But only a start. Too often in the past, this administration hasn’t understood the importance of repeating a message, elaborating on a message, working a message until it burns its way into the public’s mind and imagination.
Yes, it was reassuring to see the President appearing confident, articulating a plan, going into detail about who, what, when and where. But now he — and those who claim they work for him — need to drive the ideas he only sketched out tonight.
Also, and perhaps because the President needed to seem in command of the facts, the speech came off as rather wonkish. Hawkish national security conservatives don’t need to be sold yet again on the necessity of this war. But those who will never understand such strategic arguments need to hear the human rights case for this difficult and costly project.
Maybe Kofi Annan and Michael Moore think the Ba’athists in Fallujah and that butcher Zarqawi are the equivalent of the Minutemen and the French Resistance, but most Americans understand in their guts that it would be a disaster were we to abandon Iraq to such barbarians.
Commenting on the speech tonight, Joe Lieberman said: “If we don’t lose our will, someday we’ll look back on what we’ve done in Iraq with pride.” That’s more the tone I’d hope to hear from the President in the days ahead. Bush and his speech writers need to think Churchill and Kennedy (John, not Ted) if the President is to successfully rouse the nation to fight and win this difficult war against these ruthless, fantatical and determined enemies.