UPDATE 9:15 pm: I agree with Jed Lewison’s take on the speech. Basically, this was a unity speech, a “the past is over/let’s move forward together” speech, a “thank the troops” speech, a “pivot back to the economy” speech. On all those grounds, I think Obama did well, looked and sounded presidential, accomplished what he wanted to accomplish. Of course, the right wingnuts won’t be happy, nor will the International ANSWER types on the far left. But my guess is that most Americans in the “middle” will like it. Also, as Jed Lewison says, “I know some folks won’t be happy with the turn the page language as it relates to Bush and the errors of going to this war, but President Obama has long ago crossed that bridge. Tonight, we get to turn the page and finally begin closing the book on the war itself, and return our focus where it belongs: rebuilding our own nation…rebuilding the middle class…to restore the strength and vitality of the middle class which makes this country possible.” Now, here are some excerpts from Obama’s speech. The full transcript is here.
“But this milestone should serve as a reminder to all Americans that our future is ours to shape if we move forward with confidence and commitment. It should also serve as a message to the world that the United States of America intends to sustain and strengthen our leadership in this young century.”
“At every turn, America’s men and women in uniform have served with courage and resolve. As Commander-in-Chief, I am proud of their service. Like all Americans, I am awed by their sacrifice, and by the sacrifices of their families.”
More speech excerpts after the “flip”
“Tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country. This was my pledge to the American people as a candidate for this office. Last February, I announced a plan that would bring our combat brigades out of Iraq, while redoubling our efforts to strengthen Iraq’s Security Forces and support its government and people. That is what we have done. We have removed nearly 100,000 U.S. troops from Iraq. We have closed or transferred hundreds of bases to the Iraqis. And we have moved millions of pieces of equipment out of Iraq.”
“Ending this war is not only in Iraq’s interest – it is in our own. The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people. We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home. We have persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people – a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization. Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it is time to turn the page.”
“Today, our most urgent task is to restore our economy, and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work. To strengthen our middle class, we must give all our children the education they deserve, and all our workers the skills that they need to compete in a global economy. We must jumpstart industries that create jobs, and end our dependence on foreign oil. We must unleash the innovation that allows new products to roll off our assembly lines, and nurture the ideas that spring from our entrepreneurs. This will be difficult. But in the days to come, it must be our central mission as a people, and my central responsibility as President.”