President Barack Obama and the White House are gearing up to discuss the end of combat operations in Iraq tomorrow night during a primetime Oval Office address, Obama’s second. Monday Obama presented 11 Purple Hearts at Walter Reed Naval Hospital, and Vice President Joe Biden has flown to Iraq. Obama even intends to call his predecessor, George W. Bush, to discuss the end of combat operations for the war that began under Bush.
Just because the cameras have yet to roll doesn’t mean the internet is alight with commentators arguing about what Obama should or should not say. A sampling:
Bruce Ackerman and Oona Hathaway in The Huffington Post:
With Americans formally retiring from their combat role in Iraq, we should be revisiting constitutional fundamentals. From the days of John Marshall, the Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed Congress’ authority to define the scope of limited wars. Unless Obama begins to demonstrate his fidelity to this principle, he will be setting a terrible precedent for future presidents.
Abby Phillip at POLITICO:
The still-unsettled Iraqi state also complicates matters for Obama; while avoiding Bush’s famous “mission accomplished” declaration, the president must nevertheless signal a satisfactory conclusion to the second-longest war in American history. The White House has said Obama, speaking on prime-time TV for just the second time, will hit the same themes as in his weekly address last Saturday, thanking the troops and reiterating that “as a candidate for this office, I pledged I would end this war; as president, that’s what I’m doing.”
William Kristol in The Weekly Standard:
When you speak tomorrow, you might also do what you neglected to do Saturday: You might praise General Ray Odierno, who, with General David Petraeus, turned the war in Iraq around in an amazing feat of generalship, and then did a terrific job of managing, under your direction, a delicate drawdown and transfer of responsibility to our Iraqi partners. … And I hope you would also explain that, whatever one’s views of the decision to go to war, we now have a moral obligation and strategic opportunity to help a free and democratic Iraq succeed. This means emphasizing that we expect to work closely with Iraq in the future, and that we are open to stationing troops there. It means not repeating the vulgar and counter-productive emphasis in your Saturday address—”But the bottom line is this: the war is ending. Like any sovereign, independent nation, Iraq is free to chart its own course. And by the end of next year, all our troops will be home.”
Julie Kirtz at Fox News:
White House officials say in President Obama’s Oval Office address he will talk about the way forward in a country once ruled by a dictator and highlight milestones that many doubted would ever be reached. … Seven years after President Bush said no outcome but victory would be accepted in Iraq, President Obama will say America and its allies have succeeded. Will the country rally around him as it did in 2003?
Michael Muskal in the Los Angeles Times:
The president will try to avoid the mistake made by former President Bush, who triumphantly claimed the military mission was accomplished in 2003, only to spend the rest of his time in office fighting a deadly war against Iraqi insurgents.
A.B. Stoddard in The Hill:
President Obama’s idea to call President George W. Bush on Tuesday before he speaks from the Oval Office about the end of combat operations in Iraq is a good one. And Obama has rightly concluded that the words “mission accomplished” won’t be appropriate for tomorrow night’s address. In what will be his second Oval Office address, Obama will thank our men and women in uniform — and their families — for their service and sacrifice in that more than seven-year-old war and acknowledge the challenges that remain.
Deborah White at About.com:
Americans long ago gave up believing President Bush regarding the Iraq War, and frankly, trusting President Obama to carry out promises made in his many uplifting speeches is getting to be a stretch, too, even for progressive Democrats. Americans are no longer naive about U.S. misadventures in Iraq. We’ll believe genuine withdrawal when we actually see it… not when a President proclaims “Mission Accomplished” or makes pretty pronouncements from the Oval Office.
Jill Lawrence in Politics Daily:
Here are the top two words I want to hear President Obama say in his Oval Office speech about Iraq: Never again. … I want to hear about first principles from him – principles that determine when we go to war. I want to hear about fact-based decision-making – why we go to war. I want to hear about smart planning and contingency planning and choosing competent people to lead us into, and out of, potential quagmires. In short, I want to know I can once again trust my government.
Aaron Gee in American Thinker (thereby making the grammatical errors even funnier):
Almost every American wants our troops to come home victorious, and President Obama will capitalize on that sentiment tomorrow night. It’s worth reminding folks that Obama was one of those Americans who wanted to bring troops home regardless of victory. No amount of kind words and clever phrases will change that fact. When one examines the mess our economy is in, or the stubborn refusal to acknowledge that the surge worked, you realize that President Obama hasn’t been right very often. While President Obama may not have been right very often, but he was clever at convincing people that he was something he wasn’t (a moderate healer). Look for that type of cleverness in this speech.
Peter Feaver in Foreign Policy:
To my ears at least, he did not do well in the preliminary quiz, this week’s radio address, which focused on Iraq. He repeated the gimmicks, fudged on the mission going forward, had nothing to say about the challenges that lay before us, pretended no national security interests were at stake in Iraq, and came dangerously close to reducing current and former military personnel to a government benefits enterprise. Only a stray phrase noting in passing that the troops fought “for the defense of our freedom and security” hinted at the important matters left unaddressed. Perhaps he will address them in the big speech.
Sarah Palin on Twitter:
Tues:Obama Iraq speech;poor leadership if this fierce opponent of the surge can’t give credit where credit’s due.Credit due GW,McCain,troops