Obama’s Iraq speech messages:
1) Attention liberals: I ended the Iraq war, as promised!
2) Attention conservatives: I did not cut and run.
3) Attention soldiers: More benefits for you.
4) Attention region: I’m staying the course in Afghanistan.
5) Attention swing voters: My priority is the economy.
Too many messages, too many audiences. Too many hostages to fortune. The president promises both the end of the combat mission – and a commitment to securing Iraq’s future. What happens if those commitments conflict? He promises that all troops will leave Iraq by the end of 2011. That pledge may depend on what the meaning of “troops” is.
Questions left behind:
Will liberals accept these results as anything like what they voted for in 2008?
Will Iraq’s reality cooperate with the president’s plans to draw down in that theater as he revs up in Afghanistan?
Can leaders motivate troops to fight a successful war in Afghanistan when the leaders themselves express little confidence in success?
Will Iran notice that the speech did not guarantee Iraq against aggression by Iraq’s neighbors?
Wasn’t that an awfully thin compliment to President Bush? Really, if that’s all you will say – better not to say anything.