I thought he did a good job last night. Implicit or explicit messages conveyed:
- The Iraq War was a stupid idea, I always said so, and I've managed to stem most of the bleeding (physically and fiscally) by withdrawing most of the troops.
- Once we went into Iraq, though, we became committed to spending enough blood and treasure to achieve some sort of long-term stability - which is why there are 50,000 troops still there, why "advisors" will stay long after the remaining troops come home next year, and incidentally another reason why getting into stupid wars is a bad idea. As badly as the war damaged our credibility around the world, the only way to make it worse would be to appear to walk out on the Iraqis before they can effectively govern themselves again.
- I called George W. Bush to tell him I had cleaned up his mess. He has his heart in the right place, I guess, but he's one dumb motherfucker, isn't he? It's good to have someone who thinks before he acts in the Oval Office, isn't it? Imagine what would be happening if the Maverick were sitting in this chair instead of me.
- The Iraqis have to stand up and take responsibility for their security now. This is one of the many ways W. was dumb: He let himself fall into the Vietnam trap of effectively putting the entire burden on U.S. forces and allowing the locals to jockey for power and line their pockets.
- I'm not as dumb as W., so I am not going to let the Afghan government continue to behave like a bunch of juvenile kleptocrats forever. I committed to "winning" the war against Al Qaeda there during the campaign, so politically I am obligated to keep troops running around chasing the few remaining bad guys. The lefties and paleoconservatives who want us out of both Iraq and Afghanistan by yesterday should grow up. But here's a loud, unambiguous message to Karzai and those who would replace him: You better get your shit together.
- Thousands of our troops were killed and the tens of thousands injured, and 1.5 million served in Iraq who might suffer from PTSD and have other problems. It's immoral that W. played with their lives so frivolously and I will not compound his fecklessness by letting them suffer needlessly now most of the fighting is done. As a country, we owe them a huge debt we will pay in medical care and a modern G.I. bill.
- The troops' suffering and the financial cost of the war are more excellent reasons why we shouldn't get into stupid wars of choice. We really could have used that money here at home. Now we've freed up a few resources, I can make noises about focusing all my efforts on the economy. Whether I know what to do about it or not, and whether people like Larry Summers have their heads up their asses or not, I have to convince the mass of voters that we are doing something to get them jobs. The Democrats in Congress better get their shit together and help with this, or else we're all getting our asses kicked in November.
- There's this insane idea running around that I'm a foreign-born Muslim. So I'm going to give this speech from the Oval Office with a flag lapel pin on, and say corny things to make myself look and sound as American as possible. Our troops are heroes, just like my white grandfather who fought in World War II, just like the men who fought in every other American war, all heroes! America is the leader of the free world. Our troops are the steel in the ship of state. They are guiding us through the night with the light from above. God bless us, every one! Goodnight, and I am not a Muslim.