Thursday, December 3, 2009

Flat Speech, Empty Suit

Forget the Afghan strategy and the half measure of troop allocation to the war, let's just focus on the content and delivery of his speech at West Point on Tuesday evening. It was strange. It was filled with his usual narcissistic overtones but there was an element of desperation that he is accustomed to never having to sink to. He was forced to try and act the statesman. This forced performance was no doubt due to to low job approval ratings.

It was a tough audience. The vast majority of the cadets have a natural aversion to every word out of his mouth and their unanimated faces showed what their disciplined actions and words can not. Despite his attempt at tough talk, they know his heart is simply not in it. He’s doing what is expedient. They know they are stuck in a leadership vacuum. He did not turn on the charisma, he knew they did not buy it. They have his number, by and large.

He was in enemy camp when he gave this speech and in true form he thought he could talk his way out of it, explain his way into making his detractors like him. He was on the defense the whole time and it was where many of "I's" in the speech came from. It was a "please understand where I am coming from" speech but the problem was those that disdain him understand him all too well. We've heard it all before and we've seen the results of his kind all too many times.

He never looked directly into the camera. Anger, bitterness and defeat marked his tired face. This commander in chief stuff is for real and you can not vote present forever. As with everything he does he was trying to give the appearance of having it both ways, all while keeping the agenda moving forward. Send troops but not the number needed. Send troops now but bring them home in time for elections in 2012.

He was out of his league Tuesday and his discomfort in the arena showed. It was not the shrinking crowd of the fawning worshippers. it was an audience of the strong, the courageous and the honorable. Young Americans willing to die, willing to fight for ideals and willing to face horrors most of us will never know. They don’t fear him. They don’t respect him. In a room full of such potentially real and really earned greatness, he could never shine. On some level, he knew this.

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