September 14, 2007

Yosemite Sam

Scanning the blogs I don't see many of my usual reads very impressed with the President's speech last night. Watching last night, I was reminded of the comedian Kathleen Madigan's take on which Bush we get in press conferences or speeches. In one, there is the smug Bush, she compares this one to Yosemite Sam. But last night was the "contrite" Bush and didn't even seem to need an instruction to "be serious." As Sully noted:

He seemed almost broken to me. His voice raspy, his eyes watery, his affect exhausted, his facial expression almost bewildered. I thought I would feel angry; but I found myself verging toward pity. The case was so weak, the argument so thin, the evidence for optimism so obviously strained that one wondered whom he thought he was persuading.


The low-point was his almost desperate recitation of a poignant email that posited that this war is one between "good" and "evil". I don't doubt the sincerity of the sentiment; I don't doubt either that the murderous extremes of sectarian hatred or religious fanaticism are, at some level, evil. I know that the motives of many people who supported this war - and many who still support it - are honorable. And I know that America is ultimately a force for good in this world. But that doesn't mean that America is incapable or error or immorality. And to reduce the immense complexity of Iraq to such a binary moralism is a sign of a president reaching for comfortable, Manichean abstractions as a replacement for strategic judgment and knowledge. The American people deserve better from a war-president: more honesty, more candor, more realism.

Well said. When the President read that email, I thought of all the other emails or letters he could have read--or blogs or op eds from people who have lost relatives in this war of choice. And that is what I would like him to acknowledge. This is his war of his choosing and his management. He can talk about the "generals on the ground" all he wants. But we all know he has ignored any advice counter from what he already believes. That isn't leadership.

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