Wednesday, January 24, 2007

More on Webb

The best presidential speechwriter in my lifetime, Michael Gerson, weighs in on the Jim Webb rebuttal to the State of the Union address last evening and found it a mess, too, although many in the MSM liked it because it bashed Bush.

Whenever a politician puts out to the media that he has thrown away the speechwriters' draft and written the remarks himself (as Webb did), it is often a sign of approaching mediocrity. This was worse. Senator Webb made liberal use of clichés: the middle class is "the backbone" of the country, which is losing its "place at the table." I am not even sure there is a literary term for a mixed metaphor that crosses two clichés. And Senator Webb's logic was as incoherent as his language (the two are often related). No "precipitous withdrawal"—but retreat "in short order." Fight the war on terror vigorously—except where the terrorists have chosen to fight it. It is, perhaps, a good thing that James Webb earned a job as senator. As a speechwriter he would starve.
Gerson also has strong thoughts on U.S. Senators who think it is wise to tell our troops headed to Iraq that their new mission is doomed.

Perhaps the most compelling argument of the day was not made by President Bush or Senator Webb—and it was made in five words. Earlier in the day, General David Petraeus testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. When asked if he could get his job done in Iraq without additional troops, he replied: "No, sir." When asked if a congressional resolution of disapproval of the "surge" could encourage the enemy, he said, "That's correct, sir." Under these circumstances, it is hard to imagine what impulse of arrogance could cause Republican senators like Warner and Collins to actively undermine the operational judgment of a skilled commander in the field, at the beginning of a decisive military campaign. The next week or so will test the proposition: does the military chain of command end in the Oval Office or on the Senate floor? I live in Virginia—but I have never voted for either senator from Virginia to be commander in chief.
So Hillary, Barack and Dick know more about military strategy than Petraeus?

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