May 30, 2014

JAMES TARANTO ON OBAMA’S SPEECH: No Point at West Point: A foreign policy of cliché and equivocation.

Even the New York Times found President Obama’s speech at West Point yesterday wanting: “The address did not match the hype, was largely uninspiring, lacked strategic sweep and is unlikely to quiet his detractors, on the right or the left.” According to the Times, the president “provided little new insight into how he plans to lead in the next two years,” instead “falling back on hackneyed phrases.”

The editorial itself concludes with the hackneyed observation that only time will tell what the future holds: “This was far from Mr. Obama’s big moment. But since he has no office left to run for, what matters ultimately is his record in the next two and a half years.”

Obama framed the speech as follows: “The question we face, the question each of you [newly graduated Army officers] will face, is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead–not just to secure our peace and prosperity, but also extend peace and prosperity around the globe.”

Not whether, but how. That raises, perhaps even begs, the question: What about where? In a subsequent interview, NPR’s Steve Inskeep put the question directly, invoking two of Obama’s predecessors: Reagan, who “wanted to roll back communism by whatever means,” and Lincoln, who was determined to save the Union. “As you look at the moment of history that you occupy,” Inskeep asked, “do you think you can put into a sentence what you are trying to accomplish in the world?”

Obama answered in the negative.

For someone who’s supposed to be really smart, he doesn’t seem especially bright.

Plus: “So America isn’t in decline, contrary to Obama’s critics, and Obama’s critics are making America weak. Can he really have it both ways?” As long as the press lets him.