Obama’s ‘Major’ Speech on Arab World Hurt by Lofty Expectations


When you present a speech as a “major” address on an important international issue such as the Arab Spring, you set high expectations. People expect you to say something different, something new, something bold. But President Obama didn’t do any of those things this afternoon. In a nutshell, he reiterated America’s support for democracy and freedom (duh) and focused on the way that economic development can foster them. He restated his obvious opposition to repressive dictators and violence against peaceful protesters. He warned Syria and Iran to behave themselves. He wants Israel and Palestine to agree to a peaceful two-state solution; his proclamation that they should adhere to 1967 borders, while the most newsworthy part of the speech because of its clarity and definitiveness, wasn’t really a new position for the United States. And … that was about it. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a speech like that, but it didn’t require the build up that it was given. If we hadn’t been told that this was a major speech, we probably wouldn’t have considered it one on our own. But after so much hype, people are bound to be let down by more of the usual, and you can see some of that in the reaction from the punditry.

Andrew Sullivan, Daily Dish/Daily Beast:

James Jay Carafano, Corner/National Review:

Ed Morrissey, Hot Air:

Jeffrey Goldberg, Atlantic:

David Ignatius , PostPartisan/Washington Post:

Jackson Diehl, PostPartisan/Washington Post:

Max Boot, Contentions/Commentary:

And from Twitter:

Mark Knoller, CBS News:

Michelle Malkin:

Glenn Thrush, Politico:

David Frum, Frum Forum:

Shadi Hamid, Brookings Institution:

Ben Wedeman, CNN: