Bush Speech: Thumbs Up, And Down

Marine Cpl. Chase Krebbs, 22, of Houston, seen here on 6-28-05 watching the Bush speech near Camp Pendleton at the Beachcomber Barbershop in Oceanside, Calif., approves of the president's refusal to set a timetable to bring the troops home from Iraq. "I'm a Marine," says Krebbs. "That's why I joined, to do this stuff, to serve and protect."
President Bush's Tuesday night speech to the nation assessing the war in Iraq won approval from Republicans and GIs who agree there should be no timetable for bringing home the troops. Democratic critics, weighing in with their reaction, say GIs deserve a plan for success and the Bush plan on Iraq is short on specifics.

Many soldiers at bases around the U.S. reacted with approval to the "stay the course" message of President Bush's Tuesday night speech, given at Fort Bragg, N.C., and broadcast nationally on the first anniversary of sovereignty being turned over to Iraq's new government.

In Killeen, Texas, near Fort Hood, Sergeant Chuck Crawley, 25, said America's job in Iraq is unfinished because in his words, the people of Iraq "ain't liberated."

He predicted U.S. forces won't be able to return home until Iraq has a stable police force, Army and government.

Cpl. James Anderson, 22, said he welcomed Bush's refusal to set a timetable for bringing the troops home from Iraq.

"Like any Marine, you do the job until it's done. You don't just do it halfway and leave," said Anderson, a Houston native who said he was scheduled to leave for Iraq soon.

Fellow Houston native Cpl. Chase Krebbs, 22, agreed.

"I'm a Marine. That's why I joined, to do this stuff, to serve and protect," Krebbs said.

GOP leaders on Capitol Hill were quick to praise the Bush speech and the president's assessment of the war in Iraq.

"As we mark the first anniversary of Iraqi sovereignty, we must remember that 25 million people have been liberated and now enjoy the promise of both freedom and self-determination," says House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. "Democrat leaders may call that a 'grotesque mistake,' but I call it a humanitarian miracle, and I thank the president for his leadership in fighting this war."

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was less impressed by Mr. Bush's words.

"The American people now know that the war in Iraq is not making our country safer," says Pelosi. "Let's forget the rosy scenarios and the reminders about how tough the job is. Let's not divide our country by saying who's for the troops and who are not. We're all for the troops, and we view our support for the troops to be measured by not only the equipment we give them, the intelligence, but by a level of planning, again, to meet their level of sacrifice."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid says the president's Iraq policy is "adrift." The Nevada Democrat also said staying the course "is neither sustainable nor likely to lead to success."

"The president did not level with the American public," says California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters. "I think the president failed to talk about the real situation in Iraq. He referred to us as winning, when in fact we have soldiers dying every day."

Arkansas Democrat Vic Snyder says the U.S. has no choice but to make things work in Iraq. Otherwise, he says the war will have converted "the police state of Saddam Hussein, into a failed state" where terrorists can thrive.

Political analyst Larry Sabato, of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, says it's unlikely the president will be able to stem growing public uncertainty with a single speech.

Sabato says more and more Americans are starting to see Iraq as "Vietnam without the jungle."

Snyder, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, says the president was right not to set a deadline for pulling out of Iraq.

Democratic foreign policy advisor Wendy Sherman says Mr. Bush offered rhetoric to rally behind the troops - but no specifics on getting them home any time soon.

Sherman, who has served in the State Department, says it's the president's failure to have a plan to deal with insurgents that's allowed Iraq to become a terrorist base.

At a base in Hawaii, Navy pilot Lieutenant Ben Beebe said he and others serving in Iraq will do their jobs and not "second-guess" what's going on.

But Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said: "our soldiers deserve better. They need a plan for success."