If it was a play it would have closed that night. President Obama’s speech gets panned: “President Obama has retrenched U.S. global engagement in a way that has shaken the confidence of many U.S. allies and encouraged some adversaries. That conclusion can be heard not just from Republican hawks but also from senior officials from Singapore to France and, more quietly, from some leading congressional Democrats. As he has so often in his political career, Mr. Obama has elected to respond to the critical consensus not by adjusting policy but rather by delivering a big speech.”
The cadets sat on their hands. “CNN’s international correspondent Jim Clancy called the West Point response to President Obama’s meandering foreign policy address ‘pretty icy’ Wednesday. Clancy said it was ‘not really a great speech to give at the U.S. Military Academy,’ and the address has drawn bipartisan criticism. ‘It was a philosophical speech,’ he said. ‘It was not a Commander-in-Chief speaking to his troops. And you heard the reception. I mean, it was pretty icy.'” Actually, that was his commander in chief speech, it’s just really bad.
Max Boot gives Obama thumbs down as well: “The president set up a conflict between ‘self-described realists’ who warn against ‘foreign entanglements that do not touch directly on our security or economic well-being’ and ‘interventionists on the left and right’ who claim ‘that America’s willingness to apply force around the world is the ultimate safeguard against chaos, and America’s failure to act in the face of Syrian brutality or Russian provocations not only violates our conscience, but invites escalating aggression in the future.’ Naturally Obama claimed that his policy is equidistant between these extremes: ‘It is absolutely true that in the 21st century, American isolationism is not an option. … But to say that we have an interest in pursuing peace and freedom beyond our borders is not to say that every problem has a military solution.’ Yet who says ‘that every problem has a military solution’? Obama is punching at a straw man, and he continued to do so throughout his address.” Many others picked up on the straw man stunt. Really, he does it in nearly every speech.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) blasted the part of the speech on Obama’s Iran policy. “President Obama told the cadets that we reserve all options to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Yet, Iran is now closer than ever to a nuclear weapons capability despite his red-line, and it is still making progress. The interim deal allows Iran to continue sophisticated research into uranium enrichment and to benefit from relaxed sanctions, while failing to require Iran to come clean on its past or present nuclear-weapons related activities. Far from accepting President Obama’s outreached hand, the Iranians have expanded their support for terrorism and instability in the region (see Iraq and Syria) and even planned a terrorist bombing on American soil. President Obama may be serious in saying all options are on the table, but the problem is neither Iran nor others in the region believe such a threat is credible.”
There was plenty to rip apart: “Mr. Obama pushed back against critics who assert that his approach undermines U.S. leadership around the world. Mr. Obama signaled that he was doubling down – not backing down — on a strategy that calls for limiting the use of U.S. force and for building up the capabilities of partner nations to police their own backyards. ” Yeah, it worked out so well already, huh?
And he get excoriated for parroting a former Democratic secretary of state, but not acting as tough. “At the speech’s start, the president states that the ‘United States is the one indispensable nation’—echoing former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright use of that phase in 1998. What is missing of course is the context for Secretary Albright’s point: the possible use of the US military against Iraq. As she said then, ‘If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future.’ So while the words are the same, the strategic tune being whistled is not nearly the same.”
But then the speech wasn’t the only news. Obama’s handling of the VA got shredded as well. “A new inspector general report finding more than 1,700 veterans were placed on fake waiting lists at an Arizona hospital has triggered the first two Democratic senators to demand that Department of Veterans Affairs secretary Eric Shinseki resign. On Wednesday, Senators Mark Udall of Colorado and John Walsh of Montana called on Shinseki to go. Udall said that Shinseki ‘must step down’ in a statement, while Walsh released his own statement calling on President Obama ‘to remove Secretary Shinseki from office.'” Democrats defying the White House?! It must be an election year.