Two things Barack Obama won't say in his Oval Office Iraq war speech
Tonight, my fellow Americans, is Barack Obama's next war speech, his second address from the Oval Office and his third speech in as many days since he played all those golf and board games in the rain of Martha's Vineyard on his latest vacation.
After a quick no-doubt carbon-footprint-free trip to Texas earlier to be seen with some troops, the Democrat will mark the formal end of the American combat role in Iraq, which the former state senator has long opposed.
Today, many will try to guess what the president is going to say in primetime, which is what the White House prefers in order to heighten the drama, the audience and lasting impact to show the president is making progress on something beyond speechifying and his golf handicap.
The president is going to have to make a little news somehow in his remarks tonight or immediately thereafter, lest they come across as smug, self-satisfied and as void of substance as some early news conference talkfests and his first Oval Office remarks.
On Tuesday afternoon, the White House will release carefully-selected, out-of-context excerpts of the president's speech to give commentators something to chew on and try to shape the public's initial impressions in advance.
Speaking of speaking, House Republican Leader John Boehner, who wouldn't mind living up to new polls and replacing Nancy Pelosi as speaker come January, is also talking about war and national security. He'll address the American Legion in Milwaukee shortly after lunch, which isn't primetime. (UPDATE: Text of Boehner's remarks as delivered right here.)
Of course, both men must pay tribute to the men and women in uniform. Obama could perhaps name one or two of these fine people he just talked with in Texas as their commander-in-chief.
Obama will no doubt mention that, even as he speaks, VP Joe Biden is serving yet another short tour of duty in Baghdad, trying to work his Senate cloakroom charm behind-the-scenes on Iraq's disagreeable coalition partners who can't agree on fantasy football draft picks, let alone how to share their crucial country's political power.
We're going out on a limb here, but for once Harvard-grad Obama seems unlikely to blame his Yalie predecessor George W. Bush for the success of the controversial 2007 troop surge that produced the victory that no one can call a victory because it smacks of some administration Recovery Summer boast from April that turns into a large unfulfilled economic embarrassment by the last day of August.
Chances also seem pretty safe that Obama will not repeat his adamant 2007 opposition to Bush's troop surge and the Democrat's genuine suggestion that more U.S. troops in Iraq would actually exacerbate sectarian violence and worsen the war, not hasten its success. Even though Obama ended up liking the surge idea so much that he's already had two of his own thus far in Afghanistan.
So, just to assist readers and the absent-minded president, here is the MSNBC video of the Real Good Talker's famous anti-surge remarks on that subject.
Obama's first Oval Office address: There's a pipe spewing a gazillion gobs of oil into the gulf, so let's build more windmills
-- Andrew Malcolm
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Photo: Associated Press