COMMANDERS TO CADETS: MAKE SOME NOISE … PLEASE
Posted by Andrew Roman on December 2, 2009
I’m sure they tried.
They were told to make it sound good.
It couldn’t have been easy – perhaps as difficult as any task these cadets will ever face as members of the United States military, including combat. It isn’t clear whether they were blatantly disobeying orders or were simply unable to beckon the fortitude needed to fake it.
In theory, cadets shouldn’t have to be reminded to greet their own Commander-in-Chief warmly, but they were.
Maybe this pre-speech prompting is standard procedure for every President who comes to speak at the United States Military Academy. If so, it is interesting to note that the cadets had no problem whatsoever responding eagerly to George W. Bush when he spoke there.
The fact is, the audience at last night’s Afghanistan-policy speech by President Obama was a touch on the quiet side.
One or two in the audience even dozed off.
In an opinion piece from Spiegel Online, Gabor Steingart writes:
Never before has a speech by President Barack Obama felt as false as his Tuesday address announcing America’s new strategy for Afghanistan. It seemed like a campaign speech combined with Bush rhetoric — and left both dreamers and realists feeling distraught.
One can hardly blame the West Point leadership. The academy commanders did their best to ensure that Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama’s speech would be well-received.
Just minutes before the president took the stage inside Eisenhower Hall, the gathered cadets were asked to respond “enthusiastically” to the speech. But it didn’t help: The soldiers’ reception was cool.
One didn’t have to be a cadet on Tuesday to feel a bit of nausea upon hearing Obama’s speech. It was the least truthful address that he has ever held. He spoke of responsibility, but almost every sentence smelled of party tactics. He demanded sacrifice, but he was unable to say what it was for exactly.
The audience’s most enthusiastic responses came toward the end of the speech when the President (somehow) managed to shift focus away from himself and the obligatory blame-Bush-for-everything gabble and actually spoke of his own country in positive terms, brief as it was.
Otherwise, Obama’s “pre-surrender” strategy drew fairly apathetic feedback.