Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan has an interesting post up regarding the optics of Obama's speech last night. Here's a snippet:
They ought to go back to giving major addresses in the Oval Office, because it has a mystique and stature that it lends to those who sit at the big desk. The president's staffers apparently think the Oval is tired, or insufficiently groovy, or something. They have him stand at a podium and talk into an empty room under Bela Lugosi lighting. The groovelocity of this choice is lost on me.
Groovelocity is a tremendous word.
Noonan's points about substance strike me as generally on-target. She writes:
He should have canceled the speech. It was halfhearted, pro forma and strange. It added nothing, did not deepen or advance the story, was not equal to the atmosphere surrounding it, and gave no arguments John Kerry hasn't made, often more forcefully, in the past 10 days.
It was a time filler: The White House had asked for the time and had to fill it. But at this point in the president's Syria drama an indifferent piece of work only underscores the overall impression that things just aren't working that well in the White House.
It is hard to believe a lot of people watched. It's hard to believe hearts were changed.
That last point is certainly true: Nobody's mind was changed by Obama simply repeating points that he's made a thousand times in a thousand different ways. It doesn't even rise to the level of anti-climax.
It's fitting that he gave the speech on the same day that Apple introduced its underwhelming new iteration of the iPhone. What both announcements had in common was a shared lack of any serious forward movement, a sense of at-least-mild exhaustion, and no clarity on what comes next.
Watch "4 Takeaways from Obama's Speech on Syria" (1.37 minutes):