Was that the worst speech ever delivered by a U.S. president? Maybe not—our knowledge of 226 years worth of presidential oratory is less than comprehensive—but no rival comes to mind.
Rather than enumerate every flaw of Barack Obama’s defense of his Iran deal yesterday, we’d like to look deeply at the most glaring one, namely this passage:
Just because Iranian hard-liners chant “Death to America” does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe.
In fact, it’s those hard-liners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It’s those hard-liners chanting “Death to America” who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus.
Unsurprisingly, that partisan smear, vicious even by Obama’s standards, has drawn a good deal of comment from the right.
And the left looked away, minimizing what the president charged.
Dissent was once patriotic, the left said. No more.
The most glaring flaw is not the slam against his opponents. We know to expect that by now. Despite his promises.
The most glaring flaw is that the president says this is a good deal. The president's speech was as bad as the deal. That will hurt far more than any words the president uses.
UPDATE: I've long written here that I am not without sympathy for the difficulties and tough choices that President Obama has to make. It's an extremely tough job for even the best.
But my sympathy for him is directly related to how long it has been since I've heard him speak about a subject. The Iran deal speech is the most egregious example yet of why his speeches destroy any build up of my sympathy.
UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg (in his G-File email) put it well:
For reasons I will get to in a moment, this was an absolutely terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. So I couldn’t get my normal Friday column done yesterday. That was particularly vexing because it was on Obama’s Iran speech, which I thought was not only bad, but outrageous. It was petulant, small, nasty, partisan, wildly hypocritical, and dishonorable in almost every regard. People who celebrated it should be ashamed of themselves. And the press’s ho-hum reporting on it as if it were just another presidential speech is a searing indictment of not just their news judgment but their partisanship.
The president of the United States said critics of the Iran deal were finding common cause with a murderous Iranian regime -- a regime that he has coddled, accommodated, and apologized for time and again. He imputed to his domestic political opponents a none-too-vague whiff of cowardice, dual loyalty, and dishonor. In vintage Obama mode, he condemned the partisanship of his critics while delivering a searing partisan attack. He once again bragged about his opposition to the Iraq War while denigrating all those who supported it -- including both of his secretaries of state and his vice president -- as if that proves the rightness of everything he does. But this time he went further, basically suggesting that if you don’t support this deal, you are rewarding this evil fifth column in our midst. It was disgusting.
Last, he threatened that if you don’t support his deal, it will mean war.
This is a lie. First of all, if Congress votes down the deal tomorrow, who here believes that Obama will say, “Well, we have no choice now. We have to go to war.”
Who here believes that the people cheering his speech as powerful and impressive will apply its logic if it fails? Will David Axelrod -- who loved the speech, of course -- suddenly say, “Diplomacy has failed, alas. Now we have no choice but to bomb Iran.”?
They are fear-mongering and lying while denouncing their opponents as fear-mongerers and liars.
They are dishonestly threatening war because war is the only option less preferable than this unbelievably bad deal. It’s a magic-beans deal, minus the magic. It’s the equivalent of giving the Clintons millions in exchange for Mrs. Clinton attending your wedding.
It was the most shameful presidential speech on foreign policy in my lifetime. Shame on him and his fans.
UPDATE: Here's Jonah's column. It's well worth it to sign up for his early email of it.