By now you’ve surely heard some less than glowing characterizations of President Obama’s May 28 commencement address at West Point. Maybe you’ve seen the video, peppered with soft applause, far less than what one might expect at a presidential address at a military academy.
That’s because the content itself was far below what one might expect from a Commander-in-Chief, especially in remarks supposedly provided to inspire young men and women about to serve under him.
Even my meager expectations were not met. This meandering, uninspired (and uninspiring) exercise in pontificating and scapegoating was from a President far more eager to defend himself politically than our nation strategically.
But rather than add to an already powerful body of negative reviews, I thought I’d cue up actual excerpts that cried out for immediate response. They are offered in the order delivered; I will leave it to the reader to rank them in order of effrontery:
1. “When I first spoke at West Point in 2009, we still had more than 100,000 troops in Iraq. We were preparing to surge in Afghanistan. Our counterterrorism efforts were focused on Al Qaeda’s core leadership — those who had carried out the 9/11 attacks. And our nation was just beginning a long climb out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Four and a half years later, as you graduate, the landscape has changed. We have removed our troops from Iraq. We are winding down our war in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda’s leadership on the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been decimated, and Osama bin Laden is no more. And through it all, we’ve refocused our investments in what has always been a key source of American strength: a growing economy that can provide opportunity for everybody who’s willing to work hard and take responsibility here at home.”
One can taste his disdain for that horrible era when we had 100,000 troops in Iraq, also known as the period when we at least appeared serious about making Iraq safe for democracy. I’m sure the cadets appreciated the reminder of their teenage years, when we were beginning that “long climb” out of the economic crisis. It’s been long, all right, and shows no sign of great progress. The progress the President clearly embraces is getting past that nasty war spending and “refocusing our investments” on domestic spending, always a riveting theme at military graduations.