I usually don't like to inflict my personal life on the reader but for those who are new to Pundita-land, Bush Major Speech Night is right up there in my pain index with a root canal. This is because BMSN always means that John Batchelor will solicit opinion from both Katrina vanden Heuvel and Michael Vlahos.
Pundita adores her husband* but Katrina drives me up a wall because she's always waiting for the return of 1968. And Vlahos is Pundita's arch nemesis.
The worst part is that after years of suffering through his lectures on Islam and how poorly the Bush administration grasps the Islam Renavatio, I actually understand what Vlahos is saying. However, my position is very simple:
Do not say, "Please understand me" while holding me at gunpoint. Above all do not say, "Please understand me" while expecting me to foot the bill.
People have written to ask Pundita what really transpired at Crawford between President Bush and Crown Prince Abdullah. It boiled down to Bush asking how it's possible to blow a zillion dollars and be unable to account for it, and Abdullah saying in parting, "Oh did I mention the Middle East is running out of water?"
One way or another, kicking and screaming, every Muslim on this planet is going to leave the 14th Century and confront what is here now. No more excuses and especially not the excuse that you're working through your stuff about religion. That's the oldest excuse in the 900 Lazy Bastards Book of Excuses. "Sorry I can't plow the field I have to go start a new sect."
Where was I? Vlahos. My biggest problem with him is really my fault. At least Batchelor manages to rein in Vlahos but one night while Batchelor was on vacation, Monica Crowley and Eric Shawn ran the show while Vlahos held forth. Vlahos hypnotized them with his erudition. When they were sufficiently dazed he intoned, "We must come to understand the Arabs because if we don't they're coming after us."
Pundita was sitting on the patio at that moment. I burst out, "Vlahos is on the moon!"
The next thing I heard came from a corner of the back yard. It was the youngest raccoon asking, "Why is Vlahos on the moon?"
One problem with moderns is that we tend to indulge too much the questions of children because there is no end to it once they start down a road. This is how it came to pass that Vlahos The Mighty Borg Killer is this very night pinned down at the moon's Montes Carpathus Ridge and awaiting reinforcements.
The strange thing is that they rarely miss a Vlahos Night on Batchelor. Even if I'm inside the house in the dead of winter, I hear scratching at the garage door and the plea to listen to their hero. Or maybe it's Bush Major Speech Night they sense coming.
All this is by way of saying it's going to take me at least two days to recover before I can plumb the Bush speech. This said, Pundita will probably produce the same analysis she has for every other Bush speech relating to the war:
Whatever makes CENTCOM happy; if they are happy with the speech then whatever Bush said, it's fine. Just keep on killing the enemy.
But for the benefit of readers who would like a more nuanced analysis, Marc Schulman of American Future has pulled my irons out of the fire by sending me his take on the speech. Pundita herself will read Marc's analysis after we've recovered from a Batchelor double whammy night and spinning a yarn.
* Russia scholar Stephen Cohen
9:45 AM Bruce weighs in with an analysis of the speech:
"Pundita, the problem, as I see it, is that bottom-line Bush:
1. Is being dragged into the sort of series of defensive speeches like Johnson was;
2. Should put the ball squarely back in the court of the critics by saying explicitly:
'After much sacrifice we won the war within SVN, only to see it tossed away by those who cut off aid and broke promises. And they want to do it again.'
Then we'll have a real debate, and win, over which side the critics are really on. They'll howl and rationalize, but lose to the common sense of the American people.
Bruce Kesler ChFC REBC RHU CLU