until 2007. Today is a day that’s taken forever to arrive, he says, and yet it still seems to have arrived too soon. And some Iraqis agree:

“Notwithstanding what the national press says about increased violence, the truth is things are still very much different, things are much safer,” Biden told al-Maliki at the start of their 90 minute meeting.

But throughout the day, Biden’s entourage had to duck for cover three times upon hearing alerts for incoming rocket and mortar fire. No impact was heard, meaning that the shelling likely fell short of its target…

“It’s not the right time,” said Johaina Mohammed, a 40-year-old teacher from Baghdad. “There is no government, the security is deteriorating, and there is no trust.”…

“They should wait for the government to be formed and then withdraw,” said Mohammed Hussein Abbas, a Shiite from the town of Hillah south of Baghdad.

An Iraqi poll taken two weeks ago showed 59.8 percent say it’s too soon for the U.S. to fully withdraw. Ray Odierno, while hopeful that the election stalemate will be resolved by October 1, now worries openly about Iraqis giving up on the democratic model if things continue to bog down. The headlines tomorrow will be about whether The One mentioned Bush, but the bird’s-eye historical view of tonight’s speech will be whether, as lefty hawk Michael O’Hanlon argued today, Obama should have waited until the new Iraqi government was in place to commit to ending combat ops. He’s intent on checking the box next to his campaign promise to end combat ops in Iraq, though, so here we are. The die is now cast — again, for better or worse.

He tends to do well in speeches by his usual standards when he has his C-in-C hat on, so here’s hoping he rises to the occasion. The thread is open.

Update: Nothing specific about the surge, but I was right about him saying some kind words about Dubya. From the transcript:

As we do, I am mindful that the Iraq War has been a contentious issue at home. Here, too, it is time to turn the page. This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I have said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hope for Iraq’s future.


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Who’s with me?

hawkdriver on August 31, 2010 at 8:30 PM

I’m with you hawk!

Here’s to you and yours as well. Thank you and God bless.

IrishEi on August 31, 2010 at 9:32 PM

Correct me if I am wrong but didn’t he nullify the praise he gave to the troops when he blamed our efforts in Iraq for tanking the economy?

It wasn’t Iraq that tanked the economy, it was that stupid Community Reinvestment Act started by Carter and made worse by Clinton that finally popped – and it didn’t have to explode the way it did but the Dems, esp Frank and Dodd, wouldn’t listen to President Bush’s appeal to fix Fannie and Freddie.

journeyintothewhirlwind on August 31, 2010 at 9:32 PM

Obama looked very strange tonight. Is he healthy? Has something happened?

faraway on August 31, 2010 at 9:33 PM

Too late..

macncheez on August 31, 2010 at 9:24 PM

Thanks mac. Made me lol. :-)

IrishEi on August 31, 2010 at 9:33 PM

How pathetic that the only “kind words” Obama could come up with is some inane blather about Bush supporting the troops.

Murf76 on August 31, 2010 at 9:40 PM

fastestslug on August 31, 2010 at 8:26 PM

F-

Del Dolemonte on August 31, 2010 at 9:41 PM

Who’s with me?

hawkdriver on August 31, 2010 at 8:30 PM

I’m in. Here’s to all who’ve served our great nation in past conflicts, and to those who will be called upon in the future to protect and defend her.

(Raising glass . . . .)

AZCoyote on August 31, 2010 at 9:45 PM

For anyone that would like to join me. I have a drink in my hand. I would like to drink a toast…

To our previous CinC, President George Bush
To all who served and their families…
To all the patriots who supported us…
And most importantly, to our honored wounded and our honored dead…

Who’s with me?

hawkdriver on August 31, 2010 at 8:30 PM

With you 100%

Baxter Greene on August 31, 2010 at 9:45 PM

Obama looked very strange tonight. Is he healthy? Has something happened?

faraway on August 31, 2010 at 9:33 PM

Yeah, he just came off of Summer Vacation.

Remember, he spent much of his “career” as an Ivory Tower college instructor. They get the whole summer off, with pay.

Then he got into politics, and they get at least the whole month of August off. With pay. Just like their political heroes in France.

Life’s a bummer for him, isn’t it?

Del Dolemonte on August 31, 2010 at 9:45 PM

Dr Evil on August 31, 2010 at 9:31 PM

We have 7 Stryker Brigades in Iraq right now. They were retrained and renamed “Assist and Advise” Brigades but they maintain their combat ability. This whole “the combat brigades have left Iraq” is a charade. What the article didn’t tell me was if not being “combat” changes their pay at all.

(was a drudge article last week, carried over from the Army Times)

journeyintothewhirlwind on August 31, 2010 at 9:47 PM

For anyone that would like to join me. I have a drink in my hand. I would like to drink a toast…

To our previous CinC, President George Bush
To all who served and their families…
To all the patriots who supported us…
And most importantly, to our honored wounded and our honored dead…

Who’s with me?

hawkdriver on August 31, 2010 at 8:30 PM

Hear! Hear!
God bless you all.

onlineanalyst on August 31, 2010 at 9:48 PM

How pathetic that the only “kind words” Obama could come up with is some inane blather about Bush supporting the troops.

Murf76 on August 31, 2010 at 9:40 PM

Agreed. I really am starting to despise the president, which makes me sad.

LASue on August 31, 2010 at 9:52 PM

An Iraqi poll taken two weeks ago showed 59.8 percent say it’s too soon for the U.S. to fully withdraw.

And a Mexican poll taken two weeks ago would probably show at least 90% saying it’s too soon for the U.S. to close it’s southern border.

Tav on August 31, 2010 at 9:55 PM

His speech was pretty good. My dad is not a fan of the President but he agreed.
fastestslug on August 31, 2010 at 8:37 PM

The best part?
It was only 19 min long!

DSchoen on August 31, 2010 at 9:56 PM

For anyone that would like to join me. I have a drink in my hand. I would like to drink a toast…

To our previous CinC, President George Bush
To all who served and their families…
To all the patriots who supported us…
And most importantly, to our honored wounded and our honored dead…

Who’s with me?

hawkdriver on August 31, 2010 at 8:30 PM

With prayers and thanks to our troops–May God bless you and bring you home safe, sound and victorious (if that’s permitted under Comrade Urkel)!
To our vets–thank you for your service to our country.
And may God rest the souls of the fallen, remembering especially the 21 soldiers who’ve been killed in Afghanistan in the last 2 days.

Jenfidel on August 31, 2010 at 9:56 PM

With sons in the U.S. military (one served two tours in Iraq and one is heading to Afghanistan), I was really offended by Obama’s speech tonight. In contrast, John McCain had an excellent piece in the Wall Street Journal today and was appropriately very critical of Obama in his interview on Hannity tonight. As McCain rightly said, it is just not in Obama’s political DNA to be generous about GW Bush making the right call about the surge in Iraq that Obama adamantly opposed.

Phil Byler on August 31, 2010 at 9:58 PM

“It’s not the right time,” said Johaina Mohammed, a 40-year-old teacher from Baghdad. “There is no government, the security is deteriorating, and there is no trust.”…

“They should wait for the government to be formed and then withdraw,” said Mohammed Hussein Abbas, a Shiite from the town of Hillah south of Baghdad.

If 7 and 1/2 years isn’t enough I doubt whether another 7 1/2 years would make much difference. Remember the definition of insanity.

Tav on August 31, 2010 at 10:00 PM

For anyone that would like to join me. I have a drink in my hand. I would like to drink a toast…

To our previous CinC, President George Bush
To all who served and their families…
To all the patriots who supported us…
And most importantly, to our honored wounded and our honored dead…

Who’s with me?

hawkdriver on August 31, 2010 at 8:30 PM

Skål.

LASue on August 31, 2010 at 10:00 PM

To our previous CinC, President George Bush
To all who served and their families…
To all the patriots who supported us…
And most importantly, to our honored wounded and our honored dead…

Who’s with me?

hawkdriver on August 31, 2010 at 8:30 PM

I’ll drink to the last 3 of those. The first one, maybe just a small sip.

Tav on August 31, 2010 at 10:02 PM

What the article didn’t tell me was if not being “combat” changes their pay at all.

journeyintothewhirlwind on August 31, 2010 at 9:47 PM

I believe all troops in a combat zone, whether combat troops or not, get combat pay. Hawkdriver can correct that if needed.

Tav on August 31, 2010 at 10:05 PM

Del Dolemonte on August 31, 2010 at 9:45 PM

How does that old saying go?

Those that can…..Do
Those that can’t…. Teach
Those that can’t Teach………Become Politicians.

DSchoen on August 31, 2010 at 10:06 PM

Obama should have waited until the new Iraqi government was in place to commit to ending combat ops.

If mom and dad waited for the offspring to get a good job before kicking them out of the nest they would probably be living at home till they were 40.

Tav on August 31, 2010 at 10:15 PM

Jonah Goldberg’s assessment of the speech is scathing especially his last remarks:

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/245325/obamas-speech-jonah-goldberg

Cody1991 on August 31, 2010 at 9:26 PM

Agreed with Goldberg. It always comes down to just another oily salesjob from Obama…

‘Jump on board with my socialist agenda. Afterall, it’s for the troops.’ Sheesh.

Murf76 on August 31, 2010 at 10:15 PM

@hawkdriver

I hope you did not toast each of us back, if you did you can read this tomorrow and reply.

God Bless America and God Bless all of our services! I will lift another glass now.

bluemarlin on August 31, 2010 at 10:17 PM

Obama should have waited until the new Iraqi government was in place to commit to ending combat ops.

Hey, that gives me a great idea! Why don’t we let Obama and Pelosi and Reid and all democrats stay in office until they do things right? What do you think?

Tav on August 31, 2010 at 10:17 PM

Hey, that gives me a great idea! Why don’t we let Obama and Pelosi and Reid and all democrats stay in office until they do things right? What do you think?

Tav on August 31, 2010 at 10:17 PM

10+

Dr Evil on August 31, 2010 at 10:18 PM

No kidding. That’s one of the really shocking things about going back to watch his “the surge will never work” videos from three years ago – he’s aged at least 20 since then.

Quisp on August 31, 2010 at 8:31 PM

You can see the obvious changes he made in his voice and his speaking style. He discusses development of his public speaking in one of his books, and mentions that he studied black preachers like Wright and others in that development.

slickwillie2001 on August 31, 2010 at 10:19 PM

Dr Evil on August 31, 2010 at 9:31 PM

We have 7 Stryker Brigades in Iraq right now. They were retrained and renamed “Assist and Advise” Brigades but they maintain their combat ability. This whole “the combat brigades have left Iraq” is a charade. What the article didn’t tell me was if not being “combat” changes their pay at all.

(was a drudge article last week, carried over from the Army Times)

journeyintothewhirlwind on August 31, 2010 at 9:47 PM

So that was for the Anti War/Rolling Stone Crowd. That’s how they roll in the Obama Administration Perception trumps Reality.

It’s not a terrible thing to have some troops left in Iraq and Intelligence People – Iran won’t stop meddling in any of the neighboring countries.

Dr Evil on August 31, 2010 at 10:24 PM

Re the family photos in the background, the ObaMao team is trying desperately to rehabilitate the image and narrative of this failed jaboney. One of the AOL features today focuses on little-known facts about the daughters– even though the family tries to protect them. (One takes piano lessons, and I cannot remember what the other one does. Who cares?)

ObaMao sees the drawdown and exit from Iraq (and eventually Afghanistan) as a way to expand his social engineering with the money he will “create or save”.

Dull delivery? He was never committed to our Iraq effort. Besides, he didn’t have the feedback of adoring groupies to feed his outsize ego. Having an audience to feel the love is necessary for his stylin’.

Pookie has never been fit for this job. It’s beyond his pay grade. His zenith was reached in being a community agitator on the South Side of Chicago and hustling big buck from the intimidated.

onlineanalyst on August 31, 2010 at 10:27 PM

If mom and dad waited for the offspring to get a good job before kicking them out of the nest they would probably be living at home till they were 40.

Tav on August 31, 2010 at 10:15 PM

We gave them 7 years and so much blood and treasure…I get why they are insecure. Saddam murdered anyone that looked like a potential rival. Scars or not they have got to move forward and figure out their own government. They are still way ahead of other countries like Iran that has a dictator now that stole the last election and Afghanistan and it’s last election. They needed a shove.

Dr Evil on August 31, 2010 at 10:28 PM

Tav on August 31, 2010 at 10:02 PM

You’re in, all or nothing.

bluemarlin on August 31, 2010 at 10:17 PM

Nope, I have students tomorrow or I would have. Cheers my friend!

hawkdriver on August 31, 2010 at 10:28 PM

Hawkdriver -

Cheers, and God Bless You!

Yellowdog12 on August 31, 2010 at 10:34 PM

Who’s with me?

hawkdriver on August 31, 2010 at 8:30 PM

I’m in…
God bless our troops

mnmom on August 31, 2010 at 10:44 PM

Hmmmm.

@ AP

“I admit to having no appetite today for the standard left/right recriminations”

So you don’t have any appetite for recriminations … but you have the same position vis a vis Iraq that conservatives do.

So really. Who do you think you’re fooling?

memomachine on August 31, 2010 at 10:44 PM

Oh, he acknowledged Pres. Bush…. well isn’t that nice.

Yakko77 on August 31, 2010 at 10:44 PM

I listened only lightly… but I was glad to hear Obama misses George Bush too. I bet sometimes he wishes he could just get him in there for a day or two and straighten this whole thing out… take the pressure off.

Obama sure makes Bush look Presidential!

petunia on August 31, 2010 at 10:44 PM

Who’s with me?

hawkdriver on August 31, 2010 at 8:30 PM

Yup . With ya Hawk.

Didn’t watch Oblabla. . .Can’t stand the Kenyan.

Texyank on August 31, 2010 at 10:50 PM

Propeller hat in the Oval Office remark was priceless…along with the Drudge child’s bicycle pix of the Prez (with a bell) along side Putin hunting a Whale with a Crossbow.

I am not a racist on August 31, 2010 at 10:57 PM

Who’s with me?

hawkdriver on August 31, 2010 at 8:30 PM

To you, Hawk, and all who serve, all who fell, and all who wait.

And, thank you, President Bush.

publiuspen on August 31, 2010 at 11:17 PM

I watched the speech live and assessed his references to GWB as the lukewarm minimal acknowledgements that they were (and worse—his first reference was to basically say Bush started a war and all kinds of bad things happened until I cleaned it up).

Rove was just on Greta and said about this phrasing:

Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security

That it’s a political ploy to say “no one can doubt” as a way of actually seeking to sow doubt.

On that, I have no doubt.

KittyLowrey on August 31, 2010 at 11:17 PM

For anyone that would like to join me. I have a drink in my hand. I would like to drink a toast…

To our previous CinC, President George Bush
To all who served and their families…
To all the patriots who supported us…
And most importantly, to our honored wounded and our honored dead…

Who’s with me?

hawkdriver on August 31, 2010 at 8:30 PM

Cheers!

Esthier on August 31, 2010 at 11:18 PM

Nope, I have students tomorrow or I would have. Cheers my friend!

hawkdriver on August 31, 2010 at 10:28 PM

We can hold you to that next time then. :)

Esthier on August 31, 2010 at 11:20 PM

A a veteran I still say PUKE!

Dhuka on August 31, 2010 at 11:34 PM

Classy hat tip to Bush, I’ll give him that.

Republican on August 31, 2010 at 8:09 PM

If it didn’t involve “Bush was right and I was wrong” it’s nothing more than a cowardly wave off from self important cretin.

Fighton03 on August 31, 2010 at 11:47 PM

For anyone that would like to join me. I have a drink in my hand. I would like to drink a toast…

To our previous CinC, President George Bush
To all who served and their families…
To all the patriots who supported us…
And most importantly, to our honored wounded and our honored dead…

Who’s with me?

hawkdriver on August 31, 2010 at 8:30 PM

honored to sir…

Fighton03 on August 31, 2010 at 11:48 PM

Here’s a palate cleanser; admittedly this was written 2 hours before the speech, but he says it best.

Here’s a taste:

Here I’d like to thank the former President George W. Bush for his stubborn and courageous stand in Iraq during all those terrible days of carnage and bloodshed. He stood his grounds and insisted on winning it. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for delivering what he’d promised earlier. This victory is his but on top of that, the victory in Iraq belongs to the people of Iraq and in particular to the innocent children of that country.

Thank you President Bush.

The other guy?

He isn’t worthy enough to lick Dubya’s boots.

CPT. Charles on September 1, 2010 at 12:03 AM

There was absolutely no way he could not have mentioned President Bush tonight, the blogs have all been commenting on it for days and days.

You know, when Obama speaks of the troops, it’s just someone reading the words on a page to me. I don’t feel any passion or real affection, and the contrast with President Bush is not in the words as much as in the positive feeling and genuine love that always came through with Bush.

oldoldbabs on September 1, 2010 at 12:03 AM

To our previous CinC, President George Bush
To all who served and their families…
To all the patriots who supported us…
And most importantly, to our honored wounded and our honored dead…

Who’s with me?

hawkdriver on August 31, 2010 at 8:30 PM

We’re with you. USA USA

NaCly dog on September 1, 2010 at 12:50 AM

Obama just gave his own Mission accomplished speech tonight.
So…when American servicemen/women continue to die in Iraq, what will the left say this time?

B Man on September 1, 2010 at 1:18 AM

Obama looked very strange tonight. Is he healthy? Has something happened?

faraway on August 31, 2010 at 9:33 PM

He wasn’t doing his deranged tennis fan schtick. Only one TOTUS tonight.

jana on September 1, 2010 at 3:33 AM

Who’s with me?

hawkdriver on August 31, 2010 at 8:30 PM

I am!

I made sure not to watch him at 5:00 p.m. PST. Can’t wait for the low ratings today. .

My impression is that Zero was extremely uncomfortable giving that speech. He didn’t want to even be there. I didn’t want him to be there either.

Oh to have been a fly on the wall when he called President Bush today. Barry Soetero: “So, you know tonight I’m going to give you credit for your handling of Iraq, the surge and our success there.” President Bush: “Sure, Barry.”

The speech: “Bush, your war broke us as a nation.”

Thank you, President Bush.

Opinionator on September 1, 2010 at 4:53 AM

Who’s with me?

hawkdriver on August 31, 2010 at 8:30 PM

As soon as I make my ‘crappacino’-from scratch hot chocolate with some instant coffee added-I’ll raise my mug to you and all our brave men, women, and military dogs(I like animals) in uniform!
Freedom. Isn’t. Free.

annoyinglittletwerp on September 1, 2010 at 7:44 AM

End of combat operations, eh. Wonder what all those special forces types left there are going to be doing? Goat farming maybe?

Oldnuke on September 1, 2010 at 8:28 AM

With fingers crossed, “…the American combat mission in Iraq has ended.”

shick on September 1, 2010 at 10:06 AM

Can we remember specifically, the men and women who are our Viet Nam vets?
Cheers to you!

hawkdriver on August 31, 2010 at 9:12 PM

You see that, Pops,Pappy,Tex,Taco,Ferggy,Sarge(CMFIC),and Sal. You guys are with God, but honorable folks still salute you.

fourdeucer on September 1, 2010 at 10:36 AM

As we do, I am mindful that the Iraq War has been a contentious issue at home. Here, too, it is time to turn the page. This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I have said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hope for Iraq’s future.

Vacuous.

KMC1 on September 1, 2010 at 11:20 AM

F- for the Commander-in-Community Organizer’s repulsive speech.

Fifty-thousand troops are still in harms way and 4,500 Special Opts will continue to assist Iraqi troops, in counter-terrorism operations and President Nitwit claims the war in Iraq is over and announces a timeline for Afghanistan. 2012 cannot come soon enough. How much more damage will this hater of the United States of America inflict before we kick his arse out-of-office?

sinsing on September 1, 2010 at 12:25 PM

And if he acknowledged Mrs. Bush he would have said something like, . . . “she’s a nice lady. Capable of making her own clothing.”

kens on September 1, 2010 at 3:51 PM

Hey Obowma, about that LIE claiming the Iraq War tanked the economy? Not so much as the Obowma FAILED stimulus plan:

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/Little-known-fact-Obamas-failed-stimulus-program-cost-more-than-the-Iraq-war-101302919.html

Tack on the Obowma economy of 4 TRILLION spent in 19 months, well, Obowma can’t blame Bush anymore.
To use a basketball metaphor: Obowma dribbled the ball off his leg, out of bounds and back to the other team.

dthorny on September 1, 2010 at 6:05 PM

Obama just gave his own Mission accomplished speech tonight.
So…when American servicemen/women continue to die in Iraq, what will the left say this time?B Man on September 1, 2010 at 1:18 AM

Obowma: uhh(look left)…..you know, ahh(look right) this war, ummm(look left)…..ahh, I inherited (look right)…from the, ahhh(look left)….umm, previous admistration(look right)……you know,(look left)….uhh, I’ve NEVER supported (look right)……ahh, ever……

We have a scumbag as president.

dthorny on September 1, 2010 at 6:12 PM

For anyone that would like to join me. I have a drink in my hand. I would like to drink a toast…

To our previous CinC, President George Bush
To all who served and their families…
To all the patriots who supported us…
And most importantly, to our honored wounded and our honored dead…

Who’s with me?

hawkdriver on August 31, 2010 at 8:30 PM

A day late, but with you. Cheers! *clink*

Mary in LA on September 1, 2010 at 8:12 PM

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