Yesterday, I wrote that Barack Obama had an opportunity to at least share a little credit for the close of combat operations in Iraq with George W. Bush, who wrote the plan for drawing down American troops in Iraq that Obama has followed to the letter, rather than go for Obama’s repeatedly promised all-out 16-month retreat plan from 2007. If his weekly address is any indication, the American electorate will have to wait for some other opportunity for its Chief Executive to show a little class. Try to count all of the self-references as Obama sprains his shoulder through overly enthusiastic backpatting:
On Tuesday, after more than seven years, the United States of America will end its combat mission in Iraq and take an important step forward in responsibly ending the Iraq war.
As a candidate for this office, I pledged I would end this war. As president, that is what I am doing. We have brought home more than 90,000 troops since I took office. We have closed or turned over to Iraq hundreds of bases. In many parts of the country, Iraqis have already taken the lead for security.
In the months ahead, our troops will continue to support and train Iraqi forces, partner with Iraqis in counterterrorism missions, and protect our civilian and military efforts. But the bottom line is this: the war is ending. Like any sovereign, independent nation, Iraq is free to chart its own course. And by the end of next year, all of our troops will be home.
Total mentions of Bush: zero. Total mentions of victory: zero. Total mentions of “I” in speech: six, including the three in the excerpt above.
And that promise to have all troops home at the end of 2011? It’s certainly possible, although very unwise. The Iraqis still don’t have much of an air force or navy, and it will take years to build both. They face pressures from Iran and Syria, and while their army can maintain internal security now, they won’t be any match for Iran or Syria alone, let alone together, if the two countries decide to subjugate Baghdad. I’d put that promise in the easier-said-than-done category, where the promise to close Gitmo wound up. If we’re not involved in combat operations, the political pressure to withdraw those forces drops to about the same level of class shown by Barack Obama in this address.