West Point: Another Photo-Op, Another Show

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December 1, 2009 | Comments

The President no doubt figured that staging his Afghanistan speech at West Point was a brilliant idea. Remember the doctors in the white coats? Remember the fake Parthenon towering behind him during his acceptance speech in Denver? Tonight could be another ideal photo-op, right? Surround myself with the dark gray of West Point cadets, and the message will be “they stand with me.”

But I didn’t see that. I saw stoic expressions on the young faces of these best and brightest. I saw polite applause, but I also saw the recognition of truth on their faces. They know this man regards them as his own private band of toy soldiers, to use at his whim, at his pleasure, particularly as photo-ops and campaign tools. This President — pronouncing words such as “Taliban” and “Pakistan” as though he were a native offering these entities respect — looked so very out of place preaching to those young warriors.

Avoiding words like “evil” and “terror” and “enemy,” the President looked the fool when he forgot he wasn’t speaking this time to a fawning Congress or a newsroom of slobbering reporters. He patted himself on the back, congratulating himself in the presence of the cadets for saluting the fallen warriors at Dover. He spoke of the economy and the expense of war, as though his audience should be both grateful and guilty for their connection to such high costs.

Most jarring was when he spoke of military strategy, as though he knew anything about it, as though he had ever studied it, as though he respects that which these young warriors and the generations who came before them have dedicated their lives. What must they, and all commanders, think when he speaks to them of this subject that for them comes as naturally as breathing?

Thanks to this lack of credibility, the President’s speech tonight was a rambling, defensive creation of people who don’t know how to speak convincingly of patriotism, America’s heritage and greatness, and the men and women who have died to preserve them. The President frankly doesn’t understand these young people. He doesn’t know who they are, and he doesn’t understand why they do what they do.

What he did offer of relevance to the cadets, to America, and to our troops both at home and in harm’s way, is that after months of dithering and dawdling and voting “present” while our people died, he is at last granting General McChrystal’s request for an increase of troops (30,000) in Afghanistan. Much to the delight of those who want to kill us and the troops who protect us, he announced, as well, that he will begin the withdrawal of American troops come summer 2011 (just in time for re-election campaigning).

Imagine Lincoln, Churchill, FDR, Grant, Eisenhower, George W. or Julius Caesar handing a timeline over to their enemies. Not a military commander in history would broadcast battle plans and timelines as this so-called Commander-in-Chief did tonight. And, as is his way, he did it without a shred of emotion or passion, and without a word of victory.

From the moment he declared himself a presidential candidate, this man has made abundantly clear his distaste for the military and his opposition toward any military action in which we have engaged for the protection of our nation in a post-9/11 world. Tonight, like every night, my heart goes out to the military moms and dads and sisters and brothers and daughters and sons and all of us who consider ourselves their families, too, knowing that the fates of our men and women in uniform rest in the hands of a man who has never truly committed himself to the safety of our nation and our people.

Indeed rather than listen to seasoned military advisors who actually attended West Point and Annapolis and the Air Force Academy, he has preferred instead to humiliate them publicly in order to appease the likes of his left-wing base and film-maker Michael Moore, the latter of whom wrote to him on Monday, that “It is not your job to do what all the generals tell you to do . . . we f—g hate these generals!” I’ll take that as the royal “we,” as the President has never shied away from Moore’s support and adulation.

And that is why I have to believe that tonight was tough for the President. With his approval ratings sagging, he defied the far left in favor of the generals, but he did not look all that comfortable standing before that sea of cadets. This man, who by his own admission spent his college years seeking out foreign students and communist professors and now wishes to “transform” America, had to recognize that he had no frame of understanding with the audience he sought to dazzle tonight, an audience devoted to the protection and preservation of America.

What he may or may not recognize, as well, is that the cadets in that audience know a fraud when they see one. And tonight that is exactly what they saw.

Betsy Siino | Comments