Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Richardson bails out Obama

Gaffes -- their a real pain in the butt when you make them, and Obama has made a big one when it came to his assessment that Iran wasn't a threat. But in the last couple of weeks the more noticeable thing that's occurred is the rhetoric surrounding Obama's idea of diplomacy. See, he said in the CNN/YouTube debate that he would talk to the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Syria, and Iran without preconditions. He said that. Here is the video of it. And here is the transcript:

In 1982, Anwar Sadat traveled to Israel, a trip that resulted in a peace agreement that has lasted ever since. In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?

Obama's response?

I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous. Now, Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire. And the reason is because they understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward.

Today Captain Ed takes note of a Bill Richardson interview on FOX where he tries to bail his buddy out. Here's the link to the video. When Richardson is asked about Obama wanting to talk to Ahmadinejad, he tells those on Fox and Friends that he doesn't want to talk with Ahmadinejad. He wants to talk to the clerics and the moderates in the government.

This is actually a gaffe that's worse than Obama's initial mistake. There are no moderates on the Guardian Council. Ahmadinejad is just the guy out in front of them, and he does what they tell him to do. Richardson spins it as a desire for preparations before such talks to happen, which would technically be a "precondition." So, in that regard, Obama is backpeddling. Captain Ed also points to this interview with Jake Tapper where Obama reiterates what Richardson basically says:

TAPPER: In recent days, it has seemed that some of your staffers and supporters have walked back from your statement that you would be willing to meet with the leaders of rogue nations, countries hostile to the U.S., without preconditions. Your foreign policy adviser Susan Rice said you wouldn't necessarily meet with Ahmadinejad, Sen. Daschle said of course there would be conditions -- (Obama interrupts)

OBAMA: You know, Jake, I have to say I completely disagree that people have been walking back from anything. They may be correcting the characterizations or distortions of John McCain or others of what I said. What I said was I would meet with our adversaries including Iran, including Venezuela, including Cuba, including North Korea, without preconditions but that does not mean without preparation.

He's splitting hairs with "preparation" and "precondition." They are basically the same thing. (A quick look at my handy-dandy thesaurus confirms this.) He still wants to meet with the leaders of these nations regardless, and immediately after this, Tapper asks him what the difference is. Obama's response is less than stellar:

OBAMA: There's a huge difference. When you talk about Iran, for example, the Bush administration's position has been we won't have talks with Iran until they agree to everything we want to them to agree to. That's not diplomacy. That's asking them to do what they say and then acknowledge we are willing to meet with them. That's not how diplomacy works. That's not how Ronald Reagan operated with Gorbachev or Kennedy with Khruschev or Nixon with Mao.

There are a whole series of steps that need to be taken before you have a presidential meeting but that doesn't mean you expect the other side to agree to every item on your list. That has been the attitude of the Bush administration and that will change when I'm President of the United States. What we are doing now hasn't worked. Iran is stronger now than when George Bush took office. The Cuban people are no more free than when George Bush took office. The one area we saw progress, North Korea, and that is in direct proportion to the Bush administration's reversing itself and participating in the six-party talks when early on they refused and (North Korea) developed nuclear weapons they didn't have when George Bush took office. We will return to common sense, bipartisan approach to diplomacy that existed before George Bush. In fact, his father practiced the same diplomacy I'm talking about.

The president has maintained that he won't talk to Iran as they continue to enrich uranium. Bush really had nothing to do with the stance on Cuba. That's been in place for over forty years, and has been that way with Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. He points to North Korea, and says that our stance on them changed. No it didn't. We refused to have one-on-one talks with them, and demanded they return to the six-party talks. That's been maintained since the get-go.

It's bad enough this guy constantly misrepresents the sort of diplomacy that's been conducted in the past. Reagan only met with Gorbachev when he knew he had the Soviets on the ropes. JFK met with Khruschev in Vienna, but it wasn't when we were on the brink of nuclear war. Right now Obama keeps making mistakes every time he speaks. The more mistakes he does make, the worse he looks in the eyes of the voters. People say that he's got so many supporters, but it's infinitesimal compared to the rest of the country. And while most people don't pay all that much attention to election cycles until after Labor Day, his soundbites are going to be priceless in campaign ads this fall.

Publius II


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