4:53PM Tonight, after 18 tumultuous months in office, President Obama faces his toughest challenge yet: To claim credit in Iraq without driving a thankful nation to laughter and tears, but mostly laughter.
4:54PM From the comments over at Ye Olde VodkaPundit homepage: “Tempted to sip a beer every time he refers to himself, but I only have five left in the ‘fridge.”
I have a case of Absolut in my studio bar.
And that’s why I’m a highly-paid professional.
4:55PM We’re having tech issues with the timestamps — but I promise you, this ain’t Memorex, folks.
4:58PM Just so you know I’m not a totally biased hack: The new Oval Office redo is quite handsome, a big improvement over the previous Administration. It ain’t quite hope, but at least it’s change.
5:04PM Whew — CNN audio is down, but late to the game with C-Span.
5:04PM “Operation Iraqi Freedom is over,” according to a schedule set by President Bush.
5:05PM “This completes the transition…” Hey, did you know more than 20 combat brigades remain in Iraq?
5:05PM Since I missed the first couple minutes, has anyone hear the word… Surge?
5:06PM “Advising and assisting Iraqi security forces.” And blowing the stuff out of stuff, as needed. Hooah!
5:07PM Surge? Anyone? Anyone?
5:07PM “Long term approach to Iraq?” It’s the same policy from 2008, thanks to The Surge of 2007. Any thanks? Any mention?
5:08PM “What America can do, will do, is provide support… ” “Ending this war…” Win? Surge? Anyone?
5:08PM Tight budgets at home? And he’s only just now crediting the troops? Pardon while I refill. Twice.
5:09PM “Time to turn the page.” And, this is an exact quote: “Contentious. Pause. Issue. Pause. At home. Pause.” Glitchy prompter?
5:09PM Bush got a mention, the troops got two mentions — but I haven’t hear thanks to either one.
5:10PM “Disrupt, dismantle, defeat.” Here’s the pivot to Afghanistan.
5:11PM Petraeus — I know that name. Didn’t he have something to do with that other country he talked about tonight? Iraq or something?
5:12PM “Next August, a transition to Afghan responsibility.” “This transition will begin.” In other words, “al Qaeda, just keep your heads down until next August, because Joey Biden finally got one right.”
5:12PM “Old adversaries are at peace.” Thanks to the… anyone? Anyone?
5:13PM “The effort to expand freedom begins within our own borders. So let’s start repealing some laws.” I made up that second part.
5:13PM “We spent a trillion dollars on Porkulus, much of it borrowed from overseas.”
5:14PM Uh… I might’ve misquoted again.
5:14PM Grit! Common purpose! THESE are the words that have defined this Administration.
5:15PM What the hell is this? Seriously. We were promised an update on Iraq. Instead we’re getting a defense of Obamanomics, which unlike the Surge (anyone?), has been a total failure.
5:16PM “As long as I am President, we will maintain the finest fighting force.” Very fine. Very, very small.
5:16PM Here’s where he gets credit: Obama has been quite good with Veterans’ Affairs. Of course, all that takes is money, and he’s never been shy about spending that.
5:17PM “Just a convoy of brave Americans, making their way home.” That was kinda nice.
5:18PM “Fought in a faraway place for people they never knew.” This is as close to stirring as I’ve heard Obama. And he either cracked a little, or has a dry throat. Can’t say for sure.
5:19PM “Better days lie ahead. Thank you.”
Let’s hope so.
5:22PM Short speech. Delivered… as competently as I’ve ever heard him, which isn’t saying much.
But if there was a theme, I couldn’t detect it. Things wound down in Iraq, but the Man from Mars watching this speech would have no idea why. Things just… wound down, causelessly. And things are winding up in AfPak, so that we might defeat a terror network currently more active in Yemen and Somalia and elsewhere. And veterans are wonderful, and we can rely on our soldiers and… so we should support his domestic program?
There was some stirring language, some nearly-stirring imagery. But otherwise, this speech was as devoid of content as your typical Presidential Arbor Day Awareness Pamphlet.
5:26PM Finally, Ed Driscoll reminds me that Zombie declared V-I Day nearly two years ago — and that seems about right.
5:28PM Before I retire to the upstairs wet bar, I’ll leave you with this oh-so-subtle reminder of days gone past.
Way, way past.