Thursday, May 15, 2008

the ink of a scholar is worth a thousand times more than the blood of a martyr

GWBush stepped in some horse doo doo today:
In a speech to Israel's Knesset, Bush said: "Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the 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 I could only have talked to Hitler, all 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."

Of course, his loyal minions claim he wasn't trying to smear Obama:
The White House said Bush's comment wasn't a reference to Obama.

"It is not," press secretary Dana Perino told reporters in Israel. "I would think that all of you who cover these issues and have for a long time have known that there are many who have suggested these types of negotiations with people that the president, President Bush, thinks that we should not talk to. I understand when you're running for office you sometimes think the world revolves around you. That is not always true. And it is not true in this case."

Sure. That's why it was done in the Knesset; Bush can claim that Republicans are better defenderers of Israel. And it's bullshit on so many levels. And who was the genius speechwriter that came up with this? We can't blame Frum for this, I don't think he's that stupid.

Harry Reid has a pretty good take on it:
“Not surprisingly, the engineer of the worst foreign policy in our nation’s history has fired yet another reckless and reprehensible round. More than seven years into his Presidency and in the sixth year of the directionless Iraq war, President Bush has yet to learn that his brand of divisive partisan rhetoric is precisely what has made America and our allies less secure. And for the President to make this statement before the government of our closest ally as it celebrates a remarkable milestone demeans this historic moment with partisan politics.

“President Bush’s own actions demonstrate that he believes negotiations – at the right moment, under the right conditions and with the right leaders – can both show strength and produce results. He has relied on negotiations with North Korea and Libya, two state sponsors of terror. And by conducting discussions with Russia, China, Libya, North Korea and Iran in recent years, President Bush has demonstrated his belief that negotiations can be a tool to advance America and Israel’s national security interests. I call on the President to explain the inconsistency between his Administration’s actions and his words today.”

Obama's response was OK, just OK, but Kevin Drum's take is spot on:
Over in Israel today, George Bush got right down to business and compared Democrats to the Hitler appeasers who sold out Czechoslovakia just before World War II. Barack Obama shot back that this was a "false political attack" and that Bush was a liar.

. . . I still think I would have preferred something like a Reaganesque shake of his head followed by "It's always Munich with these guys, isn't it?" There are times when mockery is the best policy.

And as proof that GWBush's statement is sheer partisan hackery, here's his SecDef just yesterday in the WaPo:
The United States should construct a combination of incentives and pressure to engage Iran, and may have missed earlier opportunities to begin a useful dialogue with Tehran, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said yesterday.

Does this mean he will be reprimanded by Bush? McCain, of course, fellates supports Bush:

Senator John McCain, who has been critical of President Bush on the environment and other policies this week, on Thursday morning wholeheartedly endorsed Mr. Bush’s veiled rebuke in the Israeli Knesset of Senator Barack Obama that talking to “terrorists and radicals'’ was no different than appeasing Hitler and the Nazis.

“Yes, there have been appeasers in the past, and the president is exactly right, and one of them is Neville Chamberlain,'’ Mr. McCain told reporters on his campaign bus after a speech in Columbus, Ohio. “I believe that it’s not an accident that our hostages came home from Iran when President Reagan was president of the United States. He didn’t sit down in a negotiation with the religious extremists in Iran, he made it very clear that those hostages were coming home.'’

Note the obligatory Reagan idolatry. But oft-sensible conservative Andrew Sullivan thinks:
This is manna for the Obama campaign, sent straight from Heaven. Who wouldn't want to run against this president this November? By conflating Bush and McCain on this, the White House has done the Democrats a massive favor.

McCain's invocation of Reagan's vision is pretty myopic. Fred Kaplan in Slate:
Part of the Soviet failure in Afghanistan was due to the fact that the Reagan administration was feeding billions of dollars in arms to Afghanistan's Islamic resistance. Reagan and, even more, his intensely ideological CIA director, William Casey, saw the battle for Afghanistan as a titanic struggle in the war between Eastern tyranny and Western freedom.

. . . After the last Soviet troops departed, Afghanistan fell off the American radar screen. Over the next few years, Shevardnadze's worst nightmares came true. The Taliban rose to power and in 1996 gave refuge to the—by then—much-hunted Bin Laden.

Oh yeah, those were our terrorists. So Reagan was doing his presidential duty by talking with those terrorists, as well as creating Iran-Contra, but now Bush and McSame won't talk to anybody?


Here's Lupe Fiasco's "American Terrorist":