President Obama will address the nation on Iraq tonight, marking the date that he pledged to withdraw combat troops from Iraq. The speech though won’t use the phrase “Mission Accomplished.”
Five years ago, it would have been pretty standard to have a big speech from the President on Iraq. But this is a President who campaigned against the war.
And now he gets to announce that he’s followed through on his pledge to pull out combat forces by August 31.
“What it means also is this redoubles the efforts of the Iraqis,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. “They will write the next chapter in Iraqi history and they will be responsible for it.”
For many Democratic voters, this should be a welcome announcement, as the President will be able to tout something else that he’s checked off on his agenda.
But for many others, there might be the thought tonight of – why is he talking about Iraq? Why isn’t the President talking about the economy?
It also seems logical that if you discuss Iraq, where things have progressed, then you probably need to talk about the other war in Afghanistan, where things haven’t been going that well.
The pledge there is to start withdrawing troops by the middle of next year, which even military commanders have tiptoed around in public.
The White House shrugged off questions about the political smarts of making this speech, saying that Mr. Obama is clearly showing that he’s up to speed on the troubles of the economy, noting his remarks on it Monday.
Some things I’ll be looking for tonight – what will he say about Afghanistan? How will the President mark this date in terms of the contribution of President Bush? After all, it was the controversial “surge” by the last President that started turning things around in Iraq.
Also, will there be any mention of economic issues tonight?
Finally, will this speech make any difference? Maybe part of the answer can be found in this question:
The first Oval Office address by President Obama was two and a half months ago.
Do you remember what was it about?