Before delivering the “bestest speech on war” Obama wanted to insure good coverage so he invited some pundits to lunch

White House stewards served the president and his guests a three-course meal featuring a well-cooked Chesapeake striped bass and mango sorbet. There was wine, too, but no one imbibed. Some reporters scribbled notes in moleskin books; at least two recorded the session with their iPhones; one pecked away at his computer.

Amongst the attendees were

There were some attendees today who write extensively on foreign policy, such as Joe Klein (Time), Fareed Zakaria (Newsweek/ CNN), and Tom Friedman (NY Times).

And Marc Ambinder who gave us the menu and some of the other gushing authors of today. Because as Ambinder reports, the attendees agreed to “embargo the news” until after the speech (not to steal the host’s thunder, I guess)

As for the host, he was careful enough to have his side out. According to Ambinder

Before Obama arrived, a White House aide placed five separate audio recorders in front of the president. Two of his aides took copious notes.

So, praise only, m’key?

Someone who liked most of what he heard but probably had no invitation to lunch was Bill Krystol:

By mid-2010, Obama will have more than doubled the number of American troops in Afghanistan since he became president; he will have empowered his general, Stanley McChrystal, to fight the war pretty much as he thinks necessary to in order to win; and he will have retroactively, as it were, acknowledged that he and his party were wrong about the Iraq surge in 2007 — after all, the rationale for this surge is identical to Bush’s, and the hope is for a similar success. He will also have embraced the use of military force as a key instrument of national power.

What’s not to like for a neocon?

Also praise without striped bass from these guys

Bush Officials, RNC Praise Obama’s Afghan Knowledge And Surge Strategy

especially him:

Appearing on NBC’s “Today Show” Tuesday morning, Karl Rove said that if reports of a 30,000-plus-troop surge were true, it constituted “a definitive action.””And if the president does do that, I’ll be among the first to stand up and applaud,” Rove said.

while at the NYT Obama’s attempts to appease his base are spurned too through the voice of a Bush advisor

His message is “heavily laced with language aimed at mollifying his base, which is strongly antiwar, rather than reassuring the middle and those who support the war now,” said Peter D. Feaver, a Duke University specialist on wartime public opinion and a former Bush adviser. “It’s a triangulation heavy on trying to win over the people who probably can’t be won over. And a lot of that messaging could sow doubts.”

And he could be right. CJ posted this gem in the comments on my previous entry – found in B0botland

Obama: “We Did Not Ask for This Fight”
Bush: “We Did Not Seek This Conflict”
Obama: “New Attacks are Being Plotted as I Speak”
Bush: “At This Moment … Terrorists are Planning New Attacks”
Obama: “Our Cause is Just, Our Resolve Unwavering”
Bush: “Our Cause is Just, Our Coalition Determined”
Obama: “This Is No Idle Danger, No Hypothetical Threat”
Bush: “The Enemies of Freedom Are Not Idle”
Obama: “We Have No Interest in Occupying Your Country”
Bush: “I Wouldn’t Be Happy if I Were Occupied Either”