Last Call on Obama’s Afghan Speech: The Right hated it, the left hated it and the Europeans hated it! Posted by Former Author on 6 December, 2009 at 9:56 pm. 8 comments already! [DELETED BY AUTHOR] Skookum says: December 7, 2009 at 5:16 am Mike, thanks for the overview. I had read Der Spiegel, but missed Rush’s comments. What a comedy, what a tragedy; why does he go to a place that he hates and that hates him and expect to give a convincing speech on a war that he doesn’t want to direct or execute? This guy is becoming the court jester of the world. A fool for everyman. Tom in CA says: December 7, 2009 at 6:00 am One of my greatest fears is that this fool will wake up one morning and realize that he must move toward the center. Thankfully, his cultural values and upbringing won’t allow any move. I would love to see him, by teleprompter, blame George Bush for his 2012 election defeat. Missy says: December 7, 2009 at 6:13 am Mike, It can get worse than Steingart in der Speigel. I saw this over at Jules Crittenden’s site over the weekend. It may not have the reach as the der Speigel article, wish it did. Historian, Richard F. Miller is embedded in Afghanistan right now, Crittenden had him critique Obama’s speech at West Point. I’m just going to c&p most of the thread for the full flavor. A combat-embedded Harvard-trained historian executes an academic takedown on Obama’s West Point speech. What follows is a guest post from Richard F. Miller, author of In Words and Deeds: Battle Speeches in History. I picked up Miller’s book the other day, intrigued by the idea of a military historian who takes his deadly subject matter seriously enough that he sought to experience it firsthand.* We had a brief email exchange, and this quick, off-the-cuff assessment of Obama’s Afghanistan escalation speech was the result. Miller classes it a “Midst of Battle” speech, and rates it a not particularly good one. In fact, pretty bad. ”In general, a battle speech, or call to action is not the place to recite one’s limitations.” Ouch. Miller: For my companion volume to Words and Deeds (MS due in three weeks) I’m actually analyzing a few of Obama’s speeches as commander in chief. I’ll probably include the West Point address in the book’s epilogue. Regarding West Point, I would say this: The form of battle speech is that of Midst-of-Battle Speech, probably the most common and diverse of the battle speech genres. The most relevant — and obvious — comparisons would be to Bush’s announcement of the Surge (Jan. ‘07) and Petraeus’s Assumption of Command Speech (Feb. ‘07). The most important convention these sorts of speeches is first, simplicity of message (e.g., attack, retreat, hold) and next, consistency of message. The latter is key — time and attention spans are short. When a civilian commander, versus a NCO, gives such a speech, multiple audiences have to be accounted for — friends, allies, enemies, fence sitters, etc. This actually puts nuance at a severe discount — clarity is key. Battle speeches are not diplomacy. The same message must be received by all constituencies. Given the foregoing, but not addressing the policy merits, Obama’s speech was a failure. It transgressed both simplicity and consistency with its call for a July 2011 terminus (since walked backwards and forwards by a variety of administration shills). The speech was too long, and its length was spent badly. Where he might have outlined some basic tactics (a key according to SLA Marshall) he was silent about details — the numbers matter less than what one does with the troops. (Here both Bush and Petraeus excelled in defining broadly where and how new force would be applied.) Consistency also fell short because he reproached his predecessor, an gratuitous distraction from his message. Consistency was also violated by the other boundaries that Obama set. For example, in emphasizing, unnecessarily, in my view, that America’s war-making capacity was subject to economic limitations, should the Taliban to assume that American can be compelled to withdraw by, Heaven forbid, dynamiting the New York Stock Exchange? In general, a battle speech, or call to action is not the place to recite one’s limitations. One can imagine FDR calling for “the inevitable triumph” but “subject to the success of next war bond drive.” Moreover, civilian commanders-in-chief have a special responsibility in their battle speeches from which their military counterparts are exempt — rallying the civilian population. Here, Obama failed miserably, save for the only segment of the civil population that seemed to matter to him — the Democrats’ left wing. Unfortunately, in democracies, wars are not waged by placating special constituencies. They must enjoy broad based support. That begins with the “visible presence,” to use Patton’s phrase, of the president. The only resolution I observed during the speech were the stony faces in the audience. One final and related observation. Staging and props matter a good deal in these situations. Talking to a roomful of cadets was a mistake and another distraction. There are certain kinds of speeches, just like there are certain kinds of orders, lover’s messages, job terminations, and awful medical diagnoses, that one gives face to face, period. The only way for a president to do that is alone, behind his desk, in the Oval Office. There is no more awesome responsibility than ordering youngsters to what will be a certain death for some. And that can only be done by looking directly into the camera and thus into the hearts of his fellow Americans. The presence of a visible audience during the speech acts like an automobile bumper, absorbing the shock of the speech. But for some speeches, the shock should not be absorbed. The awesome, solemn, terrible business of ordering troops into battle is one of these. http://www.julescrittenden.com/2009/12/04/words-deeds/ The Snooper Report says: December 7, 2009 at 7:06 am Obama Is Lost On Afghanistan… Washington Post: McChrystal’s plan for Afghanistan war remains largely intact When he finishes testifying on Capito …… Skookum says: December 7, 2009 at 8:17 am Missy, you just threw another hard hitting overhand right to the center of Obama’s running lights. Nice punch gal. yonason says: December 7, 2009 at 12:08 pm WE WARNED THEM BEFORE THEY BOUGHT “Searching in Vain for the Obama Magic – By Gabor Steingart And now they can’t figure out why the box is empty. The surprise is that there is no surprise, which is what we on the Right have been telling them all along. But STILL they cling to their “hope,” despite the reality that should have long been obvious, had they been paying attention. Yet, despite the reality, they refuse to believe what is being so painfully revealed, that the joke’s as much on them as on us. Not so funny now that you are getting what you deserve, is it Gabor? The Thrill Is Gone, Obama Continues To Struggle « Moonbat Patrol says: December 7, 2009 at 4:25 pm […] to fall PAJAMASMEDIA Who says there’s no difference between Democrats and Republicans? FLOPPING ACES Last call on Obama’s Afghan Speech: The right hated it, the left hated it and … GATEWAY PUNDIT Global warming faithful descend on Copenhagen in style (video) ED MORRISSEY […] American Voter says: December 7, 2009 at 6:40 pm @ Missy — thanks for the link to Jules Crittenden’s site article — I am going to link to my email list and to as many other sites. . .as fitting. In addition to delivering a message of weakness, oBOWma delivered his speechwriter’s words with about as much passion as he exudes delivering his Saturday internet/radio broadcasts. . . B-Rob says: December 8, 2009 at 5:29 am *yawn* Obama makes a decision that will, hopefully, solve the mess that Bush left in his lap. He does it by sending more troops — just as he said (way back in 2007) that we should. Lefties are upset that he did what he said he would; cons are wetting the bed because they fear he just might make it work. I am reminded, of course, why Obama says he does not watch the cable news or polls: both are short term measures of opinion disconnected from any long-range analysis or strategy. Nope . . . just as with Obama continuing the Bush/Cheney auto bailout idea, and the stimulus package, and the management of the bank bailout, we will not know until 2011 or 2012 whether he made the right decision. I suspect we will see then that we are MUCH better off than we would be if anyone listened to the wingnuts and did nothing on the auto slide and nothing on banks* and no stimulus package, or pulled out of Afghanistan like some libs wished. * How would an extra 2 million people out of work look NOW cons? yonason says: December 9, 2009 at 10:44 am @B-Rob: Some people are so clueless. A brief review of who is causing America’s financial woes. “I suspect we will see then that we are MUCH better off than we would be if anyone listened to the wingnuts and did nothing on the auto slide and nothing on banks* and no stimulus package,…” “…MUCH better off,…” yeah, right.