How The Center is Reacting to Bush's Speech
As we have written, President Bush’s speech last night probably won’t change any opinions. As expected, the left is calling it useless and the right is calling it wonderful. But what are those in the center saying?
The line between those who support this war and those who don’t runs right through the heart of the Centrist movement. Were any opinions changed here?
Centrist Republican Jeremy Dibbell says at Charging RINO:
Well, nothing much new, not much different, not much straight talk. In all, a disappointment. The continued linkages between 9/11 and Iraq are really pretty brazen, and we heard nothing concrete about fighting the insurgency. Of course well all support the troops…I’d also support some real honesty from this president.
The slightly left-of-center Bull Moose had this to say:
The President again restated the tie between the overall war against terror and Iraq. Whatever one thought about the link before the intervention, it is certainly true now. That is why we must prevail in Iraq regardless of the validity of the original claim. With all of his errors, mendacity and demagoguery, the President has led us to the point to where there is no turning back. His domestic political opponents are placed in a position where they must hope for his and our nation’s success. Defeat would come at an unacceptable price for our country and result in a precious victory for the terrorist foe.
Moderate conservative Dean Esmay says:
The question is whether it helps the troops, and the war effort.
Yes, it does both. No, it says nothing he hasn't said before, except for the bit about encouraging young people to enlist and to be proud of that choice if they make it. But nothing new NEEDED to be said: we are committed, this is a just and moral cause, and the price of failure would be horrific.
It was absolutely right to hold it on prime time, and a good time to do it. As many people as possible need to see it. Unlike most of those of us who are plugged into politics in the blogosophere, everyday Americans needed reassuring. Most of them got that.
The always thoughtful, middle-of-the-road Ambivablog says:
President Bush gave a good speech tonight. It was plainspoken and firmstanding, and he delivered it comfortably, without either bluster or ingratiation. And certainly without apology: some have wanted him to acknowledge at least some of the serious mistakes made in prosecuting the war in Iraq, and even to hold someone on high (Rummy?) accountable. No, this administration will never do that. They equate the admission of fallibility with weakness and unblinking denial with strength. It makes them seem more than a little unreal and unreachable -- all we ever see is a scripted, polished, minutely calculated performance -- but I don't know. Maybe it's good psychology. If you want a bracing declaration of resolve to stand firm coupled with a scathing critique of all the screw-ups to date, go listen to Presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Centrist Michael Reynolds of The Mighty Middle says:
If the job approval numbers don’t show at least a 5 point bounce, this presidency is effectively over. If he fails to rally the American people on Iraq, following on his failure to sell his Social Security plan, it will mean that people have tuned him out.
And last, but not least, Joe Gandelman of the incomparable Moderate Voice says:
When you read the full text of Bush's speech you note that it wasn't a bad speech. In fact, it may have been one of his more solid Iraq speeches in terms of making a case.
But it probably won't be enough to win over wavering members of the American public, swing voters, and even some Republicans who have been voicing doubts about the way the war is being conducted. The key reason: It contained NO NEW GROUND...no knock-out development...no overpowering point that was made that is likely to sway those totally opposed to the war or beginning to distance themselves due to growing doubts.
So the resounding conclusion from the center seems to be: there was not much there, there. Whether or not this works to shore up support remains to be seen. Over the next few days I’m sure we’ll get some sense on how Americans are reacting and whether Bush achieved his goal.