By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

B-minus Barack does no harm

In my latest for the Guardian, I survey morning-after punditry following President Obama’s speech on Iraq, and discover that even some of his critics were mildly impressed. The problem is that no one, including his supporters, was particularly wowed, either.


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  1. Steve Stein

    Problem that no one was not “wowed”?

    It would have been unseemly for Obama to celebrate this. It was not his war. He opposed the surge, which arguably brought a slightly more palatable “conclusion” to our involvement. We have more men in the field, in the fight and at risk, so it was a tough tightrope to walk.

    In the final analysis, is there anything about Iraq to “wow” about? Seven-plus years after “Mission Accomplished”? After 4000-plus Americans and how many tens of thousands of Iraqis died for non-existent “WMDs” that we knew weren’t there in the first place, but were scared into believing by war-mongering Bushies in search of better oil contracts for their oil buddies?

    As far as I can tell, the only thing to note is The End, and there’s really nothing to celebrate. And certainly nothing to “Wow”.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Steve: There are many varieties of “wow.” Think his left-most supporters would have been wowed if Obama had trashed Bush instead of praised him? Yeah, I think so, too.

  2. Steve Stein

    Obama is as likely to trash Bush on foreign policy as he is to sprout wings. If he had done that, the obvious next question would be why he is not prosecuting certain Bush officials for war crimes. Or modifying Bush’s policy regarding Gitmo (even though Obama promised to do so). Or doing anything else that might please Glenn Greenwald.

    I agree with Obama’s choice here. First of all, it’s a little late to do anything about it. And second of all, I subscribe to the quaint notion that in foreign policy, politics should stop at the water’s edge.

  3. L.K. Collins

    I am glad so many people are impressed by a speech that basically said nothing.

    And that hs become this president’s biggest problem. His speeches say nothing or make his statements in previous speeches “inoperative”. (e.g., the surge was going to do nothing for the stability of the Iraqi situation; the closing of Guantanamo, “Recovery Summer”, the economy is showing positive signs etc.)

    And they wonder why his numbers are tanking.

    Somewhere along the line his rhetoric needs to have some basis in reality.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Obama’s job-approval rating a year ago was 51 percent, according to Gallup. Now it’s 47 percent. A four-point drop, with a poll that has a three-point margin of error.

      Congressional Democrats: 37 percent. Congressional Republicans: 30 percent.

      The most despised political class in America continues to be Republican members of Congress. But our media don’t tell us that.

  4. L.K.Collins

    Take a hard look, if you can stand it Dan, at the right-direction/wrong direction numbers.

    They paint a very stark picture of the status of the President’s effectiveness.

    But hey, no one can make you look at them with any degree of seriousness. It’s the elitist liberal in you.

    And how do you like Gov. Patrick’s recent remarks on freedom?

    You’ve been remarkably silent. I wonder why.

  5. Mike Benedict

    Spin is a GOP apologist trying to while away the hours “explaining” why his guys are more relevant even though every poll says at least 70% of the country think they suck.

    Good luck, L.K. Better check the underside of that Henry II next time!

  6. Nial Lynch

    And yet, at the next State of the Union, Pelosi is not in the camera shot and the Senate comes down to one or two either way. Maybe the 30 percent reflects dissatisfaction that some Republicans are not right enough, e.g., Murkowski, Bennett and possibly Castle.

  7. Aaron Read

    I wonder, Dan. The media critics are one thing, but I think a lot of Obama supporters have painfully learned that anytime Obama is trying to appease then unappeaseable, the supporters get screwed. True or not, that’s how they feel.

    This is especially dangerous, because many of them adopted a simple political analysis during the Bush years: if Bush is for it, I am against it. Now that same shallow thinking is getting applied to Obama and it’ll be DEADLY to the Dems in Congress come November.

  8. L.K. Collins

    “Recover Summer”, Mikey, unemployment up another notch.

    How you gonna spin that?

    Comments from the administration: Things are fine.

    I wonder why people aren’t listening to the alleged leader?

  9. Mike Benedict

    Last time I checked, they trust Obama a lot more than anyone else on the public stage.

    Problem is, a few people like yourself have never read their history — or got so old, you forgot it.

  10. Christian Avard

    ‎”I’m glad Obama was elected. Otherwise, people would blame the war on McCain and the Republicans and continue with the delusion that elections can be our salvation. The modern nation-state was created by war, of war, and for war. That is its only real purpose, and all others are subordinate to it. You can change the executive director, but s/he is still Commander-in-Chief. That’s the job description,” – Stan Goff, former Army Special Operations solider and organizer of Bring Them Home Now

    That quote is money … and spot on.

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