Last night, President Obama said:
This vast and diverse citizenry will not always agree on every issue — nor should we. But I also know that we, as a country, cannot sustain our leadership, nor navigate the momentous challenges of our time, if we allow ourselves to be split asunder by the same rancor and cynicism and partisanship that has in recent times poisoned our national discourse.
It’s easy to forget that when this war began, we were united — bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack, and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear. I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again. I believe with every fiber of my being that we — as Americans — can still come together behind a common purpose.
It was a nice thought, well expressed. As I have noted, though, the president’s denunciation of rancor, cynicism, and partisanship is difficult to reconcile with the opening portion of his speech. There, he took gratuitous shots at President Bush’s Iraq and Afghanistan policies. He also seemed to take credit for the relatively positive outcome in Iraq without mentioning Bush’s courageous decision to launch the surge that played a key role in turning the tide.
Now we learn, via Steve Hayes, that Vice President Biden, in an email to supporters touting Obama’s speech, said of the new policy towards Afghanistan: “It’s a clean break from the failed Afghanistan policy of the Bush administration, and a new, focused strategy that can succeed.”