President Bush’s speech last night was not as strong as the one he gave Wednesday-but it was a fine speech.

I got nervous when he warned the public not to despair-it reminded me of Jimmah Carter’s malaise-but it was fine: The Prez isn’t feeling despair; his adversaries are.

Bush took on his critics in a gentlemanly fashion, clearly setting out our choices:

“My conviction comes down to this,” Bush said. “We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them.”

“I have heard your disagreement, and I know how deeply it is felt,” he said to his critics. “Yet now there are only two options before our country – victory or defeat.”

Real Clear Politics pundit John McIntyre thinks that the tide is turning in Bush’s favor and that the his enemies have (once again) walked into a trap:

“Not recognizing the political ground had shifted beneath their feet, Democrats continued to press forward with their offensive against the President. They’ve now foolishly climbed out on a limb that Rove and Bush have the real potential to chop off. One would think that after the political miscalculations the Democrats made during the 2002 and 2004 campaigns they would not make the same mistake a third time, but it is beginning to look a lot like Charlie Brown and the football again.

“First, the Democrats still do not grasp that foreign affairs and national security issues are their vulnerabilities, not their strengths. All of the drumbeat about Iraq, spying, and torture that the left thinks is so damaging to the White House are actually positives for the President and Republicans. Apparently, Democrats still have not fully grasped that the public has profound and long-standing concerns about their ability to defend the nation. As long as national security related issues are front page news, the Democrats are operating at a structural political disadvantage. Perhaps the intensity of their left wing base and the overwhelmingly liberal press corps produces a disorientation among Democratic politicians and prevents a more realistic analysis of where the country’s true pulse lies on these issues.”

Bush repeatedly took responsibility for the decision to go to war. Instapundit has an intriguing take on this:

“Why did he do that? Because he thinks we’re winning, and he wants credit. By November 2006, and especially November 2008, he thinks that’ll be obvious, and he wants to lay down his marker now on what he believed — and what the other side did. That’s my guess, anyway.”

(As Mark Steyn points out, the successful elections in Iraq were bad for the U.S., large cap Democrats.)

I was a little disappointed that the president didn’t talk about his decision to spy on people with terrorist connections in the U.S. (called “spying on Americans” by the New York Times). But that’s probably not going to be a huge issue-most Americans prefer not to be blown to smithereens or otherwise attacked by vicious men in hoods and are glad that the president is protecting them from such a fate.