I will modestly disagree with blogfriend Jonathan Schwarz when he writes, à propos The Obama AfPakWarSpeak:
The decision's been made. Now all we need is a reason!That is to say, I think that this interpretation is right in spirit but wrong in fact.
It would seem to me that the decision-making process, such as it was, the set-piece meetings held in series over the last few months, have been mere prelude to a speech. We may recall that all of the "options" presented to Obama were the same option. It would therefore seem that what we have is not so much a decision in search of a publishable reason as a speech in search of an occasion. A small distinction, perhaps, but a difference nonetheless.
While I don't agree entirely with the popular conservative complaint that Obama "governs by speechmaking," it is true that the oratorical mode is his rhetorical preference. Where circumstances have presented the opportunity for him to engage his hortatory charms, he's leapt to it. Here, the daily dullness of occupation and counterinsurgency has simply failed to provide a punctuating event convenient for the delivery of a bit of revival wisdom, and so the producers of our great democracy have done what producers do: created an event. It is no more real than the latest fluctuations of Tom and Katie. Presidential addresses are so very like the movies in any case. They get released to the critics ahead of time; a few snobs pay attention to the reviews; everyone else goes, or doesn't; likes it, or doesn't. Someone at Slate writes a column. The Steelers drop another one. Christmas arrives. What were we saying?