June 29, 2005

Bush's Speech

I'm in Europe, unfortunately, and have early morning travel tomorrow. Even a die-hard political junkie like me can't stay up until 3 AM to then blog the speech through 4, only to wake up several hours later and head off to a busy airport and travel day. So consider this an open thread, of sorts, and please let me know how you think Bush fared and what you thought of the speech. I'll digest comments, read the text in the Trib tomorrow, and try to blog my take by Thursday morning Europe time. See you soon.

P.S. Since I won't be seeing the speech but rather reading the text--I'd appreciate a little feedback on the intangible 'feel' people got from his delivery--as well as the basic vibe of the insta-commentary on the networks immediately after. Thanks in advance!

Posted by Gregory at June 29, 2005 12:08 AM | TrackBack (1)
Comments


I wasn't keen on the delivery - but then I never am with either President Bush or the Prime Minister. I'm pretty hard to please as speeches go. And I'm a Brit so it may be that what didn't appeal to me did appeal to a lot of Americans.

Overall I think the President got quite a bit right and this was closer to what I think a lot of us have been looking for than previous efforts - but not close enough. If this was meant to create some sort of serious change in the climate, especially with regard to erosion of support, I don't think it will work, except possibly in the short term.

Posted by: Anthony C at June 29, 2005 02:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I can't really comment on the substance like others here, but the general delivery was his standard M.O.

When he was approaching the podium though, he totally reminded me of a high school student accepting a diploma, or my friend who almost burst out laughing while participating in a marriage ceremony. He still needs a bit of work on "solemn". But maybe he just doesn't do solemn.

Posted by: TG at June 29, 2005 03:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The speech was a really lamentable performance, almost exclusively cobbled together from previously delivered stump speeches and clinging to the 9/11 reference in a manner suggestive of a drowning man clinging to a piece of wood.

Everything about Bush's appearance pointed to this being an improvised response to a public relations emergency, not a planned presentation of administration policy. Only the absence of applause after each cheer line (with one exception when, according to Terry Moran of ABC, a member of the White House advance team initiated a round of applause) distinguished this from a speech President Bush might have given to any picked audience of Republican Party contributors and campaign workers.

Personally, I think it ought to be clear by now that this really is the best Bush is capable of when forced to address an issue of this gravity in public. The alternative is to have nothing at all coming out of the White House except for the press secretary's rote recitation of each day's message and whatever the Vice President might be in the mood to say, and during wartime that really wouldn't be acceptable. Looking on the bright side I suppose it is possible that military personnel in Iraq, presented with this fresh evidence that they can expect no help or useful guidance from the political leadership in Washington, will turn to their duties with renewed zeal in the knowledge that the whole burden of reaching some kind of success in Iraq rests with them.

Posted by: JEB at June 29, 2005 03:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

JEB, I think you're being a touch harsh. There were some good things. The problem is that they were pretty much matched by some bad things and though he was more candid, he wasn't candid enough. I've got some mates who are junior army officers and we'd been discussing this and basically the consensus was that we needed a real straight-shootin' tell-it-how-it-is-warts-and-all speech. That's not what was on offer. It was better, but probably not better enough.

In a moment of grotesque self-promotion I'd just ntoe that I've blogged it here:

http://irregularanalyses.blogspot.com/2005/06/presidents-speech.html

Oh one thing I forgot to mention in the blog post (because I forgot to note it down) - he's still playing some slight of hand with Iraqi troop numbers, though he did acknowledge that they are at varied stages of preparedness.

I may change my views over the next few days but for now I stick with my blog verdict - we'll see a positive spike in both the president's popularity and in support for the war but it'll be short term. Another couple of weeks to a month and it'll be back to business as usual.

Posted by: Anthony C at June 29, 2005 04:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg...I thought it was both predictable (I wrote a post yesterday about how often Bush would mention terror, terrorists or terrorism, and I was pretty much spot-on) as well as shocking---the latter because of the pure unabashed brazenness with which the mission in Iraq is being redefined. It will be interesting to see how this plays and if Bush's poll numbers immprove, or if the public is onto him and can't be fooled anymore.

Posted by: The Cunning Realist at June 29, 2005 04:17 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

nice, comfy place you got here :)..

Posted by: guile at June 29, 2005 06:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Who are you people? Don't you remember your own Prime Minister saying, so unforgettably, Never give up. Never give up. Never give up. If that's all he had said during WWII it would have been enough. And to this day, anyone who pays attention to history, or watches the History Channel, knows what an unfailing spirit the British had during that Great Storm. I love my President!! He might stumble when he speaks or not do "solemn" well, but I trust him. He has set his course to protect this country and will not be turned away from it. That is the kind of leader I am so thankful we have here in the U.S.A.

Posted by: Beth Barnat at June 29, 2005 07:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Who are you people? Don't you remember your own Prime Minister saying, so unforgettably, Never give up. Never give up. Never give up. If that's all he had said during WWII it would have been enough. And to this day, anyone who pays attention to history, or watches the History Channel, knows what an unfailing spirit the British had during that Great Storm. I love my President!! He might stumble when he speaks or not do "solemn" well, but I trust him. He has set his course to protect this country and will not be turned away from it. That is the kind of leader I am so thankful we have here in the U.S.A.

is this parody? or are you serious?

Posted by: p.lukasiak at June 29, 2005 11:49 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

i heard it on radio.

I thought his delivery wasnt bad, for him. What he said was what he said. The clear emphasis was "long hard slog, but yes theres real progress" not "last throes" Of course he didnt try to paint how bad it is - his starting assumption is that we've heard that, and that it was his job to A. Acknowledge that and B. Put it in context.

Of course he talked about 9/11. Mainly in terms of why we shouldnt leave now, in which he was absolutely correct. Secondarily to reinforce the democratization grand strategy, which is hardly something new.

Some things that stood out.

Quoted Gerhard Schroeder, of all people, on the importance of winning in Iraq. Several mentions of the involvement of our allies, and not just of the Coalition of the Willing.

Several references to military families, etc. I strong emphasis on being aware of the casualties and costs to our troops, whether he actually goes to funerals or not.

All in all, about as good as I expected.

Posted by: liberalhawk at June 29, 2005 02:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The first half of the speech was fairly good, a maturity to GWB we haven't seen much before. Would that he finished the same way. The second half of the speech made me doubt the things I liked in the first half. Oh well.

One note: I really wish he hadn't given the address in a hall full of people. Ostensibly President Bush is trying to convince his fellow citizens of some set of propositions. I need him to sit or stand there and look into the camera and explain it to me. When he gives such a speech to a hall full of people and his eyes naturally wander around the room, as with any orator, it distracts me from the lesson he's trying to impart and sends the message that my learning x,y,z from him is quite secondary -- which is pretty annoying.

Posted by: Martin at June 29, 2005 02:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I noticed that too, Martin. In one sense the forum was the worst of both worlds: a speech filled with cheer lines was delivered to an audience that was not there to cheer. Better the President should have delivered a different speech without the audience.

But the forum is only a detail. The main thing is that we are not going to get a better or different speech from this President. In the first year or so of a new President's term it may sometimes be all right to indulge the conceit that if he only presented our ideas in the way we would express them he would be more persuasive.

Bush is no longer a new President; there are no mysteries here. The American public's reaction to 9/11 was his personal high point, so there is no way he will deliver a speech about foreign affairs or, especially, Iraq without cloaking himself in 9/11 references. He is disengaged from virtually all aspects of military operations, so his discussion of what our armed forces are doing in Iraq will always be somewhat vague. A novice in foreign affairs before taking office and plainly insecure about his limited knowledge and experience, he will always use rhetoric designed to reinforce his campaign image as a plain talker who means what he says.

Bush is what he is. His personal limitations impose limitations on what it is possible for the government to do in Iraq and elsewhere, and will continue to do so. It is still possible, albeit far more difficult than it might be, for successful policies to be developed and implemented at lower levels of government without effective guidance or leadership from the White House; it has been done in previous administrations, and from time to time has been done in this one also. That is what we are left with now as far as Iraq is concerned.

Posted by: JEB at June 29, 2005 03:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

'Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told "Larry King Live" he was satisfied Bush made his case.

"I think the president laid out tonight an excellent scenario of what the realities are and what we face. (The American people) needed that. Now we need to show some progress on the ground," he said.'

Posted by: liberalhawk at June 29, 2005 07:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I watched his recital and it was just as expected: a regurgitation of well-worn sound bites for the purpose of deflecting the public's unease and anger until more "hard work" can make "America safer".

Beth Barnat, yes, he is the President, but he's not the kind of leader I'm thankful for. Setting the course comes with the office, but that doesn't make him a leader. Lest we forget, Captain Smith set the course for the Titanic.

Posted by: TLB at June 29, 2005 07:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey,
God must have chosen to make Bush President, and since God doesn't do anything without a purpose, I know that God made Bush President to fight thw war on terror.
There is no need to worry about the details, as I am assured that Bush and Jesus Christ are protecting me day and night.

You naysayers need to read less Sartorial and more LeHais and Jankins.

Posted by: marky at June 30, 2005 12:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I was about to contribute my stiver to this thread, but after this most recent cheap, snarky shot I'll demur. Good night, all.

Posted by: John Van Laer at June 30, 2005 04:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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