Thursday, May 29, 2008

The backpedal begins

By Carl

I'm not sure who is in charge of "message" in the Obama campaign, but
this smacks of silliness:

WASHINGTON — With his experience and leadership credentials under sharp criticism, Senator Barack Obama and his advisers are trying to clarify what has emerged as a central tenet of his proposed foreign policy: a willingness to meet leaders of enemy nations.

In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Obama, of Illinois, sought to emphasize, as he and his aides have done continually over the last few days, the difference between avoiding preconditions for talks with nations like Iran and Syria, and granting them automatic discussions at the presidential level.

While Mr. Obama has said he would depart from the Bush administration policy of refusing to meet with certain nations unless they meet preconditions, he has also said he would reserve the right to choose which leaders he would meet, should he choose to meet with them at all.

Let me get this straight: after six months of chiding from Clinton, Edwards, Biden, Dodd, Richardson, and now, John McCain, someone in Barack Obama's campaign finally woke up at 2 AM a couple of nights ago, slapped his forehead and said "HOLY SHIT! "NO PRECONDITIONS"???? WHAT ARE WE, IDIOTS?"

Now, "no preconditions" means "no preconditions," unless you are putting preconditions on the word "preconditions". Sort of like, "Depends on what your definition of 'is', is."

Apparently, it didn't really mean "no preconditions".

This is a rookie campaign being run by highly inexperienced operatives, and I can almost bet that by Denver (if not, after), Obama will be asked to make some serious changes to his senior staffing.

Or, to put it in flip flop terms, he was FOR appeasing Iran BEFORE he was against it:

This week, Mr. Obama said that he was still considering meeting with Iranian leaders, though he would not necessarily guarantee a direct meeting with Mr. Ahmadinejad.

“There is no reason why we would necessarily meet with Ahmadinejad before we know that he is actually in power,” Mr. Obama told reporters. “He is not the most powerful person in Iran.”

Last week, Mr. Obama offered a similarly nuanced explanation about meeting with President Raúl Castro of Cuba, saying he would do so only “at a time and place of my choosing.”

The caveats belie the simple answer Mr. Obama gave during a debate last summer, when the issue was first raised in a major public forum. Without hesitation or qualification, Mr. Obama said he would hold direct talks with America’s enemies, drawing strong and immediate criticism from his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

“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?” asked Stephen Sixta, a video producer who submitted the question for the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate.

Mr. Obama, the first candidate to respond, answered, “I would.”

Several aides immediately thought it was a mistake and sought to dial back his answer. But on a conference call the morning after the debate, Mr. Obama told his advisers that he had meant what he said and thought the answer crystallized how he differed from his rivals.

“I think that it is an example of how stunted our foreign policy debates have become over the last eight years that this is an issue that political opponents try to seize on,” Mr. Obama said in an interview on Wednesday. “It is actually a pretty conventional view of how diplomacy should work traditionally that has fallen into disrepute in Republican circles and in Washington.”

Even after Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton called his position naïve, Mr. Obama refused to shy away from it, at times speaking explicitly in terms of a potential meeting with Mr. Ahmadinejad.

In other words, it would give Ahmadinejad a lot more credibility with the world community than it would with the US government and would do more for Iran than it would do for America, which is an awful way to go about diplomacy, which has long been defined as the art of letting someone get your way.

Now, at no time during this or any subsequent debate or Q&A on this point has Obama ever amended this statement: attack the conventional way of diplomacy and "no preconditions" to meeting world leaders.

So apparently, Senator Obama has come to his senses and joined the "reality based" community of conventional realpolitik!

Now if only the Democratic Party would come to its senses...

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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