As is his wont, President Obama gave a bit darker and very subdued speech. Though there was no expectation that he would refer to any of American Exceptionalism in his speech, it was good to hear his commitment that as a leader of the free world he would continue to lend America's support to human freedom and liberty. As Kristol says, that was good enough.
Charles Krauthammer says that President Obama did not lay down the vision of America's role in the world. That is true, but I am not sure whether President wanted to use this occasion to espouse his didactic for America's leadership in global power structure. On UN forum, while accepting Nobel Prize or a speech in Prague or in Cairo; President Obama has done it in certain sense and I am sure he would do so in future too at appropriate occasions. I thought here the objective was very limited and the idea was to set the parameters for the Afghanistan debate and Middle East peace talks. Also in all probability, no matter what location or occasion, Krauthammer is unlikely to get Obama version of American Exceptionalism since there is no such thing for President Obama. That is futile for Krauthammer to expect.
Rachel Maddow calls the speech remarkably generous to President Bush whereas Roger Simon foolishly chides President Obama for not telling us about the stupidity of Iraq war. What do these commentators expect? A campaign like speech from the Oval Office? Why do Americans need to hear the stupidity of Iraq War from Oval Office? Have not Americans made it clear in their electoral choices in 2008 when they rejected the die hard supporter of Iraq war - Sen. McCain? It is surprising how foolish these commentators can be in not understanding the basic of purpose of an Oval Office Speech - to bring the country together to push it forward. Everything else is partisan rubbish which better be avoided. President Obama did good on that.