Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Bush's Speech Decent, But Not What We Needed

President Bush took less than a minute before mentioning September 11th in his speech Tuesday night. That was a clear single that this administration was not prepared to change the message they’ve been hitting for the last few years. And, sure enough, nothing all that new came out of Bush’s speech.

That said, I thought the President gave a very strong argument as to why leaving Iraq now would be a horrible mistake. Of course, most Americans already support staying for now. The real question is, how are we going to win?

The best I can tell is that the President believes all we need is greater resolve. There was no hint that mistakes had been made. There wasn’t even a suggestion that new strategies would be tried. No one expected the President to make broad admissions of error or divulge specific strategies, but I think a lot of Americans would have liked to hear some more direct recognition that things hadn’t gone quite as planned and new courses will now be followed.

Few opinions are going to change because of this speech. While Bush made a very rational argument as to why we need to stay in Iraq, there was not much more than a passing effort to acknowledge and address the millions of Americans who are strongly against this war. Perhaps there is nothing Bush can say to calm the anger of those who oppose him. But I think he should have tried.

Instead, this speech was specifically tailored for those who supported the war but whose resolve has recently slipped. It was not designed to win converts, only to retain supporters. And, as such, I think it will do nothing to heal the bitter divisions over this war. Wednesday morning there will be brutal criticism from the left and resounding praise from the right. But we should expect to hear nothing new from no one new.

We needed more than just a strong argument for staying the course. We needed an earnest attempt to reach across the divide—even if those on the other side want no such offerings. Someone needs to try to bring us back together. Usually that task falls to our President. But that’s just not going to happen it seems.

Can any of the great voices on the left make the effort? Perhaps Senator Biden (D-DE) whose comments afterwards were exactly what liberals need—a firm resolve to win this war coupled with constructive critiques on what needs to change. If more on the left had Biden’s ability to be both committed to success and smart in dissent, perhaps we as a nation could pull closer together.

The President did a decent job in his speech. But we needed a lot more. And we need a lot more still.


At 12:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rep. Pelosi (definitely NOT one of my favorite people) got it exactly right tonight: at this point, no matter why or how we got into Iraq, we have to make it work. And unfortunately, Bush showed no sign that he can see more options than "my way, without change, or treason."

At 8:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The frightening thing about the renewed 9/11 linkage from the President is perhaps it is possible that Chuck Hagel was correct. While most of us simply dismiss it when the President makes this linkage, assuming he knows he's being disingenuous, what if he's not? What if he is actually that disconnected from reality?

If that fear is just ridiculous (as I hope it is) and he just feels like he has to remain consistent with lies already told, isn't that even more frightening? As the death toll mounts, the Commander-in-Chief believes message discipline is more important than success...

At 4:19 PM, Blogger Adm. Happy Horatio Hornhonker said...

Someone mentioned message discipline being more important than success?

To these folks -- you bet your sweet bippy it is. It's their entire future.

I found nothing new in the entire speech....

The whole thing is right out of Rove and Frank Luntz' playbooks.

Frank Luntz? I'm sure he's another genius that Alan here totally respects for the job he does -- even if it is pulling wool over the eyes of the sheep.

Now to the speech . . .

When in Doubt, Roll 9/11 Out

: : "The war reached our shores on September 11, 2001."

: : "After September the 11th, I made a commitment to the
: : American people: This nation will not wait to be attacked
: : again."

9/11, The Perfect Distraction

: : "They are trying to shake our will in Iraq, just as they tried
: : to shake our will on September 11, 2001. They will fail."

Keep the Charade going, It Works

: : "After September 11, 2001, I told the American people that
: : the road ahead would be difficult and that we would prevail.
: : Well, it has been difficult and we are prevailing."

: : "The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget
: : the lessons of September the 11th, if we abandon the Iraqi
: : people to men like Zarqawi and if we yield the future of the
: : Middle East to men like bin Laden."

I personally wish to know who the real enemies of my liberty are right here at home . . .

Now what does this have to do with Frank Luntz?

Read this twice....

: : “Much of the public anger can be immediately pacified
: : : if they are reminded that we would not be in this situation
: : : today if 9/11 had not happened.”
Frank Luntz

Who the heck is Frank Luntz? Well for those of you 'round these parts who haven't heard of him -- He's the highly influential conservative strategist who has produced a 160-page playbook to advance the right-wing agenda.

He's the genius linguist and premier language consultant to the Republicans and man behind such favorite gems as:

: : "The Contract with America"

: : "Partial Birth Abortion"

: : "The Marriage Tax"

: : "The Death Tax"

And the author of:

: : "Communicating the Principles of Prevention &
: : : Protection in the War on Terror"

Hey -- there's a real mouthful. Orwell would be proud of this guy.

Not to mention a wee bit leery ....

Admirably yours,

Jonah D. Wail

yo-Ho Yo-HO a Sailor's Life for Me

At 4:23 PM, Blogger AubreyJ said...

After his speech Tuesday night, it was predictable that the critics would be saying he didn’t say anything new and it was just as predicable that all his supporters, (like me) were saying he stayed on message. We are so set in our ways...........

At 4:32 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Admiral, my good man, I hope you are just ribbing me by saying I would respect Luntz. While I may often be impressed by the job done by message strategists--I am impressed only in a "how did that magician do that" kinda way. But I don't have a great deal of respect for the men and women who invent these strategies. One of the drums I like to beat around these parts is how marketing techniques debase politics. Luntz is a Fortune 500 consultant and seems to think that what works for GM should work for G. Bush. He's part of a cadre of consultants on both sides who think changing the language (not the ideas) is the way to success. Too often that works. And that's ashame. Reframing language is nothing but propaganda and while I can't claim to have never fallen for it, I can claim to be against it in all its little forms.

At 4:35 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...


He didn't say anything new to those who've been paying attention. For those who hadn't been paying attention, they probably did hear something new. I will admit that it's incredibly hard for us political bloggers to asses these things. Bush wasn't addressing those who've made up their minds.

At 7:10 PM, Blogger Adm. Happy Horatio Hornhonker said...


Let's just say it was my technique of smoking out your feelings regarding these techniques.

Here Alan. Allow me to rephrase my original . . .

: I'm sure he's another genius that Alan here
: [add]is[/add] [strike]totally respects[/strike]
: [add]impressed[/add] of the job he does
: -- even if it is pulling wool over the eyes of the sheep.

I hope you find that more to your liking. And please -- it should go without saying, I am impressed and satisfied that a man of your character recognizes the importance of how these marketing technique gurus debase politics. Of course I believe that marketing techniques debase about everything -- especially women.

Sorry that I caused you to spend a little of your overtaxed time answering my charge.

You're top-notch in my book . . .

Admirably yours,

Jonah D. Wail

At 7:44 PM, Blogger Laniker said...

Alan hit it right on the head:

Luntz is a Fortune 500 consultant and seems to think that what works for GM should work for G. Bush. He's part of a cadre of consultants on both sides who think changing the language (not the ideas) is the way to success.

Language works great for selling a product. But if GM cars end up breaking down and costing owners tons of money, it isn't a national emergency because there are other cars to buy. We're in with GW for 4 years. Even when that ends, there are really only two "companies" to choose from. What we need are less businessmen and more public servants that will hold themselves accountable to deliver quality, not pretty words.

At 8:23 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...


Ain't no bother. Always have time to respond to intelligent commenters.

At 9:05 PM, Anonymous Jennifer said...


I understand that critics will say there is nothing new while supporters will say he stayed on message. But the problem is that his message is rooted in falsehoods. I don't understand why staying on message is a good thing in this case.

At 2:28 AM, Blogger AubreyJ said...

No falsehoods there Jennifer. None… Listen to what the President is saying. Not to what others say he just said… That’s where I find all the falsehoods to come from. Not from the Presidents lips.

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