I watched President Bush’s speech on Iraq tonight, and was rather underwhelmed. I don’t disagree with the President — we cannot allow Iraq to fall into chaos. We have a moral obligation to help our Iraqi allies. The war in Iraq is a crucial part of the war on terrorism.
The problem is that the President didn’t give us the clear answers to why we’re in Iraq that the American people are demanding. It is not that there aren’t clear and cogent answers, it is that the President doesn’t seem to be able to communicate them.
It is welcome news that the security situation in Iraq is improving. It is welcome news that some of our troops can go home. What we need is a clearer explanation of why we’re in Iraq and how we can get out without causing further problems in the region.
The President has a powerful bully pulpit, and had he used it more effectively this war would be far less controversial than it has been. The American people need to know why we’re fighting in Iraq and why we need to win. They didn’t get clear answers from the President tonight, and men like General Petraeus and Senator McCain have done a much better job of explaining the situation.
The President did not have the right tone tonight. He didn’t give the clear answers that the American people have been looking for. Even though the situation in Iraq is improving, the political situation at home remains tenuous for the pro-victory caucus. That is because the man who is the leader of the country and the Commander in Chief hasn’t done as well as many bloggers have done in defending this war.
I have a great deal of respect for the President, and I find most of the puerile attacks against him to be disgusting. At the same time, a President must first and foremost be a leader. The President has not been the kind of leader he needs to be, and the American people need strong and forthright leadership at this critical junction in history. President Bush can inspire a nation, as he did six years ago in the wake of the September 11 atrocities. He didn’t reach those heights today, and that means that the political stalemate in Washington will continue for some time.