I watched the President's speech yesterday on television. I found it uninspiring, which is bad if his intent was to inspire.
I heard rhetoric, I heard him basically say that we won't "stay the course" even though that's what we've said over the years (I understand semantics, but he's running from his party line now, there's little doubt about that). I heard him say that the terrorists want us to leave Iraq before we win because then they will have a powerful nation from which to launch terrorist attacks against America. I heard him say that he's setting benchmarks for Iraq's government, and that he listens to the generals in the field. I even heard him say he's accountable.
What I didn't hear were any answers to details. I didn't hear what would happen to Iraq if they failed to meet the President's benchmarks. I didn't hear what would happen if it became clear that we needed more troops in Iraq (which I thought was clear from the outset, but I may be wrong). I didn't hear why the hunt for terrorists had us leave the nation where the terrorists were while we were hunting for our numero uno terrorist to invade a nation where the terrorists weren't based on the pretext of WMDs that weren't there makes it necessary to prevent the terrorists from attacking us from there now that we are there. I did hear that there were new strategies being implemented to cut down on the insurgency - I am glad he acknowledged there WAS an insurgency, but I didn't hear what was being changed, or what hadn't worked in the past that showed why we were changing.
Most importantly, I heard that we need to stay until we win, and we're winning, but if we leave before we win, then we lose.
I basically heard that sentiment repeated in his speech, in his Q&A, etc.
At this point, it seems like the president is viewing Iraq in a delaying tactic mode. He doesn't provide clear, or any, answers as to how we're going to "win" the war in Iraq, other than to say "we're changing," but he says if we don't win, then we'll lose. It sounds to me as though he wants to drag on the situation in Iraq through the end of his presidency, knowing that there's no victory to be had, just so that whenever a president decides we HAVE had enough of Iraq, then when he (or she) pulls the troops out and all-out civil war erupts, he can say "See? I told you this would happen! THIS is why I wouldn't keep the troops out." This leaves the choice to be between future failure and continous policing action. Neither of those options sound too palatable to me.
One other thing. I heard the president make a veiled attempt to tell voters to not vote Democrat this election. He basically said "blame me. I'm the one responsible, not Congress." In other words, "don't punish the incumbents for the things in Iraq not being good. I know things are bad, so blame me." This logic fails me, though, because Congress acted as the enablers here. The president ran unchecked, basically, and if the House and Senate stay as they are, it will be akin to rewarding them for their behavior. And that's the wrong reason to hold Republican majority right now.