Although a veteran of the college lecture circuit, President Obama’s speech at West Point may have marked the first time he has ever spoken at an institution of higher learning that actually educates. Alas, he was not up to the challenge. He may want to go back to Georgetown .
During the dog days of Vietnam, President Lyndon Johnson could only give speeches on military bases. President Obama is reaching the point where he can only give speeches on college campuses, at least those that don’t train military officers.
The president went to West Point to announce his long-awaited decision to send 30,000 U. S. troops to Afghanistan next year. In the three months in which he mulled over this decision, prompted by his military advisor’s request for 10,000 more soldiers than the commander-in-chief plans to deliver, U. S. forces in Afghanistan have racked up 116 casualties, the Cybercast News Service  reported, 58 in October alone.
The audience of cadets was too polite to shout, “Obama didn’t decide, kids died.” They also gracefully did not correct his mangling of military history.
The president said that he took seriously the lessons of Vietnam when U. S. forces faced a popular uprising. He would.
Well, perhaps the uprising was as popular as Soviet-backed forces with guns ever got. For the part of the Vietnam story the president left out, watch Accuracy in Media’s documentary, Television’s Vietnam.
When General Douglas MacArthur gave his farewell address at West Point, he said “In the evening of my memory, my thoughts go drifting back to The Corps, The Corps, The Corps.” Let’s hope that in the evening of their memory, this year’s cadets’ thoughts do not go drifting back to Tuesday night’s speech.
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia .