Columnist Tony Blankley of the Washington Times gives George Bush higher marks than I did for his Monday night speech on Iraq. But, says Blankley, it’s not the speech that matters now:
“It’s never been easy being a wartime American president,” writes Blankley. “Great speechifying may start a war or celebrate a victory: But it can’t win one. And that is where President Bush is right now. It matters surpassingly little whether the president gave a good speech Monday night or not (for my money it was a good speech of little consequence). Most of the post-speech commentary focused on its short-term political effect. Would it calm and unify nervous Republican congressmen? Would women in America feel comforted? But what matters is what happens in Iraq in the next five months. The consequence of the speech, such as it may be, rests on what it tells us about future events in Iraq.”
Like those who supported Lincoln’s war (you remember that one, don’t you?) those who believe in the Iraq war are worried. We want a stable Iraq with democratic elections;they wanted to preserve the Union. Lincoln lamented in a letter (quoted in the Blankley column) that he would have to do what he could to save the Union between the election–when he expected to be defeated–and the inauguration of his successor. But events intervened:
“In late August 1864, the Democratic National Convention, to much cheering, pronounced Lincoln’s war ’a failure,’” writes Blankley. “On Sept. 4, Gen. Sherman telegraphed that ’Atlanta is ours, and fairly won.’ On the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, Lincoln won 55 percent of the votes.