How say anything clear about a presidential address to the nation that wasn't?
The only thing clear about the president's speech Wednesday night was its lack of clarity. The only sure conclusion to be drawn about his not so new policy in the
So the president and the rest of the free world that
It all looks and feels familiar. If only vaguely. This latest presidential address fits right in with the web of ad-hoc decisions our leader substituted for leadership some time ago.
It came as a surprise to look down at the end of the president's speech and find that the whole thing had lasted only 15 minutes; it only seemed to go on for hours. Abandon hope, all ye who enter this fog bank -- which remains as blank as when the president entered it. There's no doubt the president's speech was nuanced. One might even say it was all nuance, no meaning. It's one thing to have a subtle policy, but does a mass of vague generalizations rise to subtlety?
The morning after, my notes on the speech still seemed as inchoate as the speech itself, my conclusions about it as inconclusive. For when discussing a vague policy, even the discussion turns vague. For example:
We are definitely going to war in the
This will not be an open-ended commitment, though the president sees no end to it.
There will be No Boots on the Ground even if the president has already dispatched a thousand or two of them to
We aren't being dragged into another war there, the president insists, but if not, why the insistence? It's not just in Shakespearean tragedies that the actor protests too much, but in real ones.
No, there will not be another American war in the
We're finally going to openly arm and train the opposition in
Our president assures us he has a point-by-point plan to fight terrorism in the
And in conclusion ... there didn't seem to be one to the president's speech, any more than there was to the war in
Ah, well, the British acquired a great empire mainly in an absence of mind; why can't we? Even if we don't want one. The Brits call it Muddling Through, and this president has got the muddling part down pat. It's the getting through that eludes him.
A great leader of a democracy, someone once said, is one who can explain complicated problems to the people simply. This president has a talent for explaining simple problems in the most complicated way. It goes with his natural inclination toward the indecisive.
The British Empire did prove a highly effective institution for the longest time, despite an occasional mishap like the independence of
Here's hoping the president's speech Wednesday night confused our enemies as much as it did our friends and his fellow Americans. Ah, if only hope were a policy. ... The president did appear quite confident throughout his presentation -- calm, composed, sure of himself and his plan. Just why isn't clear, either.