When I woke up this morning, I was hoping to hear that President Obama really didn't say he was going to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. That it had just been a bad dream. Or that an old war speech of George W. Bush was somehow put on Obama's teleprompter by mistake. The Nobel Peace Prize committee was probably hoping the same thing.
Obama's address at West Point was the most compelling speech that I have ever disagreed with. It was like a brilliant summation by a trial lawyer defending a hopelessly guilty client. For a minute, I wanted to believe he was right, but then I came to my senses.
Even though it was well delivered, the speech didn't really sound like the Obama I voted for. It almost sounded like one of those forced propaganda videos that hostages have to deliver.
I agree with those who say the speech should have been given from the Oval Office. The only crowd noise you can expect there is if the cameraman sneezes. It's hard to sound upbeat as you're facing into a sea of grey uniforms. Military audiences are usually great(as comedians who have performed for them can attest to),but the cadets had been in their seats for four hours before the speech began. And they had probably been up since 5 am. And they were being told they were going to Afghanistan. Not a happy combination. No wonder there were only four applause breaks. I wonder whether the standing ovation at the end was because of what Obama said, or because they were just happy to get the chance to stand up.
President Obama deserves much credit for finally putting the focus on Afghanistan, after seven years of being virtually ignored by the Bush Administration. Had Bush and Cheney not diverted all their attention and most of our resources to the disastrously unnecessary war in Iraq, the situation in Afghanistan would probably be under control today. A fact that the eternally delusional Dick Cheney refuses to accept. Instead of ever admitting to any mistakes, he prefers to verbally attack Obama for being weak because he bowed to the Japanese leader. He bowed because that's the polite, culturally acceptable thing to do. Of course, a man like Cheney isn't interested in respecting other cultures, he just likes invading them.
Although I'm against this troop surge, I'm proud that President Obama has made great strides in trying to engage the countries of the world through diplomacy. And I hope that there is a diplomatic surge in Afghanistan that goes hand in hand with the military one.
And so to all of my conservative friends who thought that I would support the troop surge from Obama that I didn't support from Bush, there you have it. I think the President is wrong on this one. But I am still thrilled that he is our President.
It's like the way you feel when a good friend lets you down. It hurts, you're disappointed, but you still stay friends. Because in friendship and in politics, we need to hold on to the things that bring us together, not pull us apart.