big_zzz.jpgThe President’s tactics were flawed. It was a good idea, positioning himself as commander on the stage at West Point, as if he were announcing an order of battle in Afghanistan to the 4,600 cadets, which they would have understood and appreciated. But the President had to make it a policy speech, too, and it was not at all a good idea to ask the cadets, at the end of a typical Tuesday at West Point, to pay attention to a policy speech. At least two cadets were observed to be dozing, and who can blame them?

Also observable was a disconnect between old and new communications. The President’s organization used the new communications expertly during the presidential campaign, using the reach of the Internet to build youth constituencies. Tonight, though, that expertise was not on view. The new communications would have connected most effectively with the cadets. Instead, they were subjected to the old communications, broadcast television, which is the same as sitting at a railroad crossing while the train goes by, until the rail car you wanted to see comes into view.

Better if the President had flown to Afghanistan, made the speech in a hangar there through an online feed, watched by the cadets online (with plenty of television images of them in their quarters, studying and watching), and by the U.S. television audience watching the President’s online image. In war and peace, it’s a revolutionary new communications age, and tonight the dozing cadets understood that better than the President and his people.

MICHAEL GRANT
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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • keelaay

    Your worried about style over the substance of committing another 30,000 troops to a deadly war in Afghanistan? I don’t give a darn where or to whom he gave the speech. Its trivial compared to the decision.

  • kathykattenburg

    This is really a foolish post, for the reason keelaay gave, but also because it isn’t really even accurate. I saw those dozing cadets too — there were less than a handful, and I did not take it to be a sign of disrespect at all. These are college students, and they were exhausted! They would have been exhausted any time Obama would have given the speech, unless you wanted him to give it on Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

    Moreover, as I said, only a *few* students looked like they had fallen asleep. The strongest impression I got when the camera panned over the audience was of unbelievably intense and single-minded concentration and focus on what the president was saying. A sea of students were looking straight at him, seemingly not even blinking, totally still, listening to him. I even thought to myself how I couldn’t believe how straight and tall they were sitting, and I joked to myself, well I guess that’s the military posture. I mean, I certainly could never sit still for 45 minutes like that.

    One more thing. One of the students that the camera closed in on — clearly because he was so compelling — was this student in camouflage fatigues (forgive me if that isn’t the right term). He was dressed like a soldier in combat, not in dress uniform like the others. As the camera closed in on him, and the shot got tighter and tighter, I was just gripped by his expression. He looked absolutely haunted. He looked like he had seen things no human being should see. As a mother with a daughter around that age, I wanted to hug him and tell him it would be all right. Didn’t you notice *him,* Michael?

  • DdW

    “At least two cadets were observed to be dozing, and who can blame them?”Out of a corps of 4,000 cadets, many of them who have had only three or four hours sleep for weeks on as part of their rigorous training?I remember falling asleep standing up in class during my officer candidate training, after nights and days of 24/7 harassment–I mean training. Did that reflect badly on my instructors? I would say, no.Is this what we are going to base our analysis of the president’s address to the nation on our country getting drawn further into war?ZZZZZzzzzz

  • JSpencer

    That’s some pretty weak tea you’re brewing there Michael. The comments here show you why.

  • DLS

    The speech contained fluff and prattle, as I’ve written before. But it has to be added that this campaign-style and spectacle was a bad, not a good, idea. A press conference would have been more appropriate, and even that wasn’t in any way “necessary” — a press release and a conference (the standard one) run by Gibbs would have been fine.