President Obama’s Oval Office speech on the termination of combat operations in Iraq was so half-hearted and detached, it was a little hard to discern its true meaning. I don’t think anyone has captured the nature of Obama’s discussion of President Bush better than Paul Mirengoff. Paul relegated this observation to an update in “Sometimes the past really is a foreign country,” but it deserves to be highlighted:
In his speech, Obama was his slippery self when it came to President Bush. He acknowledged that Bush is patriotic and cares about the troops — how big of Obama — but gave him no credit for the surge or for liberating Iraq and the region from Saddam Hussein (who went unmentioned).
Obama pointed out that it was from the very desk in the oval office where he was sitting that Bush sent troops into Iraq. Thus, he tried to rub in Bush’s unpopular decision — and contrast it to his more popular one — without mentioning the decision Bush made that turned the situation around and made it possible (or perhaps I should say conceivable) for Obama to exit Iraq honorably.
Obama eventually mentioned the Iraq surge, but only in connection with Afghanistan and by way of patting himself on the back for using the same approach in that theater. But he didn’t acknowledge the fact that the Bush administration crafted and successfully implemented that approach in Iraq.
In sum, Obama tried to give the appearance of graciousness without actually being gracious. Among his many other faults, the man has no class.
In my view, Paul nailed the rest of what Obama had to say (and didn’t say) in “A limp and boring speech.”