America

So, What Did You Think Of President Obama's Prime-time Speech?

With Little Fanfare, The War In Iraq Officially Comes To End

hide captionNoel Deliz and Albert Gomez watch President Obama as he delivers a speech to the nation on television at the El Rey De Las Fritas restaurant in Miami. What did you think of the address?

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

As was to be expected, there was a range of reaction to President Obama's Oval Office address this morning.  After the jump, you can read some highlights.

I was struck by how many critics of the speech didn't have qualms with its content; rather, they criticized the president's delivery.

If you have a few minutes to spare, read the excerpts below, give it a grade, then weigh in. What did you think of the president's speech? (We welcome comments about substance — and style.)

The National Review's Victor Davis Hanson:

Most Americans will support President Obama’s call for patience in Afghanistan and his policy of continuing the long-planned drawdown in Iraq.

But there was something bizarre about his entire Iraq speech — it was as if it were being delivered by an exhausted Obama factotum, rather than the animate Obama of old. So we got a flat Iraq / flat Afghanistan / flat hope-and-change recession address. It almost seemed a chore.

The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson:

Politicos will be universally dissatisfied. Liberals will say he gave George W. Bush too much credit; conservatives, not enough. But I think he did himself and his party some good tonight. He was generous enough to Bush, resolute in his intentions and obviously sincere in his praise of the troops. He wore the presidency with an accessory that Americans expect and appreciate: gravitas.

The New Yorker's George Packer:

What President Obama called the end of the combat mission in Iraq is a meaningless milestone, constructed almost entirely out of thin air, and his second Oval Office speech marks a rare moment of dishonesty and disingenuousness on the part of a politician who usually resorts to rare candor at important moments. The fifty thousand troops who will remain in Iraq until the end of next year will still be combat troops in everything but name, because they will be aiding one side in an active war zone. The proclaimed end of Operation Iraqi Freedom has little or nothing to do with the military and political situation in Iraq, which is why Iraqis were barely aware when the last U.S. combat brigade crossed into Kuwait a few days ago. And for most of us, too—except, perhaps, those with real skin in the game, the million and a half Iraq war veterans and their families—there's hardly any reality or substance to the moment.

The New York Times:

There was no victory to declare last night, and Mr. Obama was right not to try. If victory was ever possible in this war, it has not been won, and America still faces the daunting challenges of the other war, in Afghanistan.

As we heard Mr. Obama speak from his desk with his usual calm clarity and eloquence, it made us wish we heard more from him on many issues. We are puzzled about why he talks to Americans directly so rarely and with seeming reluctance. This was only his second Oval Office address in more than 19 months of crisis upon crisis. The country particularly needs to hear more from Mr. Obama about what he rightly called the most urgent task — “to restore our economy and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work.”

The Weekly Standard's William Kristol:

Not a bad tribute to the troops, and not a bad statement of the importance and indispensability of hard power.

And, on the whole, not a bad speech by the president.

The Nation's John Nichols:

Obama gave a political speech on the eve of a volatile fall campaign. The president was savvy at some points, nuanced at others. He hit bipartisan themes; even adding a kind (if not quite approving) word for former President George Bush.

But, even if the president graceful, he was trying to touch too many bases in order to score any kind of political coup.

The Wall Street Journal:

President Obama has often struck us as an ambivalent Commander in Chief, and last night's 19-minute Oval Office address will do little to change that perception — especially abroad, where an American President's determination is most carefully parsed.

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