March 17, 2003

BUSH'S SPEECH: A rather abrupt beginning, as Bush just walked into the frame and started talking. But it was a much better performance than his previous press conference. Bush looked rested, and firm.

The substance was no great surprise. He did a good job of stressing that the problem was the Security Council's unwillingness to enforce previous resolutions, and of noting France's expressed intention to veto regardless of the facts, but without mentioning France by name. Bush continues to be far kinder to his adversaries than they are to him, and he went out of his way to make nice regarding the United Nations. Was that wise? Probably, even if they don't deserve it.

Bush's repetition of promises to produce a free Iraq was good, too, as were his other comments aimed at the Iraqi people and military. Overall, one of Bush's better performances, though that's admittedly not the strongest standard. But it was entirely adequate to the occasion. The big question: if Saddam makes clear that he won't step down, will we start before the 48 hours has expired?

UPDATE: Stephen Green was blogging the speech live.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a transcript. Best line: "The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours."

Max Rosenthal liked the speech.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tacitus has a roundup of reactions.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Roger Abrams emails from Nashville:

Last night I was at the Nashville Predators-Edmonton Oilers (NHL) game. The showed the president's speech on the Jumbotron at the first intermission. Speech greeted with loud cheers and applause in many parts.especially the "we are not fragile" line.

No boos.

I'm not surprised.