Douthat is glib:
Broadly speaking, it struck me as one of Obama’s least effective speeches. I can’t imagine any anti-war liberal being convinced to favor escalation by his arguments. I can’t imagine any pro-escalation conservative feeling confident that Obama is really committed to the effort he’s embarking on. And above all, I can’t imagine any up-in-the-air, uncertain American being reassured that we have a military strategy capable of delivering a successful outcome because Obama barely seemed to talk about military strategy at all.
Gerald F. Seib spins this Peter Wehner post as supportive of Obama because Wehner, like much of the right, agrees with the underlying policy. A sample from one of the more forgiving reviews of Obama's speech:
[O]ne cannot help but get the sense that Obama is dealing with Afghanistan only with great reluctance, that he views it as an unwelcome distraction from his domestic agenda. He does not seem to view this war in the context of any great cause, whether it is the liberation of captive peoples or prevailing against men of almost unimaginable cruelty and malevolence. The president came across last night as clinical and detached, somewhat distant and weary. He seemed to be reporting to the nation rather than trying to rally it. You do not sense that this is a man whose heart has been touched by fire.
NRO has run an editorial in favor of withdrawing from Afghanistan by John R. Miller. He defends the Iraq war at the same time:
We did not start the conflict in Afghanistan. The Taliban
and al-Qaeda did. We punished them. We overthrew their government. These were reasonable, attainable, low-risk objectives. Setting up a Taliban-free government in Afghanistan let alone the peaceful and democratic one that may be necessary to achieve this objective will be costly, unlikely, and focused on a country in no way strategic to us. And, just as important, a substantially increased effort including the half-hearted, almost-no-chance-of-success Obama initiative will just make it more dishonorable to withdraw later and lead to greater loss of credibility when we do so.
Only Kristol seems chipper:
Obama is now saying: We're surging and fighting for the next 18 months; see you in July 2011. That's about as good as we were going to get.