Aug 31, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
(THE DAILY CALLER) Barack Obama was greeted with fleeting applause and extended periods of silence as he offered profuse praise to soldiers and their families during an Aug. 31 speech in Fort Bliss, Texas.
His praise for the soldiers — and for his own national-security policies — won cheers from only a small proportion of the soldiers and families in the cavernous aircraft-hanger.
The audience remains quiet even when the commander-in-chief thanked the soldiers’ families, and cited the 198 deaths of their comrades in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The audience’s reaction was so flat that the president tried twice to elicit a reaction from the crowd.
“Hey, I hear you,” he said amid silence.
The selected soldiers who were arrayed behind the president sat quietly throughout the speech.
CNN and MSNBC ended their coverage of the speech before it was half-over.The president’s speech to the soldiers is part of his constitutional duties as commander-in-chief.
But Obama and his wife are also trying to reach out to military families in several critical swing-states, including Virginia and FloridaThat outreach, however, has been damaged by repeated flubs from the White House, including its public emphasis on soldiers’ wounds rather than on their accomplishments, and Obama’s effort to distance himself from the anti-jihad campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For example, Obama gave Vice President Joe Biden the task of developing a post-war agreement with Iraq’s government in 2009. The effort failed, reducing U.S. gains from the campaign that killed almost 4,500 troops, and as well as thousands of jihadis and Sunni insurgents seeking to regain power. The subsequent withdrawal of nearly all U..S. troops has allowed Iran to increase its influence in Iraq. In turn, that influence helps it support Syria’s dictatorship against Sunni insurgents.
White House officials are trying to avoid additional flubs. On Friday, for example, White House officials rushed to debunk a report that the president had used an autopen to sign condolence letters to soldiers’ families.
Throughout Friday’s speech, the loudest reactions came when the president name-checked the nicknames of the soldiers’ brigades. Major military units have their own rival cheers, and those could be heard from portions of the audience when he referred to individual units.
The troops’ silence continued through several obvious applause-lines.
There was isolated cheers when Obama said his withdrawal policy would ensure “fewer deployments … more time to prepare for the future, and it means more time on the home front, with your families, your home and kids.”
The silence deepened when the president lauded his strategy of withdrawal from the war. “Make no mistake, ending the wars responsibly makes us safer and our military even stronger, and ending these wars is letting us do something else; restoring American leadership,” he said amid complete silence.
When he said demobilized soldiers would find jobs because “all of you have the skills America needs,” he got little reaction.