Tevye seems to be the dominant analytical prism through which most conservative commentators viewed President Obama's strange, in Krauthammer's word, speech last night at West Point announcing deployment of another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. On the one hand, most agreed, he was defensive, uninspiring, graceless and put some of the cadets literally to sleep. On the other, he did announce a troop increase and in numbers close to what General McChrystal requested. Is MC churlish to ask for a slightly higher bar for the Commander in Chief?
Yes, the Left is in high dudgeon about the troop increase but when is it never not when it comes to things military? Liberal intellectual icon Gary Wills positively threw a fit in print by declaring that he will never praise Obama again nor give him any money. Take that. Demogogic Chris Matthews suggested outloud that the venue of the speech was an enemy camp. Rep. Maxine Waters was saddened (she of two modes: sad or angry). Senior senator from Illinois Dick Durban was positively acidic when he responded with a two sentence reaction, to the effect that Obama had said he wanted time to make this decision and Durbin was going to take his time to think through what was offered in the speech. Can this marriage survive?
The always lugubrious Joan Walsh of Salon declared herself to be deeply disappointed, "saddened even" but in the end not feeling betrayed. Such a big girl! She then closes out what passes for analysis but reads more like a therapy session in print, that the whole sordid affair is Bush's fault and takes comfort from the fact that Obama isn't Cheney. Well, one squish's riches is another conservative's poverty.
Rachel Maddow fretted that Obama has embraced the fundamentals of the Bush Doctrine (which one she didn't say and there are many formulations of it although sneering Charlie Gibson would deny it) while Glenn Greenberg said the speech was "a mishmash of political calculations bereft of principle and plagued by numerous internal contradictions that make it impossible to understand, let alone defend." Really, who on earth would have thought that an inexperienced community organizer would fail to make an effective Commander in Chief? Tom Friedman, reflecting upon Afghanistan, was positively incoherent. Again.
Rich Lowry, in a piece for the New York Post, had possibly the most Tevye of all the Tevye analyses on the Right. That was fine, as far as it went. Yet he did end with a wonderful flourish, looking at Obama's poor performace and, a la Don Rumsfeld, observed that one goes to war with the President they have.
Finally, Der Spiegel sent the Tevye prism packing and thoroughly panned the speech from both sides of the political spectrum. Read the article here. It ended on a merciless note: "The American president doesn't need any opponents at the moment. He's already got himself."
Click on the title of this post to be taken to Real Clear Politics from which the views of the usual suspects Left and Right can be accessed.