Bush Speaks On Iraq

President Bush is speaking at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina tonight, reassuring a skittish nation about the progress in the war in Iraq. He has a tough job tonight.

7:04PM CST: Bush begins by laying out the stakes in the war on terror and reaffirming the Bush Doctrine. I’d like to see him more strongly put Iraq in context – we’re fighting in iraq because the only way to defeat the terrorists is to end the systems of oppression that allow these groups to flourish – not just al-Qaeda, but the next terrorist group that may follow in its place. It isn’t enough to just “go after al-Qaeda” – they’re a symptom of a larger problem.

7:06PM CST: The question Bush must answer – “is our sacrifice worth it?” Bush must answer this question.

7:07PM CST: Bush quotes bin Laden himself – an interesting choice.

7:09PM CST: Bush is good when he has a mission – and he has a mission tonight. I think this speech, while not yet great, helps remind the American people of what we’re fighting, why we’re fighting, and how far we’ve gone. However, Bush can’t quite muster that Chuchillian eloquence I’d really wish we’d see tonight. But then again, he still has time.

7:13PM CST: Bush is speaking about the Iraqi security forces. I think it’s important that he stresses that this isn’t a war between the United States and Iraq, this is a war in which the people of Iraq and the United States are working together to defeat terrorism. They’re our allies, and we should recognize that they’re making immense sacrifices to defeat terrorism.

7:16PM CST: Bush speech has one of the things I dislike about modern political oratory – a laundry list of facts and figures. We don’t need the details about this war. We need to understand why we’re fighting and why we must win. This is more of a policy address than a great piece of wartime oratory.

I’d also like to see Bush address two groups directly: the American people, and the Iraqi people. We’re in this war together, and both groups need some reassurance and some courage to get through the next few months and years.

7:19PM CST: Bush won’t set a deadline. Good for him — the idea of a deadline for withdrawal is a completely idiotic idea, and Bush does a good job of making this clear.

Do we have enough troops in Iraq? Bush says that the commanders in the field say we do not. I’d be curious to know if this is true. I don’t believe that more troops are the panacea that some would say, but I think there are many in the military who would argue that we need more boots on the ground – we certainly did earlier on when the Sh’ia uprising of April of 2004 stretched our forces to the limit.

7:22PM CST: Bush is putting a lot of weight on an Iraqi constitution. It is important, but it’s going to be a long process in getting there.

7:23PM CST: Bush is right to point out that the events in Iraq have emboldened democratic change in other regions, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. I would have also liked him to mention that Kuwaiti women now have the right to vote – in large part because their Iraqi neighbors do now.

7:24PM CST: Don’t mess with Texas, and don’t mess with the US when there’s a Texan in the White House. There’s no doubt about Bush’s determination, but will the American people follow. The left certainly won’t, but Bush needs to appeal to the people who are uneasy about this war.

7:26PM CST: “We will stand and fight until this fight is won.” Damn straight.

7:27PM CST: Bush is speaking to our military, and he always has a clear respect and admiration for our fighting men and women. It comes through in his speech, which is why the mllitary respects him as they do.

7:29PM CST: Bush finished this speech with some real emotion. He said most of the things he needed to say, and while this wasn’t a speech for the ages, it was a reminder that our Commander in Chief is one tough SOB, and we won’t let a bunch of terrorist thugs win and extinguish the hopes of freedom for Iraq and security for us.

That was quintessential Bush. Not necessarily eloquent, but determined and principled. Bush isn’t a great orator, but he speaks to the common man. That common touch makes a big difference.

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