Post Hoc Clarification
Okay, one last thing on Edwards' speech. I got to talk to one of Edwards' advisors after the speech and he clarified to me that some of what I felt the speech was missing wasn't actually "missing" per se. Rather, it's going to be in a different speech. Michael Signer's blog post here lays out the concept, which I hadn't understood going in:
This speech is the second in a five-part cycle of speeches in which Senator Edwards explains his vision of renewing America's moral authority and our leadership of the world. The cycle began two months ago, when he presented a major speech about how to solve global poverty. Today, he's presenting a military and national security policy that will explain how we can rebuild the military from the Bush years, so our strength will support our moral leadership of the world in a new century of new challenges. This Friday, he'll talk about restoring our sacred contract with our veterans, servicemen and women, and military families. And in the coming months, he'll complete the cycle with two more major speeches. The fourth speech will be on civil liberties, and how America can stay stronger by respecting the rule of law and human rights. The fifth and final speech will provide his overarching foreign policy vision for the challenges of the coming years, including a rising China and India, an increasingly undemocratic Russia, spreading nuclearization, and the Middle East. Together, the five speeches will comprise an overarching vision for an America that is at once strong, secure, and just--that once again is a moral leader for the world.
In short, the speech was strongest on military reform issues because that's what the speech was supposed to be about and we'll have to wait for the fifth and final speech to hear about the "overarching foreign policy vision."