The transcript of Bush's speech is here.
Biggest applause line: "America will not run in the face of carbombers and assassins so long as I am your commander in chief."
Check that. I just rewatched the beginning and this was the biggest applause line: "Thanks for the warm welcome. It's good to be back at the Naval Academy. I'm pleased to provide a convenient excuse for you to miss class."
This speech addressed, at length, the training of Iraqi troops. Lots of numbers:
- 120 Iraqi Army and Police combat battalions
- Batallions are comprised of between 350 and 800 Iraqi forces
- 80 Iraqi battalions are fighting side-by-side with coalition forces
- 40 others are taking the lead in the fight
- 90 square miles of Baghdad province turned over to Iraqi security forces
- Over a dozen bases in Iraq handed over to the Iraqi government
- Iraq has now six basic police academies, and one in Jordan
- They produce over 3,500 new police officers every ten weeks
This is where I wish he would use some good, old-fashioned charts and pointers. A little too Ross Perot? Perhaps, but I've always been a fan of Bill Roggio's Flash presentations on the Anbar Campaign and Iraq Ops 2005. A Flash presentation showing the numbers and locations of Iraqi troops in 2004 compared to the same for 2005 would be great. It would paint a much clearer picture than numbers alone.
Bush can't pull that kind of thing off during a speech, but the White House Web site could, and he could promote it during the speech. Barring that, he could put up one of those cheesy super-sized information posters the Senators love so much.
As evidence of Iraqi troop improvement, he compared operations in Fallujah in 2004 to operations in Talafar this year.
In Fallujah, the assault was led by nine coalition battalions made up primarily of United States Marines and Army -- with six Iraqi battalions supporting them...
This year in TAL Afar, it was a very different story. The assault was primarily led by Iraqi security forces -- 11 Iraqi battalions, backed by five coalition battalions providing support. Many Iraqi units conducted their own anti-terrorist operations and controlled their own battle space -- hunting for enemy fighters and securing neighborhoods block-by-block.
I thought quotes from Iraqi soldiers and commanders were powerful. And, of course, the letter from the late Marine Cpl. Jeffrey Starr.
Michelle Malkin reminds us of the chop job the NYT pulled on Starr's letter.
Polipundit was a fan of another quote from the speech.
ABP says this is what W should have been doing all along, and that it will help.
The Left Coaster is looking for benchmarks.
And, via Left Coaster, I find that Jeffrey Feldman at Daily Kos and I had the same reaction to official Democratic response to the speech:
According to John Kerry, the problem with the President's "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" was that it made the claim that the U.S. military belonged to the President's policy and not to the American people (hang on, here, it's hard to explain Kerry's arguments). He then went on to explain that Democrats are not calling for a time table for leaving Iraq, but were instead calling for a time table for success in Iraq which would allow for the U.S. military to leave (See the difference? Yeah...me neither).
I think Bush just needs to keep talking to the American people, regularly-- keep showing and telling them about the numbers and the accomplishments, not just the mission and vision. This is a good start.
UPDATE: Bill Hobbs shows how the LAT can cover Bush's speech while mostly ignoring his speech.