The reviews for the president’s big commencement speech at West Point have not been kind. Even the New York Times editorial page experienced ennui.
But then, don’t we all have commencement ennui this time of year?
Be yourself, follow your dreams, learn from your mistakes, eat sensibly, and drive safely on the way home. That last point being the most important piece of advice, statistically speaking.
The president’s problem was that he overcompensated and packed his speech with substance. I listened on the radio and I wondered if the tepid applause was due to the placement of the microphone, but as it turns out, no, it was that the lack of clapping.
The speech was boring and they were bored.
It was the president in his professor role, explaining that decisions about war need to be taken seriously and deliberated carefully, explaining that we can’t rush into military adventures without examining the cost; and that we have to build international support and legitimacy.
And the cadets are thinking, “I did a million pushups in my underwear to build international support and legitimacy?”
The president tried to ride the philosophical coattails of General Eisenhower’s West Point address in which he said, “War is mankind’s most tragic and stupid folly.”
But of course, Eisenhower could afford to get philosophical, having just accepted the unconditional surrender of our enemies.
Today, a lot of people think America is weak.
But we’re not, of course. There isn’t a nation on earth that would dream of confronting us in a fight to protect American territory – no matter who sits in the White House. Which is why our enemies will try to sneak in the back door, as happened on 9/11, or through our computers, and why, like it or not, we will have to confront them there. Even though it makes for a lousy speech.