Not too heavy on the America-bashing while heavy on the idealism. He even expressed some patriotism and defended his nation a bit. Most of the press will probably focus on the impact and reaction from Israel and Iran but by and large he was going after the rational moderates, which is a good plan.
The speech was well-written and well-delivered. Obama weirdly does not come off as an American president but more a world president, sort of like a super UN Secretary General.
No Obama speech, no matter how idealistic, would be complete without a Bush bash and indeed he got it in early by reminding everyone how terrible the 'war of choice' was in Iraq, a line of reason that garnered much applause. Yet few reacted when he briefly mentioned how the demise of Saddam was a net positive for the Iraqi people. We've certainly come a long way since the tough rhetoric of the 90s--Clinton demonized Saddam, Bush took him out, now Obama is denying there was ever a threat. And the world turns.
Many of the themes Obama used were previously tried by Bush but Barack sounds better due to his superior gift of gab combined with modern teleprompter technology. He took a page from the Bush doctrine when he said, "America will stand with those who stand for peace". Hey that's almost like saying "either you're with us or with the terrorists", though the liberals will probably not see it that way.
Some nitpicky things. For instance, Obama likes to connect by using local words or pronunciations, such as 'Pockeeston', 'al Qaa eee dah', the 'Tolly bon' and the 'Korr rhan' and 'Cordoba' (add the rolling r's). At one point while describing the Quranic meeting between Muhammad, Jesus and Abraham he followed it by saying "peace be upon them", almost as if lapsing back into his days in 'In doughnesia' as a 'Moose lum'. Some may recall him lapsing into a black preacher brogue on the campaign trail. This could suggest a psychological issue that I'm not qualified to diagnose but it's somewhere between a need for acceptance to sheer flim-flam.
Don't misunderstand--the speech idea is fine and perhaps essential. He's acting on our behalf by trying to parlay his Arab-African roots into real regional change with the goal of doing what no previous president has been able to do--defusing the region. His shiny international transformative status has given him enormous political capital and what better way to use it than by marginalizing despots and thugs, which theoretically makes it harder for them to bash America to cover their own ineptitude. More importantly, he's trying to grab the hearts and minds of young Arabs away from the fundamentalist murderers, which would be the goal of any American president.
Still, it was only a speech. Some might even say it was a tad pompous since Obama has a habit of detaching himself from things, sort of floating above the fray to point out everyone's faults. No doubt his words will spark anger in some quarters, and sometimes the hornets come out when the nest is disturbed. So it's risky to set himself up as a miracle man if hopenchange fails to have the desired affect towards actual change, such as with a Palestinian state.
But despite the negatives it's worth the risk right now due to our precarious financial position and the stalemated wars. We only have one president. The deficits aren't improving and will never improve without progress and we can't sustain two wars indefinitely. So long as he keeps his word and maintains military pressure to accompany his soft power it may give us an opening to make some things happen quicker, and that's good. We should never bash a man for wanting peace and a better world--only in the way he approaches it.
Some are going to see the above as an example of selling out or being manipulated. I hope not. Allow me to explain where I'm coming from.
Aside from the Bush bashes I expected a rasher of moral equivalencies in this speech. It's the way many liberals handle conflict management and is rooted in the notion of absolute fairness. Over here we see liberals continually proposing that it's not fair for people to succeed past others in life, leading to a spread the wealth mentality, a kernel of socialism. When conflicts arise they immediately see both sides, often to the point of moral insanity. So it's unsurprising he'd make comparisons between say women in Saudi who can't drive and pay disparity in America.
Therefore my interest was more in anything bad he said about the "Muslim World" and indeed he did make some dents. "We will stand with those who stand for peace" stands out. He didn't say what he'd do with those who don't, perhaps intentionally, but how is it much different than the Bush doctrine aside from rhetoric? What else can we hope for?
That said, my fear of a backlash should things go wrong remains high. Right now some may even consider him an apostate.
An example of the practical impacts of using subterfuge to reach an end. Somebody should ask the president or Gibbs whether they considered this reaction when writing the speech.
The Iraq section was the worst part was the speech in my opinion. Others might disagree, but as I said above, Obama cannot give a national security speech without reminding everyone how superior his judgment was on Iraq--even if it means a sidelong smack on his own Vice President and Secretary of State as well as the 42nd president. It's bizarre and one has to wonder what the practical point of such a line of strategy is or whether he's just puppeting liberal boilerplate from message boards. It's beginning to look like the latter. As we see, 'just words' can have an impact. I'm beginning to seriously re-think the silver lining I initially saw in this speech.