Home > Uncategorized > Comparison of Bush and Obama Speeches on Their Respective Surges.

Comparison of Bush and Obama Speeches on Their Respective Surges.

I took the opportunity to post Obama’s speech on the Afghan surge and Bush speech on the Iraq surge. Please read both and decide which is more thoughtful and sincere. Let me give you a hint: the one that is the most sincere is the one that is given by the President that uses the least first-person pronouns.

Bigger hint: Bush used “I” eight times and “me” five times. Obama used “I” 45 times and “me” six times.

Here’s another stat for you: the number of times each President used the pronoun “we”. Bush used “we” 49 times; Obama used the word 107 times. That to me signifies that while both men were deferential, Obama relies too much on the notions of others rather than confidence in America and his own leadership.

These are going to be some rough days ahead.

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  1. December 2, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Obama’s too self-centered, and he listens to others too much, too.

    Most people recall that “consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.” But the original version is that a “foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.”

    You’re consistently opposed to Obama, but that’s about the only consistency I see. If he shows concern and caring, he’s too inwardly focused; if he seeks advice from others, he’s too outwardly focused — and all on the same issue!

    • December 3, 2009 at 2:05 am

      First of all, Ed, thank you for posting at my blog.

      Second, if there is any confusion from Obama speech, it wasn’t because of my analysis that I did of it. He’s the one who sowed the seeds of doubt from his speech. For starters, the end result of his advice seeking was what everyone knew all along: that he would not give McChrystal all of the soldiers he wanted and was more likely going to settle on the 30,000 that he gave in his speech. In that aspect, he was too deferential to the advice of others (or maybe it was because he was too deferential to his base).

      As far as showing concern and caring, that wasn’t present in this speech. He may have said things that satisfied you personally, but he didn’t say anything that satisfied the people who mattered the most: the troops who are going to be fighting in Afghanistan, the Afghans who will have to live with whatever result occurs after we leave, and the American people who are expected to continue to sacrifice for something they hardly understand. Look at the poll that I posted above and you see that the one issue that Americans have the least confidence in Obama is on the war in Afghanistan. Perhaps this lack of confidence arises because Obama himself has no confidence in the military or has any resolve to fight the war in Afghanistan. If this is the case, why hedge your bets by giving both sides what they perceive they want: more soldiers for the Right and a timeframe for the Left? This is not a way to conduct a war and even Slate agrees:

      Obama’s tone was methodical and emotionless. He often sounded like a reluctant warrior. He told the West Point students about signing condolence letters and greeting coffins arriving at Dover. “As your commander in chief, I owe you a mission that is clearly defined, and worthy of your service,” said Obama. There were repeated references in the speech to the honor of their service.

      The president said twice that he didn’t take his decision “lightly.” This seemed like an obvious shot at Dick Cheney and other critics who had complained that he had taken too long to make his final decision. (On the day of the speech, the former vice president claimed that Obama had shown “weakness.”) Obama also spent considerable time reminding his audience about the troubled history of the Afghan war since the attacks of 9/11, implying that if Bush and Cheney had taken a little more time during the first seven years of the war, there would be no need for him to be giving the speech — or sending more troops into danger.

      Believe me, when the President succeeds, I will give him kudos. Let me do that now: he begrudgingly gave McChrystal what 3/4 of what he wanted (whether that impacts the outcome of the war time will tell). However, me being a partisan, I wish he would’ve told you Progressives to go bug off as this is something we don’t go halfway on. Fighting a war with moderation or on the cheap is a surefire way to rack up American deaths. I would’ve thought that the last eight years would’ve taught us that.

      Once again, thanks for posting here. I hope to hear more from you.

  2. December 2, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    Never analyze anything ever again.

  3. December 3, 2009 at 5:15 am

    Second, if there is any confusion from Obama speech, it wasn’t because of my analysis that I did of it. He’s the one who sowed the seeds of doubt from his speech. For starters, the end result of his advice seeking was what everyone knew all along: that he would not give McChrystal all of the soldiers he wanted and was more likely going to settle on the 30,000 that he gave in his speech. In that aspect, he was too deferential to the advice of others (or maybe it was because he was too deferential to his base).

    Our ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, recommended much less. But what would he know — he’s only a Lt. General with four years’ combat in Afghanistan, you know?

    Why shouldn’t Obama pay attention to people with military experience in the area? In an ideal world, the president would spread a very wide net to get the very best information, and spend a good, careful time evaluating it. That’s what he did.

    Do you disagree with the final number? Make the case for a different number — but don’t pretend that Obama didn’t make careful consideration, with advice from the experts. Don’t tell us he got biased information when the fact is he got as much information from all quarters as he could get.

    There is no magic formula. You may think we’ve been here before — President Diem in Vietnam, maybe — but we haven’t been. Afghanistan in the past couple hundred years crushed the British once, and defeated the British a second time; with timely assistance from Charlie Wilson and the U.S., they defeated the Soviet Union after bankrupting the nation, bringing an end to Soviet communism. They frustrated Alexander the Great. They have withstood assaults from Mongol empires, Persian empires, Indian empires, Chinese empires.

    So, anyone going has to understand the deck is stacked against “winning” in Afghanistan.

    And on the other hand, we can’t afford to let it fall to the Taliban again.

    So, what’s your magic solution that guarantees victory at no cost, tomorrow? How can you do better than Obama? Let us know exactly how your plan is superior to his.

    • December 4, 2009 at 3:47 am

      Well, Ed, I’m going to post some articles. These articles will articulate exactly what I am thinking on this entire issue. However, let me address one point. You say this:

      “Our ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, recommended much less. But what would he know — he’s only a Lt. General with four years’ combat in Afghanistan, you know?”

      Yes, Karl Eikenberry suggested less, but McChrystal suggested more. McChrystal is in charge of fighting, Eikenberry is a diplomat (and one who is failing miserably at that). I’d trust the guy who is doing the fighting over the guy who is doing the talking. Also, others such as Generals Petraeus and Jack Keane were supportive of the 40,000 (and let’s remember that McChrystal originally asked for 60,000 to 80,000).

      Finally, there is the process itself. Read especially Max Boot and Eliot Cohen’s analysis. Needless to say, the latter makes a strong case as to why there is no justification for the 30,000 other than Obama was considering other factors that had nothing to do with the war itself and more to do with domestic politics.

      By the way, I’m no general and neither is Obama. If your General says this is the number he believes he needs, you better present a damned good case as to why he is wrong. Obama didn’t so now we are stuck with what he have: a mish-mash of policy where neither side is happy.

      To govern is to choose. Obama is intent on not choosing.

  4. December 4, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Yes, Karl Eikenberry suggested less, but McChrystal suggested more. McChrystal is in charge of fighting, Eikenberry is a diplomat (and one who is failing miserably at that). I’d trust the guy who is doing the fighting over the guy who is doing the talking. Also, others such as Generals Petraeus and Jack Keane were supportive of the 40,000 (and let’s remember that McChrystal originally asked for 60,000 to 80,000).

    Eikenberry has four years experience in Afghanistan, up to last year. Successful experience under his command, which was neglected by Bush. McChrystal’s got less experience. Why do you choose less experience over more experience?

    But that’s rather beside the point. You claimed Obama wasn’t listening to all sides. Here is the clear evidence he sought out two widely divergent opinions from people deeply experienced in the current Afghanistan situation. Don’t claim Obama’s not casting a wide net by whining that the net is cast so far you can’t see it.

    To govern is to choose. Obama is intent on not choosing.

    Maybe you missed the news.

    • December 4, 2009 at 2:34 pm

      Eikenberry has four years experience in Afghanistan, up to last year. Successful experience under his command, which was neglected by Bush. McChrystal’s got less experience. Why do you choose less experience over more experience?

      Because Eikenberry’s a diplomat and McChrystal is the commander on the ground? Seems clear cut to me. Also, McChrystal has plenty of terrorism experience from Iraq, you know, that “bad war” that you guys thought was going to go to hell?

      And to say that Obama sought divergent views is about as laughable as the stimulus created jobs. There was only one number that presented with hard data: the original 40,000 sought by McChrystal. If Obama sought divergent views, it was the polls and the number of pundits who commented on his decision making as information about his process was being leaked to the press.

      As far as your link, well, it wouldn’t make too much sense to “surge” troops into the safe areas, now does it? But no choice has been made: what good is it to surge into the safe areas and then immediately pull the surge troops out in 2011? If things turn around in a year that would be a miracle.

      By the way, Ed, you’ve done a good job (so far) as a liberal who doesn’t result to ad hominems to advance their argument. Please don’t start slipping (I’m referring to the post you put under my blog post on Climategate).

  5. December 5, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    Because Eikenberry’s a diplomat and McChrystal is the commander on the ground? Seems clear cut to me.

    Eikenberry’s got four years in Afghanistan, McChrystal has two if we allow some of his Kuwait time to count as Afghanistan. I was talking pure, military experience. Eikenberry has double the military time on the ground in Afghanistan as McChrystal, four years to two.

    Seems clear cut to me, too. Obama’s got experts on both sides, good ones, people with good on-the-ground experience — and you’re hell-bent to denigrate anyone you think doesn’t support your case.

    Here’s your biggest problem with this line of reasoning right now: McChrystal and Eikenberry both advise Obama. If you’re going to denigrate Obama’s advisers, you have to dismiss everyone.

    • December 6, 2009 at 12:48 am

      Okay, you ask a soldier who is fighting on the ground who they would listen to first: a diplomat (which Eikenberry is one now) or a commander who is responsible for the prosecution of the war (of which McChrystal is now). There was no thorough analysis for Eikenberry’s number and if there was, I would sure like to see it. McChrystal’s reasoning was made public and Obama chose McChrystal to replace McKiernan, who was quickly becoming overwhelmed in Afghanistan (something the Bush Administration recognized before it left office).

      Also, I am not denigrating Obama’s decision to continue the war effort. I made that clear. However, I denigrating his decision making process, which neither he nor you have put forward a reasonable argument as to why he took 3 months to make a decision which could’ve been made a week after McChrystal made his original recommendation. If this is a “war of necessity” then Obama has a weird way of showing it by eating into the time frame that McChrystal stated he would need to help reverse the tide in Afghanistan. I’m also denigrating the fact that Obama decided to surge troops in and give them 18 months to do whatever it is they’re supposed to be doing. You have Obama supporters like Bob Schieffer and Chris Matthews who are wondering why give a hard timeline and you had Secretary Gates try to walk back that deadline during his Senate testimony. I also posted an article from the New York Times which shows that the Afghans and Pakistanis are worried about that. The decision Obama made could put us in a worse bind than what was necessary. He should have just pissed off his base and sent the required number of troops. If he’s afraid they were going to abandon him on healthcare, he needn’t worry about that: I don’t think you guys are going to become neocons anytime soon. 😛

  6. December 6, 2009 at 4:35 am

    However, I denigrating his decision making process, which neither he nor you have put forward a reasonable argument as to why he took 3 months to make a decision which could’ve been made a week after McChrystal made his original recommendation.

    That was the timetable before McChrystal’s report, and McChrystal didn’t ask for any speedup of the process — he asked for more troops starting early in 2010.

    Why are you trying to ding Obama for staying on schedule? Why didn’t you complain about the schedule three months ago? What makes the schedule bad now, but not then?

    • December 6, 2009 at 4:58 am

      I seem to recall that when McChrystal made a certain speech in London, the Left establishment began to attack, with Nancy Pelosi stating that he should follow the chain of command (which, in McChrystal’s case, is short since only Petraeus, Gates, and Obama are immediately before him). And no, that wasn’t the timetable before McChrystal’s report: when Obama came into office he implemented the recommendations of the Bush Administration by sending 21,000 troops to Afghanistan. In March, Obama gave a speech to the VFW here in Phoenix, AZ at which point he aptly described the war as a “war of necessity” and replaced Gen. George McKiernan with McChrystal. McChrystal promptly came out with his recommendation in August, of which Obama dithered until late November to implement. If this is a “war of necessity” then it makes no sense to wait until November to go ahead and implement your strategy from the man you appointed for the job.

      So, no, Obama did not stay on schedule. I didn’t complain about it three months ago here because I barely got into blogging not too long ago. But you can certainly do a search on Google (or better yet, go to the WSJ opinion boards) and you’ll find that I was critical of Obama during the entire process. As for what makes it bad, if you’re giving your men a short period of time to turn things around in Afghanistan, then time is of the essence. Starting the Afghan surge back in August surely is better than starting the Afghan surge in December. Indeed, Obama actually started in January with the original 21,000 troops he sent there, so why the difference between surging those troops that soon and then waiting almost 11 months later to surge the next set? It makes no sense.

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