Thursday, May 29, 2014

Obama's West Point Speech: Cadets Were Left Asking Themselves---WTF?

The president takes no personal responsibility for a declining America. He blames his policies...Tweet by Jay Carnie

  • Imagine if you will, you are a West Point cadet. You just completed perhaps the most vigorous academic and physical four years of your life. During your short 22 years, your country has been involved in two very long wars resulting in thousands of military casualties. Then imagine your Commander in Chief making a commencement speech that not only sounds like a typical politician's campaign speech (the president, once again, alluded to George W. Bush's policies) but he informs you what your country should NOT be rather than what it is...the greatest nation on God's green earth. After all, you're a West Point graduate. It's one of the reasons you chose to attend such a grand and honorable institution.
  • So is it surprising that applause from the West Point graduates yesterday was conspicuous by its absence? It shouldn't have been, because many of those graduates were left asking themselves: WTF?
  • Perhaps Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post said it best: "I think his speech was literally pointless. ...He didn't have a point. It was a defensive speech. It was an answer to the chorus of criticism from his side of the {political} aisle that it's been a weak, rudderless foreign policy, which it has been."
  • But, with all due respect to Krauthammer, I don't believe his criticism went far enough. The president's arrogance was on display again and could be best summarized by Obama's reminding the world (and the cadets) that he's not the feckless leader many now believe he is even though the evidence is clearly otherwise. No where was this more evident than the recent manner in which Putin, Assad and other thugs responded to Obama's threats. They did what they intended to do anyway. In other words, their perception of America's weak leadership (yes including Congress) embolden them. And even more disturbing and just as dangerous, Obama's weakness in foreign policy has been disheartening to many of our allies.
  • In addition, in downplaying America's exceptionalism (as he has a bad habit of doing), he neglected to tell the cadets that's it's been this exceptionalism that freed much of the world from totalitarian dictators, created some of the best technology in the history of the human race,  helped eradicate devastating diseases world-wide, and has given trillions in aid to hundreds of foreign countries especially in response to their own disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes and other forces of nature. By comparison, no other nation comes close.
  • And when it comes to fighting world-wide terrorism, his speech reminded me of a political cartoon I saw recently. It had two frames. In one, Pres. Obama has a bubble over his head that says: "In 2106, I'm ending the war in Afghanistan." In the other frame is an al-Qaeda creep. The bubble over his head states: "I'm not."
  • The bottom line in my opinion: Pres. Obama had an opportunity to inspire the graduating cadets at West Point yesterday with a speech focusing on our exceptionalism and national security. Instead, he left cadets asking themselves: WTF?