A Call To Come Home
by Deacon Blues
President Obama is slated to give an Oval Office speech tonight marking the official end of combat operations in Iraq. Certainly the White House is looking for a political benefit from such a speech, and relishing a chance for the country to get a reminder that Obama brought this about. However, as with their other political instincts since taking office, the White House team is bungling a chance at a narrative-changing event that could have mirrored their basic campaign message of reform and change.
Obama’s speech will likely focus on praising American combat forces, as it should. But Obama will go a step further and talk about how the mission isn’t over, which his team thinks makes him look responsible and strong, rather than a cut-and-runner. Yet coupling what could have been a coda to our operations in Iraq with a message of continuity will only remind Americans that they want to be done with Iraq, and yet Obama represents to them more of the same in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sixty percent of Americans think Iraq was not worth going to war over, and a majority of those polled say the war was a mistake and will be judged by history as a failure. By a 2-1 margin, respondents don’t want to send more troops back into Iraq under any circumstances. For that matter, a growing percentage of the country feels that Obama’s stepped-up commitment to Afghanistan is also a mistake. Get the drift?
This president thought he could sell health care reform ahead of jobs and financial reform. Yet health care reform’s political benefits have already dissipated ahead of the midterm election, at a time when voters want to focus on the economy and getting out of foreign commitments.
Would it be too much to ask this president to seize an opportunity with his own version of the "Mission Accomplished" speech by calling for America to come home and focus on Main Street?
While congratulating the soldiers for a job well done, why not tell the country tonight that we can never again fight a war of choice, nor can we afford to shoulder a $2 trillion burden in doing so, at a time when some are calling for cuts to Social Security and Medicare to address debt.
While praising the work of our armed forces, why not tell the country that it’s time for America to revisit all of its foreign commitments for their contribution to our national security, and specifically mention Afghanistan? Why not tell voters that it’s time for America to come home, stop sticking its nose into everyone else’s business and insisting our way is the right way when the last 9 years have clearly shown it not to be true?
Why not tell voters that it’s time for the country to look inward towards fixing our problems here at home, and that the days of American being the world’s policeman on Main Street’s credit card are over?
And why not tell viewers tonight that the end of combat operations in Iraq give America a chance to close the chapter on the last nine years and the policies that got us into this mess, and that it’s time to have the debate about what kind of change and country we want going forward? He can then remind voters that they have a choice between those who preach the status quo of the last nine years and want foreign entanglements, and those who are willing to have an honest debate about the kind of change he campaigned on.
In other words, if Obama were a smart politician, he would use this opportunity to relaunch his presidency and remind independents why they voted for him in the first place. And if Obama is seriously overrated, he'll simply talk about staying the course, reminding voters with each passing day that he resembles more of the same.
Simply put, if we get the "we'll finish the mission" speech after the last 20 months of disappointments, why would Democrats turn out this fall?