Monday, May 19, 2008

If the shoe fits...whine about it.

The funniest political story this week has been the umbrage that Democrats have taken about Bush giving a speech to the Knesset in which he spoke out against appeasement of terrorist groups. Ah, Bush talks about appeasers, the Democrats scream, he must be discussing Barack Obama!

The party whose Speaker of the House traveled to Syria and proclaimed that the road to peace went through Damascus and whose former president recently met with the leader of Hamas and whose prospective presidential nominee proclaimed proudly that he would meet without preconditions with the leaders of Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela heard the mention of appeasement and realized that the shoe fit and they were being forced to wear it. As the Wall Street Journal writes today,

Mr. Obama asserted again yesterday that he will not meet with terrorists. He is, however, willing to meet with Iran or Syria. Virtually no serious person disputes that Iran has shipped weaponry to terrorists in Iraq and that Syria has provided safe haven to these terrorists and let them cross from Syria into Iraq. In turn, these jihadists have killed U.S. soldiers. At a minimum, one might expect that ceasing this lethal activity would be a "precondition" before committing the office of the presidency to meet with either.

Sure, Obama won't meet with terrorists, but he'll meet with the sponsors and bankrollers of terrorists.

A Conspiracy So Lunatic... Only 60 Minutes could fall for it.

Normally one might expect a person of uncertain mental health who alleged such a comprehensive conspiracy to be ushered quietly offstage. Instead, in late February, CBS's 60 Minutes gave her a starring role. This can be explained only by the fact that Simpson included in her fable, as she related it to CBS, a final conspirator: Karl Rove, who, according to Simpson, orchestrated the plot against Siegelman.

In her 60 Minutes interview, Simpson claimed to have been Rove's secret agent in Alabama. She said that during Siegelman's term as governor of Alabama, Rove had asked her to follow Siegelman around and try to get photographs of him "in a compromising sexual position" with one of his aides. This led to one of the great moments in recent broadcast history:

60 Minutes's Scott Pelley: Were you surprised that Rove made this request?

Simpson: No.

Pelley: Why not?

Simpson: I had had other requests for intelligence before.

Pelley: From Karl Rove?

Simpson: Yes.

Pelley was at a crossroads: He knew that either (1) he was on the verge of uncovering a whole series of Rovian plots, the stuff of which Pulitzers are made, or (2) he was talking to a lunatic. Intuiting, no doubt, which way the conversation was likely to go, Pelley discreetly chose not to inquire further.

Obama’s Iraq Minefield.

Far from being “above politics,” Obama has demonstrated a remarkable capacity to play the sordid game with almost undetectable skill. He has indeed equivocated and contradicted himself on the war, and he has more or less confessed to tilting whichever way the wind blows for the purposes of political expediency. He had jaw-dropping exchange with Tim Russert on the November 11, 2007 installment of Meet the Press in which, when challenged with some of his own wobblier pronouncements on holding fellow Democrats to account for authorizing the war, he replied that the party had just put up “a nominee for the presidency and a vice president, both of whom had voted for the war. And so it probably was the wrong time for me to be making a strong case against our party’s nominees’ decisions when it came to Iraq.”

Thus Obama was willing to sacrifice his own belief in the folly of Kerry and Edwards’s decisions in order not to rock the boat on their way to the White House. What else might he be willing to sacrifice, go silent on, or obfuscate, when he himself is the one running for president?

In an interviewNew Yorker in 2007, before he had declared his presidential candidacy and when he was still in the habit of giving Hillary Clinton her dues: “[P]erhaps the reason I thought [the war] was such a bad idea was that I didn’t have the benefit of U.S. intelligence. And, for those who did, it might have led to a different set of choices… [Clinton] and I were in different circumstances at that time: I was running for the U.S. Senate, she had to take a vote, and casting votes is always a difficult test.” No doubt it is. But lest this generous dispensation to his future rival lead you to credit Obama with self-criticism and doubt, consider that the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, on which he claimed to have based his antiwar stance and from which he formulated parts of his Chicago speech, conceded that Saddam had an arsenal of WMD but did not pose an imminent threat. As Crowley put it, “If Obama already accepted that Saddam had WMD, why would the intelligence have changed his view about war?” What would he have learned from classified information that he didn’t already know and that any one of the former Democratic contenders for president this year might have trotted out in their defense for voting to go to war?

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