I watched the President’s speech, but only watched a few minutes of the post speech commentary. I saw Tim Russert say that Bush bet his presidency on Iraq and that tonight he made that bet double or nothing.
I was impressed by the speech. I thought the President struck the correct tone, explained the plan sufficiently for viewers to follow along, and provided enough details for them to decide for themselves whether or not they believe the plan deserves a shot. He also did a really good job explaining why it is so incredibly important that we do everything possible to succeed in Iraq. He cited in some detail some of the mistakes that have contributed to the current situation. He made clear that he took full responsibility. He said that the troops have done everything that has been asked of them and that they bear no blame for the things that have not worked.
I am sure there will be much debate over various components of the plan and the bi-partisan advisory group he mentioned, which will include Joe Lieberman, will most likely be attacked vigorously by many Democrats. If the plan is implemented and works, the President will be criticized for not changing course earlier. What we will have to wait to see is whether or not the President is able to move public opinion any over the next few weeks. Some of that will depend upon how the media covers this change in course. The next big speech will be the State of the Union address. Stay tuned.
Update: The transcript and video can be found at the White House site.
I failed to mention my favorite parts of the speech. I will dig them out of the transcript and post shortly.
Update II: Here is my most favorite line:
Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have.
I wonder what Dick Durbin would say about that? Or Jack Murtha, who wants to close Gitmo? The Democrats and those in the media have done a great job creating the perception that our troops have been too heavy handed and ruthless and that the horrible abuses they have commited against the Iraqi people are a big reason violence there has escalated. Abuses like those as Abu Ghraib certainly did nothing but hurt the mission, but I would argue that our commitment to minimize civilian casualties has cost us many U.S lives and in many instances we have, for many reasons including cultural sensitivity, insisted that our troops fight with their hands tied.
Here is my other favorite line from the speech:
Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We’ll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.
I am sure there were more than a few people applauding that line tonight.
Update III: I think Uncle Jimbo is one of those cheering.
Mary Katharine Ham keeps track of those for and against the plan.
The Anchoress is keeping track of those who were for it before they were against it.
Glenn Reynolds has lots of Iraq and surge links including this one from Victor Davis Hanson, “After listening tonight to Wesley Clark, Dick Durbin, Tom Vilsack, Nancy Pelosi, etc. I still can’t for the life of me learn what they want to do.” Glenn has the answer for him.
Bob Owens has some choice words for those who are in favor of the surge for all the wrong reasons — and it involves morays.
Jay at Stop the ACLU liveblogged and has lots of links to speech reaction.
A.J. Strata has some excellent commentary and points out that the speech put the Democrats squarely in the pessimist camp.
Tom Delay has comments on the new plan here.
Pierre Legrand is ready for the gloves to come off.