Yesterday morning, former Bush adviser Karl Rove went on NBC’s Today Show and said that if President Obama decides to send 30,000-35,000 troops to Afghanistan, he would be “among the first to stand up and applaud.” Watch it:
Immediately after President Obama’s prime-time address last night — in which he announced that he would be deploying 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan — Rove went on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor and responded. However, he definitely didn’t “stand up and applaud.” Instead, he and O’Reilly bashed the President for underperforming (although he acknowledged that the “core” of Obama’s message was acceptable). Some highlights of their comments:
— O’REILLY: I did not see a Winston Churchill-type performance. … Summing up, the president’s speech tonight was OK but not exactly the Gettysburg Address.
— ROVE: I mean, I think he might need a new teleprompter with some Energizer bunny batteries in it. You know, look, at the core of tonight was good news, but it was badly delivered in a — you know, in a weak frame.
— ROVE: And the enemy knows that we’re going to send one quarter less troops than was requested by the military commander. And then for him to say, In 18 months I’m going to start withdrawing those people. That says to me — that sends a very — very bad signal to the enemy that you can wait us out.
— O’REILLY: But, look, the problem with Barack Obama, I think, is becoming increasingly clear. Not even — not just on Afghanistan but on a whole — a whole other bunch of issues. He’s an academic. … Where is the table pounding?
O’REILLY: But, for now, the president should be as tough as he can be. And I didn’t see that tonight. Did you? I did not see a Winston Churchill-type performance. The president was slick, but did he rally the world to fight the horrendous Taliban? I don’t think so, but I could be wrong.
Summing up, the president’s speech tonight was OK but not exactly the Gettysburg Address. And that’s The Memo.
Now for the top story: the best analysis anywhere. We begin with FOX News analyst Karl Rove, who’s in Philadelphia tonight.
You know, there wasn’t the sense of urgency that you would expect from a wartime commander saying, Look, these are bad guys. We’re fighting evil.
He didn’t define the evil. He didn’t get emotional. He didn’t put any urgency behind his words, like if we lose, this is going to lead to more bloodshed around the world. Let’s wise up, everybody and get in there and win it.
I didn’t see any of that. It was more like an academic speech.
KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS ANALYST: Well, it was tired. And you’re right. I mean, I think he might need a new teleprompter with some Energizer bunny batteries in it.
You know, look, at the core of tonight was good news, but it was badly delivered in a — you know, in a weak frame. And, you know, I appreciate what he did. The core of it was We’re going to surge in Afghanistan like we did in Iraq. I’m going to send 30 of the 40,000 troops that McChrystal requested.
But, you know, reading the background briefing of the president’s aides today to the press corps at West Point, I got more information about what they intended to do and how they intended to do it than I got from the president in his speech. […]
He did not rally the country. He did not explain the stakes. He did not explain how he intends to do this. He did not — it was just the high points. I’m going to send 30 to 40,000 more troops. They’re going to go over there and do something really important. And then I’m going to start withdrawing them in 18 months.
O’REILLY: I don’t begrudge him that. I don’t begrudge him the withdrawing, though. Because I think the Afghans have to step up. […]
ROVE: But, look, here’s the point. We are where we are today, and the question is does it serve America’s strategic interests for the president of the United States to say, I’m going to surgeon these additional troops there. And the enemy knows that we’re going to send one quarter less troops than was requested by the military commander.
And then for him to say, In 18 months I’m going to start withdrawing those people. That says to me — that sends a very — very bad signal to the enemy that you can wait us out. And when he ended on that note, that boy, we’ve got to worry about our economy and about America and coming back and taking care of things here. Look, we’re not the only people watching and paying attention to that speech. That strikes a very isolationist note.
O’REILLY: That was a softy to the left.
ROVE: Undermine America’s credibility.
O’REILLY: That was a sop to the left. There’s no question that that line was put in there, as you pointed out, to calm his left-wing supporters down.
But, look, the problem with Barack Obama, I think, is becoming increasingly clear. Not even — not just on Afghanistan but on a whole — a whole other bunch of issues. He’s an academic.
You know, we saw a very charismatic, energized guy on the campaign trail. He’s vanished. You know, the guy in New Hampshire that was storming the beaches of Clintondom and kicking those walls down, he’s gone. He’s back to being an academic. That was like a classroom dissertation, where half — I thought half the cadets were going to fall asleep. I mean, where is — where is the table pounding: Hey, these people cut your head off. Hey, these people won’t let women out of the house; they can’t go to school. These are savages. Look what they did, and they’ll do it again? Where was that? Where was that?
ROVE: There was — there was no passion there. And there was also this sort of — these bland statements of things that are simply not true. When he said, for example, that we have established a new relationship in the Muslim world this year because of his presence in the White House, I thought to myself, what kind of new relationship do we have in the Muslim world?