Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Tuesday, May 25, 2004  

The press's verdict on Bush's speech is mixed--which is actually the best he could have hoped for.

New York Times
It's regrettable that this president is never going to admit any shortcomings, much less failure. That's an aspect of Mr. Bush's character that we have to live with. But we cannot live without a serious plan for doing more than just getting through the June 30 transition and then muddling along until the November elections in the United States. Mr. Bush has yet to come up with a realistic way to internationalize the military operation and to get Iraq's political groups beyond their current game of jockeying for power and into a real process of drafting a workable constitution.

New Republic
Listening to the critical responses to the speech one was struck by their deep, empty pessimism. The president's critics have no counter proposals, no suggestions for improving the situation in Iraq, only hypothetical disaster scenarios and relentless negativity. They seem to delight in subtly (and sometimes not so) mocking the president's idealism, offering instead their own fashionable cynicism, the sophisticated lethargy of those who claim to be the successors to the New Frontier. But one could see from President Bush's spirited delivery that he believes what he says. It may be considered unsophisticated to engage in hopefulness, but it helps us maintain our focus and pursue the strategic objectives of the war. The president's stance is not false optimism or focus-group-produced triangulation delivered with a smirk — it is honest, and those who oppose the president's policies should, if they were up to it, at least give him credit for his beliefs.

Los Angeles Times
Bush said Monday, "We did not seek this war on terror, but this is the world as we find it." Had Chalabi's bogus evidence not been sought quite so hard, had he been taken as found, he might have been seen as the poseur and con artist that he is now accused of being. The war, however, cannot be undone.

Washington Post
Each of those steps is daunting, but another challenge was implicit in the president's appearance last night and in White House plans for a series of such addresses: Mr. Bush must convince an increasingly skeptical American public and Congress that the goals are achievable and the sacrifices worth making. Last night's speech was, at least, a beginning and a commendable show of determination; but it's not clear that the president's rhetoric, or the steps he is planning, are vigorous enough to turn the situation around.

Dallas Morning News
In those senses, President Bush's strategy for pacifying and democratizing Iraq is little different from the one that existed before he addressed the country last night from the U.S. Army War College. Nonetheless, no one can deny that Mr. Bush has a plan, albeit one founded on heavy doses of hope and wishful thinking. Neither can anyone say that he didn't articulate the plan well. It was a forceful, appropriately serious speech, and he provided a clear and detailed outline for what he expects to happen, and when.

Chicago Tribune
Bush's speech no doubt surprised some in a global television audience more accustomed to leaders who grasp for power rather than set schedules for giving it away. His resolve to surrender governance of the country, train its security forces and rebuild its infrastructure should, in time, reduce Iraqi anger and frustration over foreign occupation. The building blocks of progress he outlined--in education, government, commerce and exercise of personal freedom--could, if they flourish, ease the hate-filled toxicity of that often impoverished region. "Beyond the violence," Bush said, acknowledging but not bowing to the obvious, "a civil society is emerging." That's what some in the neighborhood fear.

posted by Jeff | 9:19 AM |
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