Pundits Split on Obama's 'Churchill Moment'

Some find president's resolve unconvincing
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2009 1:24 AM CST
Updated Dec 2, 2009 7:51 AM CST
President Obama greets cadets after he spoke about the war in Afghanistan at West Point in New York yesterday.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – President Obama staked his presidency on the Afghanistan war last night, but pundits are widely split on how convincingly he made the case for escalation.

  • This was no George W. Bush on an aircraft carrier, writes Matthew Cooper in the Atlantic. This was a community organizer turned war president," making a compelling, "almost Kissengerian" argument that just like with health care we need to spend now to save later, Cooper notes.

  • "The worst major speech of his presidency" left Joan Walsh at Salon deeply pessimistic about the chances of success in Afghanistan. Obama failed to give any convincing reasons why we are escalating the fight in Afghanistan now, and didn't seem all that convinced himself, she writes.
  • Obama's "strangely schizophrenic" emphasis on the possibly incompatible goals of victory and a speedy withdrawal is unlikely to go down well with either liberals or conservatives, and won't persuade the undecided, writes Ross Douthat at the New York Times. The president barely seemed to mention military strategy, he notes.
  • Obama showed "a steely resolve" that had been lacking before, writes Richard Cohen at the Washingon Post. The president showed it is possible to urge a nation to war "using reason and logic, facts and figures—and not by waving the bloody shirt of patriotic fibs," Cohen notes.

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