New York's three major dailies have delivered editorial verdicts on President Bush's September 13 speech on Iraq, and reaction to the address in the Post, of all places, was vague and dull to the point of being lukewarm. Could it be that the Murdoch machine, which likes nothing so much as a winner, has begun to tire of a president who offers only empty platitudes without resolution to justify his war?
The Post, in its editorial "The Korea Parallel," recognized that the president offered no substantial changes in his policies. Effectively, he will dump the war on the next president---"For better or for worse," the paper concluded. Aside from expressing doubt that any of the presidential candidates can do better than Bush, the Post editorial showed neither enthusiasm for the president's speech nor optimism about Iraq's future.
That contrasts sharply with the Daily News, whose "Challenge to Congress" suggested that it is up to that body to build on what the News sees as the recent achievements of the Bush administration--5,700 troops coming home by Christmas because the combat zone has become more stable. Absent from the News editorial was any sense of the shakiness of that "stability" and evaluation of the utter lack of any long-term Bush plan for Iraq's future--outside of the U.S. staying there for many years to come. Still the News believes that a U.S. victory in Iraq--whatever that means--is still a possibility.
The Times editorial, "No Exit, No Strategy," recognized the Bush plan post-Petraeus for what it is: "Mr. Bush refuses to recognize the truth of his failure in Iraq and envisions a military commitment that has no end."
Post columnists John Podhoretz and Amir Taheri found more to praise in the president's speech---especially Taheri. And that's to be expected in a paper that has been so predictably supportive of the president. But the Post's editorial lacked the fire that you expect from a Murdoch paper. It's worth watching to see if this editorial is a one-time yawn or a sign of impatience with the president.