There’s a division on the right over Obama’s speech that breaks down roughly as–it was great for an Obama speech (the pro-camp), or it was an Obama speech (the anti-camp). We’re in the latter camp, as you can see in this morning’s editorial. But other people I respect disagree. My friend JPod goes so far as to label it basically a neo-con speech. But I’ve never known a neo-con to brag about how rapidly he’s drawn down U.S. troops in an ongoing conflict, unecessarily putting at risk hard-won gains on the ground. Make no mistake–this fundamentally was a turning the page speech, as the headline writers recognized (Wall Street Journal: “Obama Marks End of Iraq War to Focus on Economy”.) John notes the neo-conesque line that we will lead “among those who are willing to work together to expand freedom and opportunity for all people.” The very next line, though, was “That effort must begin within our own borders.” Obama went on to use the troops and their sacrifice as a reason that we should unite around his effort to spend us into the ground here at home. Unless you’re grading on a very sharp curve, this is shabby stuff. In Iraq, the most important questions going forward are what kind of government we get and whether we keep troops there beyond 2011. It’s hard to believe that Obama will actually turn the Iraqis away if they ask for a continued U.S. troop presence, but we do know, if last night is any guide, he’ll be conflicted and ambivalent about it.
by Rich Lowry