December 19, 2005

Gotta Disagree On this One

Posted in Politics at 3:00 pm by antonello

Jonathan Chait in the New Republic’s blog The Plank:

A SURPRISE IN BUSH’S IRAQ SPEECH:

I am not, to say the least, a fan of President Bush. But a portion of his speech tonight genuinely moved me and made me think more highly of him. It was the part where he addressed opponents of the Iraq war, said he understand their passion but asked that they think of the stakes of defeat now that the war had happened and asked that they not give in to despair. I cannot remember this president ever speaking to his political opponents except to mischaracterize their views and use them as a straw man. (His post-Florida speech did to some extent, but it was so vague and struck me as so patently disingenuous that it didn’t produce any similar reaction in me.)

This may be easy for me to say because I supported the war and oppose withdrawal. But even Bush’s prior pro-war speeches mostly struck me as simplistic, ugly and demagogic, reminders that I supported the war despite the administration rather than because of it. But this moment in his speech tonight really struck me as some kind of symbolic or emotional break from the past for Bush–a genuine attempt to unify Americans rather than polarize them. Bush and his supporters (both inside and outside the administration) have made it so damn hard to support them on this war. It just got a little easier tonight.

Jonathan Chait

I had the opposite reaction. I think W did misrepresent the people who don’t agree with the administration’s attempt on the war (see the earlier entry today). Also from the speech,

In all three aspects of our strategy — security, democracy, and reconstruction — we have learned from our experiences, and fixed what has not worked. We will continue to listen to honest criticism, and make every change that will help us complete the mission.

How has the administration listened to criticism? Generally with slander and misrepresentation. W set up the shell game he has played many times. Given lip service to the importance of something, then let the administration do the opposite.  (For two quick examples, aid to Africa following last year’s state of the union and funding No Child Left Behind)

I will believe W is sincere when real attempts are made to answer questions from his critics.  Then either change his policies or justify why they are the staying same.  I haven’t seen that yet.

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