If you look a few posts below, you will find the text of President Bush’s powerful and moving speech to the Knesset today. In the course of it, he says something very general:
Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.
Bush here is arguing in very broad brush against a generally meliorist view of foreign policy — one, moreover, that is held by many people who work inside his own government. For some reason, people who work for the almost-certain nominee of the Democratic party have decided that Bush was attacking him. As Kate Phillips writes on the New York Times website:
In a telephone interview on CNN just a few minutes ago, Robert Gibbs, the communications director for Senator Barack Obama, called Mr. Bush’s remarks “astonishing” and an “unprecendented political attack on foreign soil.”
An “unprecedented attack on foreign soil”? That is completely deranged. Not only did Bush not mention Obama by name, it is doubtful he or his people were thinking about Obama. The argument that negotiating with terrorists is appeasement akin to Europe’s appeasement of Hitler is a standard view among hawks on the Right — decades old, dating back even before Barry Obama found the audacity to hope in the pews of Jeremiah Wright’s church. It is exactly the sort of thing a man with Bush’s politics would say in a speech before the Knesset, whether Obama had run for president or not.
The Obama campaign has even issued a statement on the matter in Obama’s name:
It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence to launch a false political attack. It is time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran and failed to secure America or our ally Israel. Instead of tough talk and no action, we need to do what Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan did and use all elements of American power – including tough, principled, and direct diplomacy – to pressure countries like Iran and Syria. George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the President’s extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel.
I’m not sure what this all says about Obama. Is this smart politics, getting his base riled up on his behalf? Is he trying to use Bush as a wedge to make the case to the Jewish community in the United States that the bad man in the White House is mischaracterizing him and therefore Jews should like him more? Is he trying, for the millionth time, to rule any criticism of himself out of reasonable bounds by complaining about something that isn’t even criticism of him?
Or is this just another example of Obama’s thin-skinned-ness?