Bush doubles down

It may seem shallow to rate a major policy speech as if it were a monologue in a movie, but performance is a major component of the president’s job. His role tonight was to reassure the American people that the sacrifice he’s asking of them, at a time when a majority is willing to throw ...

604923_bush_live_02.jpg
604923_bush_live_02.jpg

It may seem shallow to rate a major policy speech as if it were a monologue in a movie, but performance is a major component of the president's job. His role tonight was to reassure the American people that the sacrifice he's asking of them, at a time when a majority is willing to throw in the towel, is worth it.

So how did Bush do?

The strategy was clearly to present a new realism to the American people, and to convey that, as Bush said, "America's commitment is not open-ended."

It may seem shallow to rate a major policy speech as if it were a monologue in a movie, but performance is a major component of the president’s job. His role tonight was to reassure the American people that the sacrifice he’s asking of them, at a time when a majority is willing to throw in the towel, is worth it.

So how did Bush do?

The strategy was clearly to present a new realism to the American people, and to convey that, as Bush said, “America’s commitment is not open-ended.”

Never mind that for the past year or more, we’ve heard Bush and military commanders claim that “the strategy is working” and that Iraqi security forces are “making progress.” Now, Bush admits, “the opposite happened.” “The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people – and it is unacceptable to me,” he said.

We’re supposed to believe that 140,000 American soldiers and Marines couldn’t secure Baghdad and the area around it (where Bush said 80% of the sectarian violence was taking place), but an additional 21,500 troops is just the ticket. Throw in a new reconstruction coordinator, some adjustments in deployments around the region to send a message to Iran, and greater cooperation with nervous Sunni Arab allies. There won’t be any negotiation with Syria and Iran, as the Washington consensus now deems necessary to stabilize Iraq. 

The big picture is this: Increasing U.S. reliance on Sunni autocracies in order to set Iraq up as a shining example for citizens in those countries to emulate, while standing firm to isolate Iran and prevent it from getting the Bomb.

Maybe it will work this time. Color me unconvinced. But read Bush’s speech and make up your own minds.

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