Bush's Speech: Why It Failed
The America people, as Lawrence Kaplan showed in a great piece in the New Republic 2 years ago, want victory in war. ("Willpower" New Republic, September 8 & 15, 2003.) Bush cannot deliver victory, however defined. So the poll numbers will drop. (I usually hesitate to make predictions. Historians can't agree on the past let alone predict the future. But I am confident about this prediction.)
Bush's challenge was to lift people's spirits at the same time as he answered the criticism of Democrats that he and Dick "last throes" Cheney are out of touch with events. Not even Demosthenes could have delivered a speech that addressed both concerns. They are mutually exclusive. If you recognize the ominous course events have taken it is impossible to provide hope. If you downplay the mayhem on the streets in order to provide hope people would conclude that you are out of touch.
Hence, this speech was a failure. It only helped in showing that Bush is not out of touch, which is not an achievement of which too many presidents would want to crow.
The use of 9-11 imagery to draw support for the war in Iraq was clumsy--and misguided. The well of fear he can draw on has gone dry. And in any case, more and more Americans now see clearly the difference between the wars waged in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the course of the speech President Bush engaged in the gross rewriting of history. He said that he had warned the nation after 9-11 that the war would be long and hard. But this war was not supposed to be long and hard. Paul Wolfowitz predicted it would be short as did Secretary Rumsfeld. Cheney said our soldiers would be greeted as liberators. To forget this history is to engage in the worst form of revisionism.
comments powered by Disqus
Stephen Francis Kislock III - 7/30/2005
Mr. Bill Heuister,
The September 21, 2001 speech the Shepard gave was one on the "War on Terror", not on on the Iraqi People.
"Iraqi Freedom", has been deadly on the Iraqi People, more so than Saddam, the Depleted Uranium, will stay for Hundred of Years.
Mr. Heuister, have you heard of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida, the Shepard was refering to Him and Them, Not Saddam, remember?
The Under secretary for Defense, said it would be Rose Petals,that would be thrown at the Conquers, Right?
Where did the IED's come from?
Was America founded, by the Citizens, who were feed up with their Lands, being Occuppied by Great Britian?
Please answer me this one Question, "Why does Osama bin Laden,live?
The Right, has no leg to stand on, the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq is Illegal.........
Mr. Heuister, feeds at the trough, of misinformation.
Stephen F. Kislock III
Bill Heuisler - 7/14/2005
You are simply wrong. Deliberately, or accidently?
September 21, 2001 President Bush gave a speech before a joint session of Congress - look it up on the CNN site.
The pertinent lines are:
"Now, this war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.
Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes visible on TV and covert operations secret even in success.
We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place until there is no refuge or no rest.
And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.
From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime."
Rick, you wrote, "But this war was not supposed to be long and hard". Really? Read the damned speech he gave just ten days after 9/11.
...a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen." sounds like a warning of a long war.
Did you forget or are you just trying for Lefty political points? This is a history site, isn't it?
Jonathan Dresner - 7/3/2005
My mood would be lifted by a display of imagination and competency. I don't even have to agree, as long as I can be convinced that they have a clue and a plan.
"Be Nice To Soldiers Day" is just a sloppy, maudlin, attempt at redirection.
- New Churchill Museum director shares vision
- Judith Kelleher Schafer, 72, a historian of slavery and prostitution, dies
- Northwestern celebrates Garry Wills with a book in his honor
- Conservatives go after UCLA's historian James Gelvin
- Laura Hillenbrand writes her masterpieces despite suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome