Drunkblogging the President's Afghanistan Speech
4:41PM I started early -- with the cocktails, that is. And I think tonight for good reason.
A little background.
Let's set the Wayback Machine to December 1, 2009. That night, President Obama gave his Surge speech to the cadets at West Point. In that speech, Obama was so effortlessly disengaged he might as well have been a high-performance clutch. And that's when he was articulating the reasons for his huge increase in the Afghan War effort. Now -- can you imagine how disengaged he'll be tonight? Because tonight isn't a victory speech. It's a speech where he'll say, essentially, "We've done some stuff and now we'll do less stuff and here's the timetable for doing less stuff."
That's why I had my first martini a full two hours before the speech.
4:54PM We "really put a dent in al Qaeda," is the excuse being mongered on CNN. Well, we did that with a small-footprint, Biden-approved SEAL operation. Pretty much a repudiation of the Surge. So now we unsurge. Desurge?
And then the dent will pop back out. Let's call the unsurge "Operation Coathanger." (DIY car repair folks will get it.)
4:57PM From Anderson Cooper: "How will the drawdown affect operations on the ground."
Correct Answer: "There will be fewer troops to do stuff, Captain Obvious."
Actual Answer: Technical difficulties talking to CNN's man on the scene.
I think he was trying to give the Correct Answer.
4:58PM Say... we'll have 30,000 fewer troops in Afghanistan right around the time Obama needs to rally the doves in his base for his reelection.
I totally just now noticed that!
4:59PM From the RBJ in the comments: "What’s uncertain is the ratio of 'I's to 'troops'?"
5:00PM Candy Crowley: He'll say "we're on the right trajectory."
Obama has said the same thing about jobs for two years now.
I need a drink.
5:01PM "He certainly had a degree of success." Napoleon had many degrees of that.
5:02PM Here he is...
5:02PM "Worst attack on our shores since Pearl Harbor." Spoken like a man who heard about that once.
5:02PM "Then our focus shifted." Bush took his eye off the ball! Booooooooooosh!
5:03PM Tolly-bahn. I hate those guys.
5:04PM "Re-focus on al Qaeda, reverse momentum, and other stuff until we draw down our forces."
We shall withdraw from the beaches, we shall withdraw from the landing fields...
5:05PM "Our mission will change from combat to support... by 2014... from a position of strength." And yet I still don't undertand what's been done, or why the drawdown must happen now.
5:05PM Reminder: "I killed bin Laden!" Well done, sir -- well done. But that op didn't require a surge.
5:06PM "Our allies increased their commitments." But then they took their eye off the ball to invade Libya. Because of Booooooosh!
5:06PM Surge worked: Women and minorities affected most.
5:07PM "Peace needs... a political settlement." If I were Karzai, I'd start sleeping in a bunker. In Pakistan.
5:07PM First impression: Clipped speech, uninspired. It's just another mess he inherited.
5:08PM Wow. Kabul is going to start functioning like a real national government, because Obama said it "must." And it will do so with less support from us.
5:09PM "This has been a difficult decade."
Well -- yeah. Duh. But, please, Mr. President, say it like you mean it. It's like he's announcing a "worthwhile Canadian initiative."
5:10PM "The tide of war is receding."
Churchill, he ain't.
5:10PM Here it comes! "Some would retreat from Nevada... " Others would nuke the crap out of Holland..." "But I am the sane centrist!"
5:11PM Obama's vision for national security? "We must rally international action, where our allies took their eye off the ball and we're not really engaged."
5:11PM Er, in Libya, re that last comment.
5:12PM "We will support those Arab revolutions by setting a nice example and saying nice things."
5:12PM Oh good lord. It's turned into a Model UN speech. High school Model UN, not college.
5:13PM "Nation-building here at home."
Seriously, at my model UN, he'd have been laughed off the stage, and we were stupid earnest back then.
5:14PM "This officer, like so many others I've met... "
I suppose this is nice, but the story, like the speech, lacks blood.
5:15PM "Let us go about the work of extending America."
5:16PM Wolf Blitzer called it "short but upbeat."
If that's upbeat, MacBeth is a light comedy.
5:16PM 16 minutes, 0 inspiration.
And that's all I have to say about that.