Bush took some time off from his record-breaking vacation to give a "major address" intended to shore up support for the Iraq War, which is going badly and causing even conservatives to question.
So Bush gave the speech, and it was the same thing as always. A friendly audience of war veterans, and so on. And the speech itself? A lot of patriotic jargon and references to 9/11, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.
The only thing novel was this:
Bush made a rare reference of the U.S. military death toll — more than 2,000 killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
"We owe them something. We will finish the task that they gave their lives for … by staying on the offensive against the terrorists, and building strong allies in Afghanistan and Iraq that will help us win and fight — fight and win the war on terror," he told the VFW convention.
You gotta love that logic: we should continue to allow our soldiers to die, so that those who have already died will not have died in vain.
Mr. President, does the phrase "throwing good money after bad" mean anything to you?
I sometimes feel bad for the right wing these days. They have to defend a war policy that is (a) losing; and (b) wholly indefensible in the first place. They’ve simply have run out of talking points that they can say without embarrassment.
So you can understand why they looked to Bush to bail them out, and give them the message to spread.
Bush, sadly, did not rise to the occasion, and conservatives seem a little, well, annoyed. Like this guy at Redstate:
Former Presidential Speechwriter, David Frum, has some thoughtful words on President Bush’s current promotion of the war effort. I am reminded of a diary we promoted the other day, which argued that Bush supporters are tired of defending the President when the President himself does not defend his administration. Frum writes
Again, supporters of the war can do our bit to try to change minds. But the biggest megaphone in the country belongs to President Bush – and much depends on whether he uses it well or badly.
He is using it very badly indeed.
Let me single out just one single but maybe decisive problem. Again and again during the Bush presidency – and yesterday most recently – the president will agree to give what is advertised in advance as a major speech. An important venue will be chose. A crowd of thousands will be gathered. The networks will all be invited. And after these elaborate preparations, the president says … nothing that he has not said a hundred times before.
If a president continues to do that, he is himself teaching the public and the media to ignore him – especially when the words seem (as his speech yesterday to the VFW seemed) utterly to ignore the past three months of real-world events.
It’s almost as if conservatives can’t understand why the lame horse they backed isn’t leading the pack as it comes around the back turn.
But the problem isn’t Bush’s speech about the war — it’s the war itself. I imagine Bush’s speechwriters, sensing the growing public dissatisfaction with the war, huddled around to come with a new game plan. A new rationale, if you will, to inspire people to the pro-war side.
But they had none. So they pulled out the tried-and-true playbook. Appeal to patriotism and fear. Oh, and 9/11. Always 9/11.