September 14, 2007


When I first heard that George Bush would address the nation this week after the testimony of General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, I wondered who had made that mistake. The Republicans had put the Democrats back on their heels after the MoveOn debacle on Monday had revealed the low character of their base, and the news from Iraq made their rush to abandon Iraqis just when they had started to fight our enemies look even more craven. Momentum has shifted away from the defeat-and-retreat caucus.

Why interfere with that, unless President Bush had a heretofore unsuspected piece of good news that would provide a conclusion that surpassed what Petraeus had to say? Why not let the best voices on this issue resonate a while longer? If President Bush wanted to top Petraeus and Crocker, then he needed enough substance to make it worthwhile -- and he didn't.

It's not a bad speech, by any means, at least not as written; I didn't watch the delivery. However, it doesn't tell us anything really new. It contains essentially the same arguments for tenacity and patience in Iraq, and it outlines the same news of progress that we have highlighted on this blog for the last few weeks. The only news Bush delivered was the approval of Petraeus' recommendations, including the return of 5700 troops by Christmas and the end of the surge by next summer -- all of which we knew already, thanks to Petraeus, who delivered the message in more detail and with better credibility.

Had Bush made it a habit to address the American people for regular updates in prime time, this speech would have made more political sense. It would have seemed inconsistent not to have delivered a speech after this kind of week under those circumstances. However, Bush has only given a half-dozen prime-time national addresses during the Iraq War period, including the one that announced the surge this year. The occasions are so rare that they carry expectations of the extraordinary -- which leads to disappointment when they fail to deliver.

It seems superfluous to rehash the Petraeus testimony, especially given Petraeus' excellent delivery this week. The White House should have let Petraeus resonate and saved this for a daytime Rose Garden appearance.


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Comments (50)

Posted by John | September 14, 2007 8:38 AM

Most Americans have tuned Bush out, we are just not listening to him anymore. All the soaring rheortic about peace and democracy in the Mideast, and we are reduced to keeping a presence in Iraq just to keep Arabs from killing each other.

Then there was the immigration debate, when he called those opposed to the open flow of Mexicans nativists.

Focus now turns to the 2008 candidates; who will best speak to our national interest?

Posted by Ned | September 14, 2007 8:40 AM

Damned if he does, and damned if he don't.

all of which we knew already, thanks to Petraeus, who delivered the message in more detail and with better credibility.

I believe the President has great credibility.

Posted by Chris | September 14, 2007 8:44 AM

Captain Ed, I respectfully disagree. I wonder if the President thinks the testimony was heard by the people at-large. It's not a stretch to think not.

C'mon, there's not much of a choir left, and the choir heard the Petraeus and Crocker testimony. i think it was a neat wrap-up.

Posted by Angry Dumbo | September 14, 2007 9:05 AM

"Had Bush made it a habit to address the American people for regular updates in prime time, this speech would have made more political sense. It would have seemed inconsistent not to have delivered a speech after this kind of week under those circumstances."

Well put. I agree that President Bush has not wanted to be the face of the war on terror and has not made a habit of speaking to the media about the war. Still, President Reagan was laughed at by the media for suggesting that the USSR was an "evil empire." He laughed back, who can forget his off mic comment "bombing begins in five minutes." By no means is President Bush in the same league as the "great communicator," still I think you are correct to suggest that we need to see more but not less of him.

BDS makes the media look silly. The Olbermanns of the media are not winning any converts. We need to see more of President Bush simply because it makes media talking heads explode.

Posted by KBK | September 14, 2007 9:11 AM

I imagine you watched CSPAN, as I did. In contrast, the networks didn't provide very good coverage of Petraeus. In particular, the NBC Nightly News coverage was carefully edited in a partisan way, with 'balancing' remarks by Williams and Russert.

I thought Bush's speech to be pretty good, and his delivery was forceful and better than normal. For a lot of people, it's his speech that they'll remember.

Posted by Intrepid | September 14, 2007 9:20 AM

Look, I thought one of the big criticisms of Bush was that he was never "on offense" or that he needs to directly communicate more to the public.

I believe your criticism misplaced.

Posted by starfleet_dude | September 14, 2007 9:22 AM

I believe the President has great credibility.

To the contrary, this President has a credibility gap when it comes to Iraq like President Johnson did in Vietnam. The promise of a "Mission Accomplished", the much-alledged WMDs, the repeated promises of a flourishing democracy on the banks of the Tigris River only to see ongoing civil strife go on for years, have all called Bush's words about Iraq into doubt. The American people are getting very tired of a President who keeps saying we should never quit but never shows he's getting anywhere either. In sports, they eventually fire coaches who are like that, and any Republican Presidential candidate who says he's following Bush's game plan in Iraq is going to get plastered in 2008, IMNSHO.

Posted by Scott | September 14, 2007 9:24 AM


Bush struck while the iron was hot. The Democrats are in disarray due to the ad, but also, and more importantly, because their leadership made the same statements publicly before the hearings and before the ad ran: that Patreus and Crocker were not going to present the truth, that they were merely administration mouthpieces.

Other than the choice of words used by the Democratic senators and representatives vs. MoveOn, there was no difference in the attack, particularly in tone or in intent.

Posted by bman | September 14, 2007 9:27 AM

Perhaps the speech was meant for the Iraqis who need to know that the President is standing firm with them.

Posted by Teresa | September 14, 2007 9:27 AM

It's amazing to me that after promising for years that we were not going to stay permanently, that Bush suddenly reversed course and says now we will stay forever ala Korea. And that the Iraqi government has asked this of us. What Iraqi government? Maliki's government which no one seems to believe will be standing much longer? Last time I looked Congress had the power to make treaties. Can the president even make a unilateral decision about permanent bases?

And, from a purely partisan basis, raise your hand if you think it will help the Republican party in the next election to still have 100,000 plus troops in Iraq next summer.

Posted by english teacher | September 14, 2007 9:29 AM

you don't really think that it's the democrats who are "on their heels" because of the move on ad, do you?

Posted by owl2 | September 14, 2007 9:31 AM

Disagree completely with this post.

I watched hours of C-Span but most of my friends and neighbors did not. They received sound-bites, carefully edited by the Dem's MSM. They do not devote their hobby time to politics. Many of these people are Dem voters and sure, their minds are made up after the pure bs they are subjected to daily. They are good people but uninformed. They do not know they are being lied to by the MSM.

President George W Bush has great credibility with me. Not one word I have read on the blogs, that have all but turned against everything, if it originates or can even remotely touch his administration, has changed my mind. I have watched O'Reilly get blisters from that fence he has ridden over the years.

President Bush is the Commander, not Petraeus. I didn't vote for them, nor do I promote them to this level. That only gives another helping hand to the Dems in their unrelenting campaign to discredit my President.

Posted by Jeff | September 14, 2007 9:34 AM

Personally, I encourage the President to leave a public record of his unwavering principles.

I want history to show that, like President Lincoln, President Bush recognizes he's leading a very unpopular but necessary cause, but never tires of saying what that cause is and why it's right.

Leftists, being naturally arrogant and impulsive, want to render the historical verdict right now. But the reality is, not a singly baby-boomer will be alive when the actual scholarly history of our time is written. Doesn't that bring a smile to your face? It does mine.

Posted by athingortwo | September 14, 2007 9:46 AM

Cap'n, you and the other conservative bloggers who aped this same line couldn't be more wrong. For one, Petraeus works for the Commander in Chief, and Bush is CIC. He makes the decisions, he represents civilian control over the military, and it would have been unseemly for the CIC to not make an appearance, and either accept or reject the recommendations from his staffers. Third, it is important the the CIC have the confidence of the American people. Bush lost much of that during the inept administration of the military that preceded General Petraeus. Deservedly so. And likewise, Bush now deserves our respect and thanks for righting the ship, replacing the command structure, and putting Petraeus in a position to succeed in Iraq on our behalf.

Finally, you missed the overarching purpose of Mr. Bush's speech: he placed the Iraq struggle within the overall context of the greater war on terror, specifically the struggle against Al Qaeda worldwide, Iran, and Syria. Neither Petraeus or the Ambassador are of the "pay grade" to address those concerns ... only the CIC has that perspective and ability and degree of control and leadership to do so.

You critics, including lots of normally thoughtful people like Charles Krauthammer and Fred Barnes and others who criticized the CIC this week for "stepping on" the Petraeus appearance, just don't get it, do you?

That is why you guys are not at Mr. Bush's "pay grade", and he is. He's the Leader of the Free World, and you guys are just guys with opinions. Which like a certain body part, everybody's got one.

Posted by Angry Dumbo | September 14, 2007 9:52 AM

President Bush needs to repeat the words of UBL, and ask the American people if UBL is the enemy.

There remains a large majority of Americans who have no idea why we are fighting in Iraq and take the moral equivalent stand that the war (as is with all wars) is a pointless battle between two equally evil forces. A position of neutrality for the moral equivalence crowd provides them a feeling of moral and intellectual superiority (like listening faithfully to NPR each morning).

President Bush needs to again explain the case to those people who are sideline sitters and motivate them to get into the fight. He needs to tell them why it is we are fighting and who it is we are fighting for. Namely the victims of terrorism.

Most importantly, as he states the case for why we fight the position needs to be made in juxtaposition to the words of UBL. It is only a fortunate twist of fate that UBL is speaking Democrat talking points on the war. : ))

Posted by starfleet_dude | September 14, 2007 9:55 AM

Steve Benen offers an insight about Bush's speeck last night:

Given last night’s debacle, it appears the president failed to move the needle again. The truth is, Bush’s target audience wasn’t the electorate; it was Republicans. The president has already lost Americans who realize his policy doesn’t work; now, he just needs to make sure his blind loyalists keep GOP defections to an absolute minimum. As long as the “floor” doesn’t break, the White House can run out the clock on Bush’s presidency, and let his successor clean up his disaster.

The problem of course is that everyone knows this to be the case now, and the Republican candidates running for President know it too. What may work for Bush (running out the clock on his term by January 20th, 2009) certainly won't work for them given that they're trying to win the Presidency in 2008. About all they're going to win is perhaps a better chance to be the Republican nominee in 2012, unless they lose so badly that they're forever damaged goods afterwards.

Posted by athingortwo | September 14, 2007 10:00 AM

Well said, Jeff. Today's political pundits and bloggers, being part of a reactive, "right now" media culture, never seem to understand the proper perspective of a President ... a CIC, someone who has a responsibility for more than just reacting to the latest media wave or political thought of the day. The President must do what is right for America not only today, but for America long after his term is complete. GWB understands that and acts accordingly.

Reagan was roundly ridiculed throughout his two terms, and his popularity was down to its lowest point in the middle of his second term when he was fighting off the Iran Contra BS from Congress. That RR is now practically revered as a god by Republicans, and is even grudgingly respected by Dems and libs and MSM types, is not the way people said it would be back in January 1989 as he left office, or even in the previous two years of his last term. The so-called experts, even the pop-historians of the day, said then that Reagan would go down in history as one of the weakest most incompetent Presidents ever, thoroughly discredited by Iran Contra.


Pay no attention to the self-appointed "opinion leaders". Pay attention to what your own good sense tells you about what you actually see ... and not to what others tell you that you see. And that goes for the conservative pundits as well as the libs.

Posted by Captain Ed | September 14, 2007 10:01 AM


I'm puzzled. You understand that this is an *opinion site*, don't you? I'm here to give my opinion. If you don't like reading opinions, then why are you here?

What an odd comment.

Posted by Barnestormer | September 14, 2007 10:10 AM

Teresa: "Last time I looked Congress had the power to make treaties."

Looked at what, a Sean Penn post?

U.S. Constitution

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United states, and of the Militia of the several States....

He shall have the Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur....

Posted by Teresa | September 14, 2007 10:19 AM

Barnstormer -- I phrased that poorly. Bush made it sound last night as if he had unilateraly decided to make this treaty with the Iraqis. He certainly did not say anything about taking it to the Senate for approval. Your quote proves my point, the Senate HAS to approve treaties.

Posted by SoldiersMom | September 14, 2007 10:28 AM

"But the reality is, not a singly baby-boomer will be alive when the actual scholarly history of our time is written. Doesn't that bring a smile to your face? It does mine."

Well, for me, the answer is yes and no. I'm just tainted enough to want to see the Reid's, Murtha's, and Kerry's of today get annihilated as the Copperheads of old they've shown themselves to be.

Posted by Del Dolemonte | September 14, 2007 10:34 AM

starfleet_dude says:

"Steve Benen offers an insight about Bush's speeck last night:"

Steve Benen's "background", for those who are even interested:

"I worked as an intern at the Clinton White House’s Office of Speechwriting. From there I began writing campaign direct mail pieces for a major Democratic consulting firm. In 1996, I served as the communications director for an unsuccessful congressional campaign in Pennsylvania. Shortly thereafter, I joined the communications department at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, where I worked until 2002."

Yep, I'll certainly believe what this guy has to say about Bush's speech. The man is brilliant.

Posted by MarkT | September 14, 2007 10:45 AM

Del Dolemonte on September 4, 2007 4:20 PM

> I just find it hilarious that the first thing you
> leftists attack about Dr. Kagan's article is her
> family pedigree. Since you can't refute the points
> she made based on her recent trip to Iraq, you
> instead use the standard leftist ploy of personal
> attacks. Weak.

Del Dolemonte on September 14, 2007 10:34 AM

> Steve Benen's "background", for those who are
> even interested:
> ...
> Yep, I'll certainly believe what this guy has
> to say about Bush's speech. The man is brilliant.

Posted by starfleet_dude | September 14, 2007 10:56 AM

Via the Politico, more about Bush's speech last night:

In his testimony, Petraeus used the military science term “battlefield geometry” in describing how he figured out the number of troops he could afford to release. A top GOP Senate adviser complained after the speech: “The president needs better 'communication geometry' to prevent overreaching with happy talk."

When even GOP insiders are calling Bush's speech so much "happy talk", it's all over now Baby Blue...

All your seasick sailors, they are rowing home.
All your reindeer armies, are all going home.
The lover who just walked out your door
Has taken all his blankets from the floor.
The Oval Office carpet, too, is moving under you
And it's all over now, Baby Blue.

Posted by Al in St. Lou | September 14, 2007 11:02 AM

I just really have to hope that the Captain missed the part where Bush said he was going to veto the bill that hides pork more effectively. I didn't watch, but Bush simply must have said that.

On another note, I think many people tune in to see the president in prime-time who would never watch C-SPAN. So, I hope the speech brought the news to a much larger group of people.

Posted by Modcon | September 14, 2007 11:11 AM

Captian Ed, you are my favorite blogger in the whole world. Really, you are. But you---and everyone else, so far as I can tell---have missed the point here.

The most important point of the speech last night was the following message: We're never leaving Iraq.

President Bush told us so last night.

Posted by John Corn | September 14, 2007 11:14 AM

#3, Chris is correct. Few, other than the choirs, both pro and con choirs, watch the testimony and the MSM covers only the con side, so Bush summarizes the testimony in prime time and on all relevant channels. Capt Ed is right that a blockbuster of good news would have been nice but not necessary.

His conciliatory offering to the opposition for some patience with the fully explained rationale, believed or not, was the correct approach. I believe it emphasizes the narrow-minded arrogance of the skepticsleft, which in many cases of Congressional comments, in and out of the hearings, came across as either or both ignorant and disdainful/disrespectful.

The Dems refuse to answer (cannot, politically) what is almost certain to happen with an immediate withdrawal, even acknowledging that it would take the better part of a year following the Korb plan.

Posted by onlineanalyst | September 14, 2007 11:47 AM

Further roundup of (balanced) reactions to President Bush's speech and why it was necessary is here. Weighing in by "addressing the address" were Hanson, Kagan, Loyola, May, and Yon.

While most of us who follow news and opinion through the blogs are more familiar with events in Iraq and Iraq's role vis a vis the war on Islamoterrorism, the general public, whose understanding is shaped by the media's filter, needs to have these reminders through presidential addresses.

Clifford May's observations capture the importance of the speech, even as he admits wondering prior to its delivery why it was important:

"I know a lot of you thought: Petraeus and Crocker are doing fine, why does Bush need to butt in and let the antiwar cabal make this about him, rather than about them?

"But Thursday night Bush said something important — and he had to say it himself: Success in Iraq now means the U.S. defeats al Qaeda there (in what al Qaeda sees as the most important theater in its global struggle against us), frustrates Tehran’s hegemonic ambitions, and establishes a long-term relationship — political, economic and military — with the government and peoples of Iraq.

"No serious argument can be made that the U.S. national interest would be better served by the alternative: retreating from Iraq in exhaustion and disgrace; letting Iraq become an al Qaeda base and/or an Iranian colony. Yet the war’s opponents will attempt to make that case by saying al Qaeda in Iraq has nothing to do with al Qaeda Beyond Iraq; the mullahs of Tehran just want their legitimate grievances addressed; and, besides, Bush lost the battle for Iraq long ago.

"A stable Iraqi government that cooperates with the U.S. in the war against Islamist/terrorist states and movements would be less than the shining city on a hill that Bush intended to midwife back in 2003. But such an Iraq would be as good an ally — maybe better — than any other we currently have in the Muslim world. Surely, achieving that is preferable to a humiliating defeat – the outcome that and its associates fervently seek."

Posted by Jim | September 14, 2007 11:49 AM

Not everyone listened to the General. Bush had primetime...Petraeus did not. The General's assessment was further communicated by the President and cannot be considered as superfluous as some arm chair quarterbacks.

Posted by DubiousD | September 14, 2007 11:51 AM

Not everybody watches C-SPAN, Captain. A good portion of Americans still get their primary info from ABC/CBS/NBC. The prime time Bush speech was targeted to old school consumers of news who haven't the vaguest idea what a "blog" is.

We need those voters, too.

Posted by Barnestormer | September 14, 2007 11:54 AM

"Never leaving" may be a stretch; I would substitute "staying indefinitely." But enduring our relationship will surely be.

As for the subtlety of the message; why not? Circumstances will provide the justification--even for a Democratic president not named Jimmy.

Posted by BoWowboy | September 14, 2007 12:00 PM

Bush's speech last night ...........was neither brilliant nor detrimental to the Iraq War cause. I haven't seen the ratings .....but .......... I think most people didn't even watch it. He has lost all credibility in the War on (Jihad) Terror.

Especially in light of the confirmations (by more than two sources) recently that al Quaida, Hezbollah and Hamas have infiltrated the United States southern border, some by posing as Mexicans.

Posted by brooklyn - hnav | September 14, 2007 12:04 PM

Captain, sorry to disagree fully on this...

Kruthammer, Kondracke, and even Barnes on a lesser extent had a similar opinion on the panel prior to the speech.

Here is my point.

This is the President of the USA.

The idea any President should hide behind a General is absurd, and those who fail to grasp this President's character at this late hour are missing the big picture.

I feel those who thought the President of the USA should be weak, afraid to speak on the biggest issue of our time, are still stuck on the misguided negative perception of this Administration.

Bush doesn't care, thankfully, about poll data, and has lead with strength, ethics, honesty, etc...

The idea, after his General and Ambassador addressed Congress, a sitting President would remain silent failing to tell the American People further plans in an essential battle is simply absurd.

Political calculations?

That is what liberal Democrats do...

President Bush is not a coward, and it is stunning to see some critics, pundits, etc., suggest he should become one.

Posted by Trochilus | September 14, 2007 12:22 PM

Captain, I could not disagree with you more.

athingortwo | September 14, 2007 9:46 AM, you shot my fox!

You are absolutely correct that President George Bush was not just wise to make the speech, but indeed bears a Constitutional obligation, as the Commander in Chief, to speak on the issue and clearly articulate for all the official position of the United States.

This was clearly not just a matter of public relations, or addressing Republicans, as some seem to think.

In addition, there is the fact that the report was in response to a congressional mandate, pursuant to consistent with Section 1314 of the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007 (Public Law 110-28), the President's speech should be seen as a necessary complement to his report, required by federal law, on the progress in meeting the benchmarks, entitled the Iraq Benchmark Assessment Report.

Who in their right mind, as the President of the United States, would be so disrespectful just to file a written report required by law on a matter of such considerable import to the people of this country, without also reaching out and reporting their decision directly to the people of the nation?

Thankfully, this shows the President appreciates the full measure of duty and obligation he owes to all of us as our leader. And by his words, it is clear he also understands the necessity to, once again, reach out to all Americans in a spirit of accomodation to try and bind us together, not just to the Congress, but through appealing directly to the people.

Whatever political party you belong to, whatever your position on Iraq, we should be able to agree that America has a vital interest in preventing chaos and providing hope in the Middle East. We should be able to agree that we must defeat al Qaeda, counter Iran, help the Afghan government, work for peace in the Holy Land, and strengthen our military so we can prevail in the struggle against terrorists and extremists.

Posted by Mike Williams | September 14, 2007 12:42 PM

Ed, HR 2206 requires a status report from Bush to Congress by 15 Sep 2007 on 18 benchmarks for progress in Iraq. This is in addition to the Crocker/Petraeus testimony. So are you arguing that Bush shouldn’t share the unclassified version of this report with us – the American people – or that his speech did not address the 18 benchmarks, or what exactly? Personally, I agree with the Influence Peddler that Congress and its MSM enablers are trying to move the goal posts on Iraq, and I’m more than delighted to see Bush take up the gauntlet. In my opinion, it’s way too early to be throwing in the towel, and Bush should be getting a lot more credit – especially from the starboard side blogosphere – for holding course despite the rocks and shoals following the Golden Mosque bombing.

Posted by Nate | September 14, 2007 12:44 PM

I have to disagree on this one Captain Ed. Three points:

1. Bush has to try to reach the entire country, not just the few who watch C-SPAN and live in the blogosphere.

2. He can't rely on the MSM to treat the subject fairly or completely. It's the old "if you want it done right you have to do it yourself" thing.

3. The President has to do what a general could not, namely to appeal to the people (on the left) to (quit their bitching and) unite behind the war effort.

Posted by KBK | September 14, 2007 12:44 PM

Besides, Bush sent a lot of messages that Petraeus and Crocker could not voice. They were reporting on the situation. Bush is announcing his policies, ending with this:

“Some say the gains we are making in Iraq come too late,” Mr Bush said. “They are mistaken. It is never too late to deal a blow to al-Qaeda. It is never too late to advance freedom. And it is never too late to support our troops in a fight they can win."

Posted by Carol Herman | September 14, 2007 12:53 PM

And, I, too, continue to disagree.

Bush, last night, made an appeal to the People. Where, if this were polled, a lot of people were "less than thrilled" with all the congress critters.

So, people TUNED IN. And, if not? They looked for sites, like I did, where there was live blogging. For me? Little Green Footballs.

Which means you not only get links. Someone posted one to C-Span. It was too late when I got there; but I did see the incoherent rant by the Bonkey "response." Most people remain: NOT AMUSED.

The PResidency is similar to a large air craft carrier; in that a decision to make turns on the water, means, by definition, you've got to cut a wide swath. Ain't something ya can do on a dime.

Sure, I was looking for a big blast from Bush. But that's not his style. Coupled to the fact that Petraeus was HERE. And, not in the "theater" in Irak. Which he calls "home." And, he's stopping off in England, before he's baaack there.

Worth considering, that any plans that involve the USA, doing "something" beyond special ops reach. And, behind the scenes negotiations with Olmert, and the Israelis ... Is gonna happen only after Petaeus gives the signal. Not one darn moment "before."

And, next week? Well, I'm anticipating the Bush nominates Ted Olsen. His gets to be the "last call." Will he fold? Why think so? Why not think he'll play the Olsen "card?" First for AG. Where the Bonkeys hemmorhage, now, every time they do their stuff up on the Hill. (I haven't seen Harry Reid slam dunk anything. Unless you want me to count how many times he slams his own penis into the slots; where he thinks, perhaps, it belongs to the president? That man is really confused.)

And, while it seems slow ... next week can be another big one for the White House? You thought, perhaps, the president would leave after Rove left? Or Tony Snow goes? Why not think, instead, that the show must go on.

And, there's lots of things the President can choose from the menu.

Including, by the way, his choice to spend most of 2008 visiting foreign countries. Perhaps, he'll get better coverage than the diplomatic pants dancers at the UN?

Perhaps, Condi will go back to Stanford.

Perhaps, the sun rises in the East, t'marra.

Anyone who tells ya he's got the skinny on what happens t'marra, is lying. Nobody can call future events with any accuracy; because the science to do so hasn't been invented yet.

Oh, don't be fooled by scammers; who try to sell you the idea you can "buy in" early. You can't.

Posted by always right | September 14, 2007 12:54 PM

There is another thing to consider - Dems' "rebuttal".

Let’s have it on record, too.

Posted by John | September 14, 2007 1:00 PM

Did I hear the word "Victory" in Bush's speech last night?

If not, why not?

Posted by Nate | September 14, 2007 1:45 PM

John asked ...

Did I hear the word "Victory" in Bush's speech last night?

If not, why not?

No you didn't.

Because we have not yet won.

What you heard was a stated opinion that we CAN win, that it is damned important that we do so, and an appeal to the country to unite behind that effort. What part of that is hard to comprehend?

Posted by athingortwo | September 14, 2007 2:58 PM

Cap'n, you wrote:

"I'm puzzled. You understand that this is an *opinion site*, don't you? I'm here to give my opinion. If you don't like reading opinions, then why are you here?

What an odd comment."

I didn't say I don't like reading opinions, or as you suggest, I wouldn't come here to read and post.

I was opining, instead, that you and so many of the other conservative "opinion leaders" pushed your preemptive, "Bush is wrong to say anything after Petraeus" line, apparently in an attempt to dissuade him from doing so, and/or to dissuade the rank and file from listening to his speech. I pointed out that Bush is operating at a far higher "pay grade" than any of you, paying attention to concerns that go far beyond your worries over temporary political gamemanship. There is nothing "odd" about pointing out that opinions are just that, and Commanders in Chief are expected to have more on the ball than what so many urge him to focus on.

It does appear that a majority of your posters here agree with me that the President was fully correct in giving his speech last evening, putting himself on record as the "decider". I believe Mr. Bush deserves far more credit for the success of the surge and the new counterinsurgency strategy than many of his conservative media critics have heretofore been ready to give him.

After all, he recognized a problem, and then fixed it. And he did not hide or cut and run, or blame it on anyone else. He simply fixed it, and showed he was willing to risk his entire Presidency on the outcome. Nobody else in this affair did anything quite like that, not even General Petraeus, God bless his soul.

Your rank and file readers and posters, Cap'n, come here to share opinions because we're political enthusiasts (or "junkies" as some would probably say), and sharing opinions can be an enlightening exercise. But sometimes we come across published opinions that can seem to be just a form of distracting, perhaps even irritating, noise ... especially when such opinions are apparently designed to preemptively shut down or discredit people whom we very much want to hear from.

Your particular opinion suggesting that the President was wrong to speak out on this subject at this time was of that rather unhelpful vein.

Posted by athingortwo | September 14, 2007 3:08 PM

Oh, Cap'n ... if you don't like to read comment posts that disagree with your posts, then why do YOU come here to the comments section?

I would hope that you come here and gather at least some occasionally useful feedback from your readers (if not any rhetorical gems) from time to time.

You're in the opinion business, so this is what you get in the blogger's form of "customer feedback" ... like a double-edged sword, customer comments cut both ways.

Posted by Nate | September 14, 2007 3:16 PM

athingortwo said...

But sometimes we come across published opinions that can seem to be just a form of distracting, perhaps even irritating, noise ... especially when such opinions are apparently designed to preemptively shut down or discredit people whom we very much want to hear from.

Your particular opinion suggesting that the President was wrong to speak out on this subject at this time was of that rather unhelpful vein."

Whoa! I think that's a little over the top.

Though I didn't agree with his opinion this time around, I sure don't see his post as any kind of attempt to discredit anyone or shut down debate. On the contrary, much debate has ensued, and it is you who is trying to shut down and discredit someone who I very much enjoy hearing from.

So keep up the good work Captain Ed. In a world filled with damn fine blogs, this is about the best one going.

Posted by Captain Ed | September 14, 2007 4:04 PM

Thanks, Nate. Thing, I don't have a problem with people disagreeing with my opinion -- otherwise I would have gotten rid of the comments section, and believe me, it would have been tempting to have spent the weeks I did fixing the comments process on something else. I just find it amusing that you are shocked, shocked! to find opinions at an opinion site and not a knee-jerk defense of whatever George Bush says and does.

For the record, my post did not say that Bush shouldn't have given the speech, but that by doing it at prime time, he raised expectations and didn't really deliver. I agree with some commenters who believe that it spoke to a wider audience, and I think that's a fair counterargument. Given Petraeus' prime-time Fox and ABC interviews, though, I think Bush would have been better off leaving it at that, and doing the normal Rose Garden-style appearance as I argued above.

Posted by Terrye | September 14, 2007 4:18 PM

Ever notice how people give Bush hell no matter what? If he gives a speech, he is wrong, if he doesn't he is wrong. No matter what there is always someone out there who thinks they know better.

Well, it seems that Bush thought he had a responsibility to talk to the American people and that is what he did.

If the pundits don't like it, too bad.

Posted by Alex P. | September 15, 2007 1:36 AM

You've articulated exactly the crux of what I was thinking as I listened to Bush.

I was waiting for the bonus surprise to come popping out -- did the Israelis touch off some nasty nuke stuff in what was to become that big hole in the Syrian desert? Surely Bush would say something on that event. But no, nothing at all in his speech was at all surprising, or even really news.

I like your analysis on these matters Captain Ed. That's why I keep coming back again and again for more.

Posted by athingortwo | September 15, 2007 8:01 AM

Cap'n - nobody posting here is "shocked, shocked! to find opinions at an opinion site", nor does anybody expect you to put up a "knee-jerk defense of whatever George Bush says and does".

(although that is a rather curious phrase to post on a conservative blog site, in the context of a discussion of the ability or right of a Republican President to address the people on the most important issue of the day ... the issue that does and will define his Presidency for all time. Not only does the war defines Mr. Bush's Presidency, but it is the singular issue that, far more than any other, unites Republicans and self-described conservatives, according to virtually all the polls).

To be honest, the suggestion by you and some other conservative pundits that the President should take a low profile (or whatever you want to call your Rose Garden communications strategy) because he somehow does not have the standing or the right or the responsibility to interfere with the effect of the General Petraeus presentation, is interpreted by me as a measure of your disrespect of both the office and the person filling it.

You may deny that you intended to communicate such disrespect of President Bush, but that is what sticks in my craw right now.

Then when you start throwing out sputtering defensive rhetoric about you not being some "knee-jerk" Bush defender, you risk further offense to your core readers and customers who post here. Because by writing that phrase - a favorite of the deranged left these days - you are in effect suggesting that those of us who DO support our President on the most important issue of the age are in fact "knee-jerk Bushies" ourselves. I find that suggested inference to be quite offensive, especially considering the source.

As it is said, when you find yourself in a hole, Cap'n, the first line of action is to stop digging.

Posted by gaffo | September 15, 2007 9:52 AM

"Then when you start throwing out sputtering defensive rhetoric about you not being some "knee-jerk" Bush defender, you risk further offense to your core readers and customers who post here. Because by writing that phrase - a favorite of the deranged left these days -"

FYI, most of us prefer the term "Bushbots" these days.

currently sitting at 28-percent.

Posted by owl2 | September 15, 2007 6:32 PM

Wrong again, gaffo. Try 34-37%.

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