Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 16, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

WATER'S EDGE....Over at American Footprints, Haggai has a comment about President Bush's speech to the Knesset on Thursday:

While it might be true that Bush just took "the basically unprecedented step of lashing out at his domestic political opponents in a speech to a foreign parliament," why does it matter where he made the speech? Why should we care about that particular aspect of it?

Let's surmise this scenario: Obama becomes president and ends up in the circumstance of visiting Israel to advance negotiations on a peace agreement, while simultaneously drawing down American forces from Iraq. Let's say he gives a speech there talking about both of those things, and he argues for why American withdrawal from Iraq is better for Israel than the policies of the previous administration, including an argument about why invading Iraq in the first place was not beneficial to America or to Israel. Surely Republicans would cry foul about the U.S. president slamming his domestic opposition on foreign soil, but would any of us liberals be against it? I sure wouldn't be.

I think this business about politics stopping at water's edge has always been overblown, honored more in the breach than the observance. Regardless, though, I agree with Haggai: if this rule ever made sense, it doesn't anymore. Travel is too ubiquitous, television and the internet are too global, and audiences are too sophisticated for this to matter much anymore. Everyone in the world already knows how Bush and Obama feel about talking with various international bad actors because they see see it on TV every day. 24/7 cable news has made the distinction of where something is said mostly obsolete and the symbology of showing a united front on foreign soil little more than a quaint relic of an earlier age.

What Bush said was ridiculous, but the fact that he said in Israel didn't make it any worse. It may have had a good run, but it's time to officially retire the water's edge rule.

Kevin Drum 11:53 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (110)

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Comments

What he said was so asinine (even Matthews could see that!) that its stupidity and harmfulness should be the focus. IMHO.

Posted by: John McCain: More of the Same on May 16, 2008 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

What Bush said was ridiculous, but the fact that he said in Israel didn't make it any worse.

I disagree. While what you say about global TV, the internet, etc., is true, Bush made what was essentially a Republican campaign speech while speaking in his role as U.S. head of state in front of the legislature of another country, and that's just unconscionable. And I would feel the same way if it was a Democrat saying things that I agree with.*

*But, admittedly, I might not be quite so angry about it.

Posted by: thersites on May 16, 2008 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Surely Republicans would cry foul about the U.S. president slamming his domestic opposition on foreign soil, but would any of us liberals be against it? I sure wouldn't be.

Where are the Nazis in your hypothetical? Where, indeed, are any historical analogies? Absent these, and it's non-analogous (in two manners of speaking).
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on May 16, 2008 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

The worst thing to do is complain about where he said it, and not what he said. What he said is idiotic, but must be opposed on the substance.

Posted by: Jim W on May 16, 2008 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

It matters for domestic politics alone.

It has absolutely nothing to do with actually showing a united front abroad and everything to do with American voters' perceptions of the role of our politicians abroad.

You don't talk smack about America or American when you are abroad..once they get home, however...

Posted by: Nazgul35 on May 16, 2008 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with the frist poster. Even a clown like Chris Matthews could identify what was so wrong: equating talking to enemies with appeasement.

Posted by: Grumpy on May 16, 2008 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

The worst thing to do is complain about where he said it, and not what he said.

I dunno. The grandson of a Nazi supporter, speaking in the Knesset, on the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel, about how appeasing the Nazis shows that appeasement is a bad idea is just too fucking rich.

It belongs in The Onion.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on May 16, 2008 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

No. You're glossing over something that President Bush did that no US president should ever, ever do again -- go to a foreign government and urge them not to work with an opposing politician, EVEN IF THAT PERSON ENDS UP BECOMING THE VALIDLY ELECTED PRESIDENT. Bush did not merely criticize the opposing viewpoint; he urged a foriegn nation to resist a small-D democractic transfer of power within our nation.

Posted by: tom veil on May 16, 2008 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Waters Edge....is that what has prevented the Dali Lama from having a opinion about China when he visits bush's America???

Posted by: jerri on May 16, 2008 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Globalization wiped that rule off the map.

Posted by: Matt on May 16, 2008 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Several commenters nailed the point; it was at the Knesset. That's not just somewhere else.

Very, very bad practice.

Posted by: drinkof on May 16, 2008 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

What he said is idiotic, but must be opposed on the substance.

Big mistake.


Politics ain't little league. Oppose them on whatever grounds that seem even remotely legitimate. This liberals' insistence on substance is what has got them to become object of utter ridicule everywhere.

Posted by: gregor on May 16, 2008 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

I find reprehensible the judgment of a man whose family had direct ties--both financial and ideological--to Hitler and Nazi Germany calling into question the patriotism of a fellow countryman.

If you don't know about Prescott Bush's involvement in a plot to overthrow FDR in a fascist coup, now is the time for all good men to Google. Women, too.

Posted by: hancock on May 16, 2008 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

How arrogantly self-absorbed and ethnocentric to automatically assume that a foreign policy statement made abroad is directed only at your parochial domestic political campaign. There are many world leaders who consistently urge presidential level negotiation without preconditions with state and nonstate actors of extreme bent. Why assume their arguments are unimportant, and only your current political campaign was being addressed?

Posted by: Ushola on May 16, 2008 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'll second (fifth, whatever it's up to) the notion that "Bush got all political overseas" isn't the issue, it's "Bush used his position as head of state addressing another nation's government to debase his office with cheap politics."

Will Bunch got it right.

Posted by: editer on May 16, 2008 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

As mighty as one is going to try to say everything is always 100% relative, the truth is that venue does matter. Reagan giving that speech in Philadelphia, MS did not have electoral consequences? Perhaps Obama should never give a live speech again and distribute his message through YouTube. So let's quit the snobbery a tad and call it like it is: what Bush did was offensive to 50%+ Americans and will have repercussions.

Posted by: Raoul on May 16, 2008 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

But if your point about the speed of communication is true, why then would Presidents do things like go to Israel to give a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel? Why not just do it from the White House and save the travel costs? Presidents go and give speeches at the Knesset and so forth because doing so has enormous symbolic value. (Consider the reaction if he had given the speech from Washington by teleconference. I'm pretty sure some folks would have been slighted.) But if these kinds of events have symbolic value, then they have symbolic value. Part of that symbolism is that the President is the representative of the American people at these things, not just the leader of one political party. That is why where he did it matters.

Posted by: MSR on May 16, 2008 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

I just find the irony in this water's edge deal. At least Bush is not a Dixie Chick speaking at a concert; he's the U.S. chief executive using his position to make incorrect, uninformed political points in front of an assemby of a foreign government.

Posted by: Lee on May 16, 2008 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

The point is that he draws a box around American policy. While Shrub's idiotic stance is hardly unique, it just makes it more difficult for the next administration to do different things. This has been the hallmark of Shrub vis-a-vis the more contentious foreign policy issue - Axis of Evil, ignoring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for six years, starting an unnecessary and unwinnable war.

Posted by: Jeff II on May 16, 2008 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

The rethugs made a huge deal about Democrats criticizing Bush while he's abroad, a few years back. Funny how the "water's edge" rule, like the Senate cloture rule over judges' confirmation, is sacrosanct when rethugs like it, but a useless anachronism when they don't.

You'd think Kevin would be savvy enough to see that, wouldn't you? For my part, damned if I'll let the rethugs get away with that crap again!

Posted by: Amit Joshi on May 16, 2008 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

I like reading Kevin Drum because he is so more often wrong than almost any other blog I visit. It feeds into my smug sense of superiority.

Dude -- are you seriously comparing a future president explaining a change in policy with accusing someone of appeasing Hitler in front of the Knesset? WTF? There is no comparison.

The rule about attacking domestic opposition candidates while abroad may be overblown, but this is clearly beyond the pale.

He actually violated TWO rules. The other rule is past presidents don't undermine current presidents . The corollary of which is present presidents don't undermine future presidents. This isn't a policy dispute. This is a smear designed specifically to turn a foreign power against a potential president. That is not cool.

The ONLY valid excuse is that Bush wasn't really abroad since Israel is practically the 51st state.

Posted by: inkadu on May 16, 2008 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

The republicans are trying to paint Obama into a corner over Israel and Hamas. They're going to elicit pro-Israel, anti-Hamas statements now, then turn them back on him when he doesn't support this summer's war.

So why does it matter where Bush said this? The project of painting Obama into a corner is easiest when the place of the speech (and its inevitable repetition) strengthens the string of associations the Republicans are ultimately going for:

McBush=Republican=pro-Israel=anti-Hamas=anti-appeasement=pro-war

I like Kevin's impulse to defuse this string by ignoring the place. But we also need to recognize the underlying project.

Posted by: GFunk on May 16, 2008 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

As others have noted, I think the fact that he did this at the Knesset is pretty big. It really led to the impression that Bush, The Republicans, and the Knesset must fight against the Democrats for the glory of Israel.

Again, whose side is he on? Does he hate the Democrats so much that he is willing to wink and nod with a foreign government in a fight against people of his own country? For Bush, the answer is: yes. He will join up with foreign governments against his own people. He hates the Democrats so much, that he would team up with Chairman Mao if he thought it would suit him politically.

I don't think, like others have suggested, that Bush has committed something along the lines of Political High Treason or anything that alarming, but I do think it offers yet another example of how Bush is basically just an incompetent political hack with no class, a jack ass who doesn't have enough honor or dignity to run the local Rotary, let alone the United States.

Posted by: BombIranForChrist on May 16, 2008 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

The issue isn't even so much that he made the remarks abroad.

It's the fact that the current President of the United States went before the governing body of a foreign, soverign state and talked shit about a candidate to replace him.

If it'd been a press interview, that's one thing. This was an official statement in an offical context, before an important regional ally.

Posted by: phleabo on May 16, 2008 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Oh my...looks like Kevin woke up on the moderate-too-a-fault side of the bed this morning...

Drum: ..audiences are too sophisticated for this to matter much anymore..

Um, no...I'll bet that you could come up with an example or two within a minute that negates that assertion, Kev.

..cable news has made the distinction of where something is said mostly obsolete

So you think that calling 'some people' who differ from your stand on foreign policy the equivalent of Nazi appeasers/sympathizers in front of the Israeli parliament doesn't have any added impact?

Or, more simply, would the audience have applauded as loudly if Dubya had said this in front of both houses of Congress?

What Bush said was ridiculous, but the fact that he said in Israel didn't make it any worse.

Disagree. It's an attempt by a sitting US President to align a foreign country - and US citizens highly sympathetic to that foreign country - against US citizens that don't ascribe to his views.

It's divisive, and serves no good purpose.

..it's time to officially retire the water's edge rule.

I get that we, as a country, air our dirty laundry out for the world to see. I don't know if that's necessarily a good thing.

Posted by: grape_crush on May 16, 2008 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

You know, some of you folks are missing how to make lemonade from this lemon. The dem response should be:

GWB has to go to Israel to campaign for the Republican party. Why so far away? Is it because his failed policies are so unpopular here at home?

Posted by: optical weenie on May 16, 2008 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Presidents go and give speeches at the Knesset and so forth because doing so has enormous symbolic value.

MSR, exactly right. Kevin, this is an example of utter blogger blinders. You may be fine with life is just a window for your own life, but the world doesn't work this way and your pious pronouncement that global communications mean it doesn't matter where a head of state says something is just specious nonsense. The significance of such physically embodied visits is enormous and - Camp David peace talks, a summit with Putin, G8, a visit by the President of Taiwan, Nixon's visit to China, Churchill's address to both houses of Congress. The idea that this significance is now diminished because of CNN and CSPAN is utterly laughable, as can be ascertained from a 10-second thought experiment in which all of the aforementioned events are attempted by teleconference.

Still, this is admittedly something that may not be self-evident if you absorb everything about the world from a computer hutch.

Posted by: q on May 16, 2008 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Haggai's hypothetical is bs. Bush made a partisan attack misrepresenting Obama's position in a foreign parliment. In the hypothetical, Haggai has Obama advancing a peace process and explaining why past actions were ineffective.

And of course the Republicans would cry foul, as they will through all 8 years of Obama's presidency.

Posted by: tomeck on May 16, 2008 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Making these statements if front of the Knesset was deplorable. The little cowboy stepped in it big time - once again. I don't really mind as it has certainly unified the Democrats. I still like the water's edge rule.

Posted by: alsek on May 16, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Haggai's hypothetical comparison might be appropriate if the future president Obama were making his remarks during a presidential election season, if the main opponent of his party's nominee was advocating a get-tough policy on Iraq, and if president Obama misrepresented that get-tough policy as wanting to "bomb Iraq into the stone age".

As it is, none of those conditions come close to applying; ergo Haggai's comparison is BS.

Why do liberals insist on bringing peashooters to bazooka fights?

Posted by: Wilbur on May 16, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Making his statements before the Knesset, on the occasion of the anniversary of Israel's founding, was particularly classless and adds another turn of the screw.

Wouldn't have added much if he made the statement while on vacation at a nudist retreat in the Alps. To that extent, I agree that the waters-edge thing gets overdone.

Posted by: tom on May 16, 2008 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's right, but for the worst possible reasons.

We've already tossed out:

Due process

Privacy

Having a, you know, reason to go to war

Presidential elections

Opposition to torture

taxing the wealthy

US global standing

...what's a little "water's edge?"

Posted by: cazart on May 16, 2008 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

I dunno, Kevin, this is small-bore caviling that gets a couple of things wrong, especially this part:

Everyone in the world already knows how Bush and Obama feel about talking with various international bad actors because they see see it on TV every day. 24/7 cable news has made the distinction of where something is said mostly obsolete and the symbology of showing a united front on foreign soil little more than a quaint relic of an earlier age.

Everybody in the world? Nope. Apparently not. Not when most Americans appear not to understand the historical reference to appeasement and have forgotten what diplomacy actually looks like.

And as for the water's edge business being a quaint relic, well, all right. Quaint relic or not, the US president's lapse presented a golden opportunity--was a teachable moment--for Obama to castigate Bush and tie McBush to a failed administration and a failed foreign policy. Especially while important political figures and media outlets were up in arms over Bush's shameless fear-mongering aimed at the domestic market from the Knesset.

Good for Obama.

Posted by: paxr55 on May 16, 2008 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

There's a couple of things at work here. (1) Bush is trying to influence all the dual citizens of Isreal who can vote in American elections to vote for the Repub candidate. (2) He's sending a message to our Arab allies that we will not take their viewpoint on how to resolve the conflict as there is only one side we're on. This effectively ends any chance of peace in the region by such a speech. As many others have also said, his family was in bed with Nazi Germany from the start and helped them build their war machine that oppressed the citizens of Isreal. Either he does not know his family history or believe that the world does not know.

Posted by: del on May 16, 2008 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly, I'm perfectly cool with the idea of W traipsing all over the globe to tell everyone who'll listen just how much he & McCain agree on, well, EVERYTHING. If Democrats were smart, we wouldn't be kvetching about how unfair it is. We'd simply be duct taping these political doppelgängers together every single time they present us with the gift of publicly agreeing with one another. So much the better if the rest of the world gets to see how little difference there is between our last Republican Idiot in Chief & the current Republican Idiot in Chief-aspirant.

Posted by: junebug on May 16, 2008 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Optical Weenie, you're right.

Now that Bush has given his speech, I don't think it's possible for either Hillary or Obama to be elected president of Israel. Maybe they'll take McCain off our hands, though.

Posted by: thersites on May 16, 2008 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Gotta give serious props to Grand Moff Texan for the perfectly stated response to Kevin's post: "...The grandson of a Nazi supporter, speaking in the Knesset, on the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel, about how appeasing the Nazis shows that appeasement is a bad idea is just too f**king rich. It belongs in The Onion."
---
Irony is truly dead in the age of Bush.
Kevin's absolutely right... in the ideal world. Unfortunately, the GOP and the MSM don't play by those rules and CONTEXT really does matter - the chutzpah demonstrated by Bush is just mind-blowing. I'm sure Bush Sr. is thrilled to have his father's infamous business dealings with the Nazis brought back into the spotlight. BTW, for those born yesterday, the entire reason Jewish Israel came into being was because of the Nazis and Hitler. I just pray that the next anniversary arrives with news that conflict no longer reigns in God's land.

Posted by: kiweagle on May 16, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Optical Weenie, you're right. - Thersites

Gasp, gasp, clutching at desk, argling for air.
What you trying to give this troll a heart attack or something?

Posted by: optical weenie on May 16, 2008 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I tried to make clear that I was attempting to separate the inane boorishness of Bush's specific comments from the general principle of "don't criticize your domestic opponents abroad," but I guess a lot of people aren't interested in that discussion. I certainly wasn't arguing that my hypothetical Obama speech would be exactly equivalent to what Bush said; it wouldn't be even close.

But that's exactly my point: I was just trying to put forth a hypothetical scenario in which we might be hearing screams of "no domestic political attacks on foreign soil!!!", but where the actual substance of the speech would be something we support. Wouldn't we be defending Obama in that scenario? I certainly think we would, and rightfully so.

Posted by: Haggai on May 16, 2008 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that MSR stated it correctly and well.

I also believe that this episode is further evidence that Republicans will do whatever they can to win this fall, regardless. They see it as the end of the party if they don't. And, while things overwhelmingly lean toward Democrats this Fall, unfortunately I think Republicans have nominated the only one of their candidates who CAN win in a year like this, and Democrats have nominated the only one of their candidates who CAN lose in a year like this. We'll see how it comes out. But anyone naively thinking that prior quaint notions of "rules" apply in this election, do not have a handle on the Republican's desperation.

Posted by: Pat on May 16, 2008 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Barack Obama has called President Bush's comments on appeasement "exactly the kind of appalling attack that's divided our country and alienates us from the rest of the world."

Now, my problem here, is what makes us different? All national leaders, and national aspirants, say and do things that separate them from the rest of the world, that is the factual definition of a national leader.

It is the watchword for the classic liberal. See how the progressive and conservative deal with plain and obvious facts. When they highlight the obvious or ignore the obvious, then the classic liberal should look for the hidden agenda.


Posted by: Matt on May 16, 2008 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Weenie: argling for air

You don't need to argle for air, but argling is apparently a troll behavior.

Did you know that was really a word? I didn't. Nice onomatopoeia, though.

Posted by: thersites on May 16, 2008 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, did you actually take lessons on missing the point?

Posted by: on May 16, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

The only reason the "foreign soil" bit is being raised is to show what hypocrites they are. It's in memory of the Dixie Chicks. No one but the Republicans care, and they only care when it's not a Republican.

Posted by: Memekiller on May 16, 2008 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Haggai,

I understood the distinction. I simply disagree with you and Kevin that where Bush said what he said doesn't matter. It would be inane and boorish wherever he said it, but that particular setting made it worse. I would feel the same way if it was Obama saying things I agreed with, criticizing his domestic opponents.

Not that he was speaking overseas, but that he was speaking to another government in his role as head of state.

Posted by: thersites on May 16, 2008 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Thersites,
I am potty trained, there is no need for me to go on the mat to pee, huh.

Posted by: optical weenie on May 16, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

"In fact, Obama has explicitly said that we should only meet with Hamas "if they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel's right to exist and abide by past agreements."

This is Obama's response, and notice now that the inflation of the problem grows because Obama was unwilling to accept a factual statement weeks ago.


Had he simply, and neutrally stated the facts a week ago he would be sitting pretty, but he walks into a buzz saw because he has hidden agendas.

The simple fact is: "Hamas is a military/political group that is at war with Israel, and sometimes gets officially elected. The USA should talk to them in that context, usually when a truce is a possible"

What is Obama's hidden agenda here, why does a simple statment of fact elude the guy?

Obama's problem is not with the facts, it is with the progressives who expect more in foreign policy than foreign leaders will deliver. He is caught in a trap of letting the progressives believe more than is true.

As this campaign unfolds, we will see more and more of this, McCain knowing that the Dems have let untrue expectations permeate the campaign, McCain will slant a fact, forcing the Dems to dance around an issue rather than reveal truth to their constituents.

Posted by: Matt on May 16, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Haggai - Ok. I get your point, and maybe the outrage is being misattributed to the "water's edge rule," which is why we're not all that interested in having the discussion. The water's edge argument is actually about the fourth or fifth reason Bush's statement bothers me.

The rule itself seems to gather a few connotations, like dandelion pollen to a basselope, that aren't in the strict definition. For instance, the idea of old school diplomacy and general classiness seems to have been violated here. And location DID matter, even if it the foreignness of the location was pretty minor.

So, yeah, valid critique of the water's edge rule, but in an narrow & academic sense. There's certainly a lot to be miffed about with this statement that has a lot to do with its location & character.

Posted by: inkadu on May 16, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK
While it might be true that Bush just took "the basically unprecedented step of lashing out at his domestic political opponents in a speech to a foreign parliament," why does it matter where he made the speech?

That criticism is a little to general, which obscures the reason that what Bush did matters.

He compared a domestic political opponent to the passive enablers of a nation which proceeded to engage in both aggressive war and a genocidal campaign conducted against the ethnic group for whom the nation to whose parliament he was speaking was created as an ethnic homeland, almost immediately after the defeat of that nation and the termination of that genocidal campaign.

That's the problem. Generalizing things to a violation of the nonsensical "politics stops at the waters edge" principle misses the point by obscuring the critical context.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 16, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

"What Bush said was ridiculous,"

No it wasn't. I was self-evidently true, and it was a serious policy issue. Which is why you continue to twist, turn, evade, screech and go on and on about the politics of it while studiously sidestepping the policy issues.

Only your little Leftist followers are stupid enough to not have noticed this.

Posted by: am on May 16, 2008 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Haggai: I was attempting to separate the inane boorishness of Bush's specific comments from the general principle of "don't criticize your domestic opponents abroad"...

If I was found severely ripping on the company I work for in a public forum - saying that the design of part our product was fundamentally flawed and the group within the company designing it had already sold out to our competitors - I would expect to get fired.

Same principle with Bush's remarks.

Posted by: grape_crush on May 16, 2008 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

inkadu, that's a fair point. The argument I'm making is indeed a pretty academic one, given the nature of what Bush said. I can see thersites' point as well, but I think the blanket nature of the "water's edge rule" is something we don't really need to commit to.

As for the specifics of the day, while no one has more grounds than me for being offended by Nazi appeaser analogies being made in the Knesset--most of my family still lives in Israel, and many of my grandparents' relatives didn't survive the Holocaust--I think I might, admittedly, also be a bit inured to it by the fact that I follow events in Israel so closely on a day-to-day basis. It's an unfortunate reality that Nazi/appeaser/etc. analogies get thrown around ALL THE TIME in Israel, and while the president of the U.S. doing so in that particular house of government is probably reaching a new low, it also comes across to me as part of the same stupid clown show that (fingers crossed) we might be able to get beyond in an Obama administration. But I don't begrudge people being even more pissed off than usual by the near-perfect storm of offensiveness that Bush was engaging in.

Posted by: Haggai on May 16, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

So much clutching at pearls! Now we even have instantaneous response to remarks that don't even criticize Obama directly, explicitly, or even state his public positions and then criticize them.

The passage in question:

"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. (Applause.)"

The only person criticized directly by this passage is a long-dead Republcian Senator. Since neither Obama nor Clinton, our two remaining candidates, support either appeasement or negotiating with terrorists and radicals (as opposed to sovereign governments with whom we may disagree)it certainly is not germane to them. Since neither is mentioned, it isn't even fair to say that it is a mischaracterization of their positions.

As we all know, both the government of Israel and the government of the United States have long negotiated with nations such as Iran, Iraq, North Korea and the Soviet Union, all of whom at one time or another sponsored some sort of terrorist activity. Israel now conducts back channel and even open negotiations with Hamas (and the majority of Israeli citizens support direct negotiations). The US, regardless of which party wins the Presidency, will do so in the future.

How we can extrapolate from above the following hysterics?

"President Bush did that no US president should ever, ever do again -- go to a foreign government and urge them not to work with an opposing politician, EVEN IF THAT PERSON ENDS UP BECOMING THE VALIDLY ELECTED PRESIDENT. Bush did not merely criticize the opposing viewpoint; he urged a foriegn nation to resist a small-D democractic transfer of power within our nation."

It isn't in the speech.

"The other rule is past presidents don't undermine current presidents . The corollary of which is present presidents don't undermine future presidents. This isn't a policy dispute. This is a smear designed specifically to turn a foreign power against a potential president. That is not cool."

As no American politician or party is mentioned, and no one's (at least no Democratic candidate for President) actual policy position is criticized, how can it be a smear?

"It really led to the impression that Bush, The Republicans, and the Knesset must fight against the Democrats for the glory of Israel."

Odd, how you might think that, since Israel routinely negotiates with Hamas- without the appeasement part. Does this put them on the same side or the opposite side of where you see Bush and the Democrats?

"Bush made a partisan attack misrepresenting Obama's position in a foreign parliment."

Except that isn't in the speech. If Bush said in a speech "murderers should be given the death penalty" would you jump up and yell "Obama didn't kill anyone"?

Bush's single-minded destruction of any rational US Middle East policy over the last eight years gives decades worth of opportunity for criticism and correction. Bush has said a world of destructive and stupid things (and so has McCain) to chew on, without getting the vapors over a routinely pro-Israel speech. Knee-jerk support for every decision of the Israeli government, as opposed to bedrock support for Israel's right to exist, is the divding line between Democrats and PNAC neo-cons. Let's argue that (as Obama has), instead of foolishly creating an argument out of whole cloth.


Posted by: solar on May 16, 2008 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Jeez am, you could have let the ink dry on that awful GOP meme before mindlessly regurgitating it in full view. How embarrassing for you.

Guess what? Rational, intelligent, and savvy US administrations conduct diplomacy with their enemies to work for peace and avoid war. Of course, those qualities escape the current crop of criminally incompetent, negligent, and dishonest fools that occupy the White House.

Posted by: ckelly on May 16, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

I strongly disagree with Kevin. After the irremdiable loss of the eight Bush years in addressing the world's grave problems, perhaps the worst cost of the ascendance of the Right in American politics has been the loss of standards of civility in public discourse. A few years ago Columbia linguist Deborah Tannen made the case for the preciousness of the informal "rules" that guaranteed civil discourse in Congress, the fact that they'd taken two centuries to evolve -- and only two or three decades to destroy. She held up the Japanese Diet, where no such rules have yet developed, so that their legislature, after more than half a century, is still barely functional.

It will take a long time -- decades at least -- to repair Congress and our public dialog, and equally long to undo the damage done to our Presidency. Bush's speech before the Knesset damaged each and every one of us.

Posted by: Bill Noble on May 16, 2008 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

"All leaders ... say and do things that separate them from the rest of the world"

Obama said 'ALIENATES us from the rest of the world'. ALIENATE has a far different connotation from separate.

Posted by: Buford on May 16, 2008 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

am: I(t) was self-evidently true..

Which means you think Dubya's statements are true with no proof or argument supporting it; that the obvious-ness of those statements is more of a matter of faith than fact...

...Which is about par for much of what right-whingers believe.

...and it was a serious policy issue.

Who knows; it might still be, which is why there's an uproar over Dubya's use of a serious policy issue to score political points with a constituency back home. National security is one of those 'third rail' issues that you don't monkey around with in order to take cheap shots.

Or, at least, serious people don't.

Which is why you continue to twist, turn, evade, screech and go on and on about the politics of it while studiously sidestepping the policy issues.

Kev's written plenty about what's going on in the middle east. You need to learn to pay better attention.

Posted by: grape_crush on May 16, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Jeez am, you could have let the ink dry on that awful GOP meme before mindlessly regurgitating it in full view. How embarrassing for you.Posted by: ckelly

ckelly, you've made my weekend and it's not even noon here yet in PDT!

Posted by: Jeff II on May 16, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

the fact that he said [it] in Israel didn't make it any worse

Disagree. W. Bush's address to the Knesset would be analogous to Chamberlain addressing a Nazi parliament, which Chamberlain did not do. When Olmert or Netanyahu address the US Congress, that would be like Hitler addressing England's Parliament. It is doubtful the British MP's would have given Hitler a standing ovation like our Congresspersons gave Israel's leaders.

The US would not even let Krushchev visit Disneyland, but we let foreign, militant racists address our Congress.

Posted by: Brojo on May 16, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

solar on May 16, 2008 at 2:21 PM:

The only person criticized directly by this passage is a long-dead Republcian Senator..."Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals..."

I'm not a grammatical giant, but I think that's in the present tense, solar.

As no American politician or party is mentioned, and no one's (at least no Democratic candidate for President) actual policy position is criticized, how can it be a smear?

This is no different than calling people who didn't support the invasion and occupation of Iraq 'traitors'. Bush is smearing anyone possessing a stated position that does not match his own. 'Whole cloth', my ass.

Obama is not the only one responding to this; Biden had a few choice words.

Posted by: grape_crush on May 16, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

I think both Haggai and Kevin are missing the point here. It's not so much that Bush was political, it's that he used the opportunity to address an ally and brought it down to gutteral level politics. It show immense disrespect to the ally by bringing them into a domestic election cycle, and it abuses his role as American ambassador.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on May 16, 2008 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, just ran into this:

President Bush yesterday took the highly provocative rhetorical step of likening those who support negotiating with our enemies to Nazi appeasers. For most people following the presidential campaign, it was an obvious attack on Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama, who has been particularly critical of Bush's refusal to talk with leaders who disagree with him.
On the record, White House officials issued disingenuous denials that Bush was talking about Obama. But on background, they admitted as much.
CNN's Ed Henry reported that "White House aides privately acknowledged the remarks were aimed at the presidential candidate and others in his party."
Sasha Issenberg writes for the Boston Globe: "White House officials indicated that the criticism applied to Obama."
Brian Williams reported on the NBC Nightly News that "it was clear to those listening that it was in part to make a point about Barack Obama back home." NBC correspondent John Yang then added: "Privately, White House officials said the shoe fits the Democratic frontrunner."

So, can we put the whole 'but he wasn't referring to any living person' argument down as a fallacy?

Posted by: grape_crush on May 16, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Grape, you're not even a grammatical infant. Look up the definition of the word directly (as in "directly criticizing the person who he quoted").

"This is no different than calling people who didn't support the invasion and occupation of Iraq 'traitors'. Bush is smearing anyone possessing a stated position that does not match his own."

There is so much dullness in this passage that it is hard to unpack. What is "no different"? You assert an attack that doesn't exist in the speech. People (and even politician-type people)were directly and explicitly called traitors and worse when they didn't support the Iraq invasion and occupation. Moreover, no leading Democrat would claim as their position the one Bush argued against when he 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."

Does Obama or any major Democrat believe in appeasement? Do any of them believe that they can persuade our enemies by words alone not to be our enemies? When that isn't their expressed opinion, why rise to the bait as if it was, especially since no person or party was mentioned (except one dead Republican who was quoted and vilified)?

On the other hand, McCain's comments about Obama were a direct and explicit attack, and should be (and have been) replied to forcefully.

Posted by: solar on May 16, 2008 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

So much the better if the rest of the world gets to see how little difference there is between our last Republican Idiot in Chief & the current Republican Idiot in Chief-aspirant.
Posted by: junebug on May 16, 2008 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Indeed -- so long as America does not make the unforgivable mistake of electing said Chief/Idiot aspirant.

Posted by: e henry thripshaw on May 16, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Tons of people have hit on this and I want to join the chorus: doing this at the Knesset was gravely wrong. Doing it in front of any parliamentary body would be wrong, but talking of appeasement at the Knesset in such a dishonest way is even more wrong. It cheapens the horror of the Holocaust as just a political point. So although I generally agree that the 'water's edge' rule is mostly useless at this point I think that the rule is still useful when speaking to a foreign parliament.

Posted by: reader on May 16, 2008 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

"So, can we put the whole 'but he wasn't referring to any living person' argument down as a fallacy?"

Only practice can perfect idjitism of this magnitude. Since I never said what you put in quotation marks (I made no claim as to who he was "referring to", merely stated who he had or had not directly addressed), I assume you pulled this from the same hindquarters as the rest of your inability to read comes from. I suppose your claim that I said it could be classified as a "deceptive, misleading, or false belief".

Although I think Obama will total McCain in the general election, it is never clever to allow your opponent to define your positions. In taking umbrage to denunciation of an opinion he never held, Obama seems rather thin-skinned and weak.

Posted by: solar on May 16, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

So, can we put the whole 'but he wasn't referring to any living person' argument down as a fallacy?

Well, yeah, but I guess the SECOND question is how was the statement perceived by the Israeli's? If the Israeli's don't think it's about Obama specifically, there is less of an offense on the international front. For the Israeli's, it could just be white noise.

On the domestic front, though, it's clearly a pre-meditated and coordinated smear. Why do several aides know exactly what Bush is referring to? It's obvious.

Haggai -- I didn't realize Israel was a such an avid demonstrator of Godwin's law. I can't really follow Israeli news since it is far too depressing for daily consumption.

Posted by: inkadu on May 16, 2008 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

solar on May 16, 2008 at 3:42 PM:

Grape, you're not even a grammatical infant.

"Some seem to believe" is somehow talking about a individual, 'long-dead' Republican Senator? 'Some' is plural, 'seem to believe' is present tense.

Later in the piece you quoted, Bush states:

We have heard this foolish delusion before.

even further placing the prior sentence in the present tense.

I don't see how you could have honestly come to your conclusion that Bush wasn't talking about his domestic political opposition. No, Dubya didn't directly name names, but that's not the part of your comment that I'm objecting to.

Your assertion: "The only person criticized directly by this passage is a long-dead Republcian Senator" doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

You assert an attack that doesn't exist in the speech.

Excepting that, by comparing his political opponents to Nazi sympathizers in front of the Israeli parliament, Bush is making an attack.

When that isn't their expressed opinion, why rise to the bait as if it was, especially since no person or party was mentioned (except one dead Republican who was quoted and vilified)?

Again, the attack was directed towards Bush's political opponents, namely Obama, as reported by the news orgs I mentioned in a prior comment.

Face it, solar: Your argument in support of Bush is invalid.

Posted by: grape_crush on May 16, 2008 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

solar on May 16, 2008 at 3:58 PM:

Only practice can perfect idjitism of this magnitude.

So says the expert idjit.

I made no claim as to who he was "referring to"

Yes, you did. Here's your original quote:

The only person criticized directly by this passage is a long-dead Republcian Senator.

Since I never said what you put in quotation marks..

The use of scare quotes does not imply a direct quotation. Try again, solar.

I assume you pulled this from the same hindquarters as the rest of your inability to read comes from.

In debate, insult is the last refuge of those who have no argument...And you have no argument, solar, only an overreliance on insult and a willful misinterpretation of counterargument.

I suppose your claim that I said it could be classified as a "deceptive, misleading, or false belief".

Considering that I wasn't quoting you directly, it would be hard to say that with any degree of honesty. Your statement above could be classified as a "deceptive, misleading, or false belief".

In taking umbrage to denunciation of an opinion he never held...

Obama never said that we should talk to Iran, Syria, or Hamas? Unless you want to wander down the pedantic brick road - again - I don't see any truth in that statement, solar.

Posted by: grape_crush on May 16, 2008 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Grape you seem to be an idiot and damn-the-torpedos-full-speed-ahead intent on proving it. Case in point? Your asinine assertion that "Your argument in support of Bush is invalid." Since I made no argument in support of Bush, and explictly (another word with which you are unacquainted) criticized him ("Bush's single-minded destruction of any rational US Middle East policy over the last eight years gives decades worth of opportunity for criticism and correction. Bush has said a world of destructive and stupid things") the technical term for your statement is "lie".

""Some seem to believe" is somehow talking about a individual, 'long-dead' Republican Senator?"

No idiot, "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." " is a quote from Republican Senator Willaim Borah, who died in 1940. This, as any person possessing a fourth grade mastery of the common tongue knows, is the only part of the speech that directly criticizes someone. The difference between directly and by inference continues to elude you. Reading not your strong suit?

"...by comparing his political opponents to Nazi sympathizers in front of the Israeli parliament, Bush is making an attack."

Please quote the part of the speech where that comparison is made. Or you could just make it up, like you did my "quotation".

"I don't see how you could have honestly come to your conclusion that Bush wasn't talking about his domestic political opposition."

I never concluded that or stated it. Good God, is there no end to you playing the fool?


"No, Dubya didn't directly name names, but that's not the part of your comment that I'm objecting to."

Oh no? Then why follow that up with this boner?

"Your assertion: "The only person criticized directly by this passage is a long-dead Republcian Senator" doesn't stand up to scrutiny."

The words of the speech speak for themselves- the only person directly criticized was the person directly quoted- it's a well-known quote. That doesn't mean someone else wasn't referred to or criticized by inference, it simply means they weren't criticized directly. Since none of the leading Democratic office-holders share the opinions that Bush denounced, it isn't even accurate to say he bad-mouthed their opinions.

So, to sum up, the rest of us are not responsible for your loose grasp on English; not everyone who disagrees with your tortured and screaming illogic is a Republican; and maybe hooked on phonics or one of those Evelyn Woods thingies could help you keep up with the discussion. Or not.

Posted by: solar on May 16, 2008 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

This is fun- in the same sense kicking puppies or clubbing baby seals is:

"In debate, insult is the last refuge of those who have no argument"

From the same dishonest illiterate who brought you:

"So says the expert idjit"


More proof (as if any was needed) that you don't know what the words "referring to" and "directly" mean, and in fact think that they, and probably many other words (such as blankie, binkie, wahwah) are one and the same:

"I made no claim as to who he was "referring to"

Yes, you did. Here's your original quote:

The only person criticized directly by this passage is a long-dead Republcian Senator."

In the too stupid to live category, first prize:

"Obama never said that we should talk to Iran, Syria, or Hamas?"

Obama never said that we should appease any of the above or that mere words would convince them to alter their actions, which is the opinion attacked and illustrated by a direct (oops sorry, trying to limit this to words you know) quote.

Posted by: solar on May 16, 2008 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, exactly what did Pres. Bush say that was "ridiculous?" The idea that you can't talk reason to people with whom you are in a death struggle? Or his statement that he rejects the advice of those (you know who you are) who say the US would be safer if it cut ties with Israel?

Now I know there are theoretical political scientists who argue that you can, indeed, try to find common ground with mortal enemies who are bent on your destruction. So it's not utterly ridiculous to suggest that, as Sen. Obama has done. But I fail to see how you can characterize as "ridiculous" the fairly common sense concept that mortal enemies have to defeated, not bargained with.

Posted by: DBL on May 16, 2008 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

DBL wrote: "Kevin, exactly what did Pres. Bush say that was 'ridiculous?' The idea that you can't talk reason to people with whom you are in a death struggle?"

The idea that the United States of America is in "a death struggle" with any nation is ridiculous. If you actually believe that then you are ridiculous. If you believe that the USA is in a "death struggle" with Iran in particular, then you are particularly ridiculous.

On the other hand, the human race itself is in a "death struggle" -- against its mortal enemies ignorance, greed and hatred. And George W. Bush is on the wrong side of that strugggle.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 16, 2008 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

If he had said what he said in Colombia, Georgia, or (I can't think of too many other friendly places for GWB), you're right no biggie. But this is an election. And the Georgian vote isn't "in play".

Posted by: wren on May 16, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

thersites got it right. There's a big difference between politics and campaigning. Public campaigning in an official capacity on foreign soil--which is the line Bush crossed--should continue to be heavily frowned upon.

As to Haggai's point, such a hypothetical speech should stop at "best for Israel"; the rest of the hypothetical points would add nothing, and would be justifiably criticized as gratuitous partisan sniping.

Posted by: has407 on May 16, 2008 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

OTOH, if that's the new reality, maybe Obama should start planning a worldwide campaign tour.

Posted by: has407 on May 16, 2008 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Israel's death struggle with Palestinians and Lebanon's Shiites has as much validity as Nazi Germany's death struggle with European Jews and Gypsies.

Israel's death struggle with Iran has as much validiity as the United States' death struggle with Saddam.

The struggling that is going on in the Middle East are really the death throes of the weak, whose civilians have been pounded to dust with gifted overwhelming force from the US. Now that those people have decided to defend themselves, the strong hide behind the argument that their existence is at stake to justify their mass murdering. Could anything less be expected from the offspring of the Kapos?

Posted by: Brojo on May 16, 2008 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo: Do you even read the crap you write? Seriously. What exactly the fuck are you trying to convey above with your convoluted, strained prose and nonsensical analogies? Does anyone have a fucking clue? Are you just randomly selecting words from a Thesarus and throwing in the odd historical term just for good measure?

Posted by: Pat on May 16, 2008 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

solar @ 3:42 PM - "Some seem to believe that we should negotiatate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenuous argument will persuade them...We have heard this foolish delusion before...to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has repeatedly been discredited by history."
The paragraph you cited is simply a partisan, Republican talking point straight from Karl Rove's playbook - assert that a terrorist and a radical are the same. Not true. Assert that "some people" want to negotiate with "terrorists and radicals". Not true. Assert that "negotiations" are the same as "appeasement". Again, not true. By attempting to equate "terrorists" and "radicals", Bush has branded any talks with "radicals" (one group) as appeasement to "terrorists" (a second group). Talk about your Rovian logic!
I find it impossible to believe that Bush was unaware the impact of his using the word "appeasement" would have on members of the Knesset and Israelis in general, as it was the first step on the road that led to the Holocaust. Nor do I believe he was unaware of the impact it might have in the US - for that see grapecrush @ 3:26 PM.

Posted by: Doug on May 16, 2008 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Although WWII exacerbated the situation, the establishment of concentration camps and the persecution of Jews (and others) in Germany predate the outbreak of WWII; e.g., Dachau was established in 1933; the Nuremberg Laws were passed in 1935.

Posted by: has407 on May 16, 2008 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is pissed at Carter, so he says. This is what Carter is saying.

The problem is not that I met with Hamas in Syria, he said. The problem is that Israel and the United States refuse to meet with someone who must be involved.

Carter also says that Hamas will support a ten year peace if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders.

The problem is not whether Hamas will implement peace, but that Israel sees no need to do a deal with Hamas.

But Carter knew this going in. Why did Jimmy go meet Hamas anyway? Why did Hamas meet with Carter?

These unanswered questions are problems for Democrats to deal with. Carter got some information from Hamas, but other than that, all Carter did was leave a bunch of Paslestinians are simply pissed off and a bunch of progressives looking stupid.


Posted by: Matt on May 16, 2008 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

Bush should have used his speech to the Knesset to apologize for his grandfather Prescott helping fund the Nazi war machine which ended up killing millions of Jews and for his dad selling Hawk missiles clandestinely to Israel's sworn enemy, Iran.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 16, 2008 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

wong again kevin.

integrity and principals matter. so do duty and loyalty based on the obligations of one's position... in this case the fucking President! If George Washington and the rest of our great Presidents' had George Bush and your attitued, we would have lost our consitituon aling before we lost it during the last 8 years.

Wake up and smell the fucking decay of our civqal rights and consituion.

don't be so urbane blazee about unmitigtate inempt and corrup leadership.

On a basi level, what George did is equivalent to a guy makeing obsene jokes about his wife with his buddies. May be good for a laupha nd short term gain, but it irrevokable irrodes the marrigae ane the guys' reputation.

Posted by: plato on May 16, 2008 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

SA,

It's nice to hear from you again.

I guess it's fair to say that Iran is not currently powerful enough to do to the US what its leaders say they would like to do. To that extent, I suppose, you could say we are not in a mortal struggle. But that would require ignoring thirty years of Iran-financed and directed terrorism against the US and its allies. You, I think, view those attacks as a price of doing business. I don't.

Best regards.

Posted by: DBL on May 16, 2008 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

Let's get serious for a moment.

Is Obama saying that as president he would sit down for direct talks with the leaders of Iran, Venezuela, etc.? I think it is well understood that it is a disaster for the leaders of hostile countries to sit down for face to face meetings unless their underlings have laid the foundations by meeting for months and hammering out all but the final details of some accord. If that pipe is not laid, then the face to face meeting will produce nothing better than disappointment and in all likelihood will lead to worse relations. When Nixon went to China, that was preceded by much work done by Kissinger. If that is all Obama is calling for, great.

The problem is that the US government has been trying to open channels to Iran ever since the Carter administration. Every effort has been rebuffed. Even today, there are low-level discussions between American and Iranian officials in Iraq and other places. So far as I can tell from reading the newspapers, they haven't gone anywhere.

Just having face to face meetings with foreign dictators, without having a pre-agreement in place, has other bad consequences as well. For one thing, such meetings enhance the reputation of the dictator and, even more importantly, they dishearten the dictator's domestic opposition.

It would be nice if Obama, the famously intelligent Harvard Law Review President, bothered to address some of these nuances. My guess is he hasn't thought about them, and he's just playing to the Democratic Party's pacifist wing.

Posted by: DBL on May 16, 2008 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Doug, of course it's a Republican talking point, which is why it's foolish to leap up and claim it applies to your position. BTW, as one might imagine, references to appeasement and Nazis are routine in Israeli political discourse.

Posted by: solar on May 16, 2008 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

solar -- If it is in fact a Republican talking point, it is not "foolish" to assume that it is a partisan attack. While that may be a cynical interpretation, it is more than justified.

Posted by: has407 on May 17, 2008 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

1. He used a Hitler/Nazi analogy in Israel. I think that makes it especially bad.

2.He wasn't merely overseas, He was addressing a foreign parliament. If he launched a political attack outside a Tel Aviv hotel the waters' edge rule might be the only issue, but he was addressing a parliament commemorating it's country's 60th anniversary.

Posted by: Mike on May 17, 2008 at 3:59 AM | PERMALINK

solar on May 16, 2008 at 5:18 PM:

Since I made no argument in support of Bush

Really?

solar on May 16, 2008 at 2:21 PM: As no American politician or party is mentioned, and no one's (at least no Democratic candidate for President) actual policy position is criticized, how can [that section of Bush's speech] be a smear?

The difference between directly and by inference continues to elude you.

You still seem to think that clinging to a definintion of 'directly' validates your argument in support of Bush?

Face it; your argument that Bush's smear wasn't a smear - for the reason you've given - is wrong. Insulting me because you are wrong is not going to make your argument correct, and it makes you look foolish and dishonest.

solar on May 16, 2008 at 11:07 PM:

..of course it's a Republican talking point, which is why it's foolish to leap up and claim it applies to your position.

So you just let the talking point - which was a dig against you, not some long-dead Senator - lay out there without refutation and let it fester?

Yeah, that worked well for Kerry in '04, didn't it?

BTW, as one might imagine, references to appeasement and Nazis are routine in Israeli political discourse.

The problem with that is that Bush isn't Israeli.

Posted by: grape_crush on May 17, 2008 at 6:45 AM | PERMALINK

Oh if Obama when over there and made some sort of political comments - he be compared to MoveOn.org and the General Betray Us. And we all get the loudest complain of all from people like Kevin Drum - rushing in to condemn him.

How dare Obama go over there and say anything political - and then Kevin would say, "we would expect this from Republicans but not from Democrats".

This bit where it's okay for them to attack Dems but not for the Dem Party to respond for labels of "Hysterical Diatribe", and thus not be able to say anything at all their defense is BULLSHIT.

I would expect post like this from Republicans, yes, but Republicans who I suspect have a pretense to being Democrat? We'll we expect it from Kevin Drum don't we.

This message is clear, Dems have the right to be labeled with "Hysterical Diatribe" and to shut up about it.

And weaker the Republican Party gets the more frantic Kevin Drum gets to push the Repugs own version of "Hysterical Diatribe".

WHY IS THAT?

In fact we should expect to hear more "Hysterical Diatribe" from the lacks of Peter Beinhart, Joe Klein and Kevin Drum - coming out and trashing Dems for responding to criticism with more of these "shame on you" tactics.


Posted by: Me-again on May 17, 2008 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

foreign dictators

Both President Hugo and President Ahmadinejad were elected by limited democratic processes, just like our president. The refusal to talk to them stems from their hostility to our military and economic hegemony that we would use to dominate their political economies, as our nation has done in the past. They reject US authority to dictate their respective countries' politics, and this begins the propaganda themes that they are hostile to Americans and our supposed values of freedom and liberty. Those propaganda themes are created by the defense-petro-finance industrial complexes and abetted by cultural-political forces like the evangelical and Zionist political movements, which are spiritually authoritarian complimentary to the physical authority wielded by capital.

Posted by: Brojo on May 17, 2008 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

"I guess it's fair to say that Iran is not currently powerful enough to do to the US what its leaders say they would like to do."

You "guess"? Oh, how big of you. By the way, just what have "its leaders" said they would like to do? And just why should we take that rhetoric any more seriously than we take any of the other extravagant rhetoric that comes from various individuals, groups, and governments, including our own?

"To that extent, I suppose, you could say we are not in a mortal struggle."

No shit, Sherlock.

"But that would require ignoring thirty years of Iran-financed and directed terrorism against the US and its allies."

ROFL.... Thanks for confirming that you're not serious.

"Let's get serious for a moment."

See above.

"Is Obama saying that as president he would sit down for direct talks with the leaders of Iran, Venezuela, etc.?"

Not really.

"I think it is well understood that it is a disaster for the leaders of hostile countries to sit down for face to face meetings unless their underlings have laid the foundations by meeting for months and hammering out all but the final details of some accord."

ROFLMAO.... Dear heart, has it ever occurred to you that Obama never said that he would not follow appropriate protocols and procedures, which means that your argument is a very non-serious strawman argument, and a rather silly and clumsy one at that.

"The problem is that the US government has been trying to open channels to Iran ever since the Carter administration. Every effort has been rebuffed."

Um, no. This statement is completely inaccurate. You really should learn to pick up information from other sources.

"Just having face to face meetings with foreign dictators, without having a pre-agreement in place, has other bad consequences as well. For one thing, such meetings enhance the reputation of the dictator and, even more importantly, they dishearten the dictator's domestic opposition."

ROFL.... Dear heart, you do realize how silly this statement is, right? You don't? Oh, dear, I'm so sorry.

"It would be nice if Obama, the famously intelligent Harvard Law Review President, bothered to address some of these nuances."

Dear heart, you wouldn't know "nuance" if it bit you in the ass.

"My guess is he hasn't thought about them"

My guess is that you're a moron. There is far more evidence to support my "guess" than there is yours.

"and he's just playing to the Democratic Party's pacifist wing."

Oh, you mean like the majority of Americans? Not to mention the majority of Israelis? See you in November.

Posted by: PaulB on May 17, 2008 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on May 17, 2008 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

DBL wrote: "I guess it's fair to say that Iran is not currently powerful enough to do to the US what its leaders say they would like to do."

Such as the leader of Iran saying that nuclear weapons are against Islam and therefore Iran does not and will not seek to possess them?

Do you support the Bush administration's announced policy of assisting Saudi Arabia to develop the exact same civilian nuclear capabilities that Iran is currently working to develop?

Do you realize that Iran's nuclear development activities are entirely legal within its rights under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to which it is a signatory, while Israel's development of nuclear weapons is a violation of that Treaty, which Israel has refused to sign?

Do you realize that even though the entire world knows that Israel possesses nuclear weapons, that Israel refuses to acknowledge this fact, and the government of the USA also refuses to acknowledge it, because to do so would mean that the USA would have to place punitive sanctions on Israel?


Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 17, 2008 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Is mhr still ejaculating around here?

Kevin, how would Obama giving a foreign-policy speech abroad be the same as politics purely for domestic consumption -- especially the kind based on lies and fabrications?

By the way, McSane claimed yesterday that the U.S. never negotiated with Iran over the hostages taken there in 1979. Oh, and the South won the Civil War.

Posted by: on May 17, 2008 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, how come the system doesn't recognize personal info anymore? Actually, it's been more than a year.

Posted by: Kenji on May 17, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

McSane claimed yesterday that the U.S. never negotiated with Iran over the hostages

Lovely. First he's Dole without the humor, then he's Reagan without the charm. Can we have the rapture now, please?

Posted by: thersites on May 17, 2008 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, how come the system doesn't recognize personal info anymore?
My guess is that they tried to add logic to automatically translate mhr's posts to "*" and lighten the mods' workload, but something has gone terribly wrong.

Posted by: rhm on May 17, 2008 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

on May 17, 2008 at 2:11 PM: ...McSane claimed yesterday that the U.S. never negotiated with Iran over the hostages...

Necessary to elide the 1981 Algiers Accords, which included (among other things):

Point I: Non-Intervention in Iranian Affairs

1. The United States pledges that it is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran's internal affairs.

More here.

Posted by: has407 on May 18, 2008 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

"I guess it's fair to say that Iran is not currently powerful enough to do to the US what its leaders say they would like to do."

I missed the news clip of Khamenei, Ahmadinejad or Rafsanjani singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb the States." Perhaps you can give me some quotes. Admittedly, I don't speak Farsi so I'll just have to assume your translations are accurate.

(Does any other country in the world have politicians that routinely say things as incendiary as you Yanks? Oops, that's right. It's okay for you to say these things. You're exceptional. You're Yanks... You've a huge fucking mote in your own eye, DBL)

Posted by: snicker-snack on May 18, 2008 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

SA,

Has Israel threatened any nation with nuclear destruction? Please give me the cite, I must have missed it. Has it threatened the US? Has it sent terrorists to foreign countries to plant bombs (let's not forget the bomb Iranian agents set off in Argentina)? You think Israeli attacks on terrorists who hide behind civilians (and hiding behind civilians, as Hezbollah and Hamas and Fatah and all the Arab "fighters" do routinely, violates every law of war), are acts of aggression rather than self-defense? Don't be ridiculous; the day the Arab and Moslem world stops attacking Israel will the day the Israelis stop attacking them. It won't even take a day. All the Arabs have to do is stop fighting. No more rockets, no more bombs, no more snipers, no more kidnapping. Do you have the slightest doubt that if they did that the war between the Arabs and Israel would stop? What do you think would happen? Do you suppose that the IDF would respond to the Arabs laying down their arms by bombing Cairo and Damascus and dropping cluster bombs up and down the Gaza Strip? Don't be crazy.

You understand this surely. Your problem is that you think the Arabs' 60-year-old war against Israel is justified and you wish them every success. Why not just admit this?

Israel violated no international law or treaties in developing nuclear weapons, as I am sure you are aware. Iran has been condemned by the UN for its violations of international law in developing nukes, and given the extreme anti-American, anti-Western bias of the UN, that's remarkable, and is due to the blatant F*** you attitude of the Iranians.

snicker-snack - If I'm not mistaken, the slogan "Death to America" is prominently used by Iranian leaders. From a report last September, which is not untypical: "On the eve of his trip to New York City, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stood before a banner blaring 'Death to America.'" Perhaps you think we should just take this as empty rhetoric, like Obama's "We are the change we've been waiting for."

In any event, ss, don't worry, there is no chance that the US is going to bomb the crap out of the Iranian uranium enrichment facilities. Rather, the Israelis will, because an Iranian nuke represents a mortal threat to Israel for the very reason that the Iranian leader said he wanted a bomb - because in a nuclear exchange between the large country of Iran and the tiny country of Israel, Iran is likely to survive and Israel is not. I suppose you think that would be a blessing.

Posted by: DBL on May 18, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Bush advocates Americans to follow like lemmings the most extreme elements in the Israeli government.If the Israelis wanted peace they would not go on building more settlements. Why should we go on paying with blood and treasure what these extremist people decide. So now our intimidated candidates will go and bow to AIPAC. Nothing to be proud of. What he said he could only say in the Knesset, pandering to the Israeli lobby.

There are many Israelis and Americans who believe the Palestinian people have god given rights too, but our politicians don't have the moral integrity to say so. All they worry about is getting elected.

Posted by: Renate on May 18, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

The United States planted 400 bombs in Iraq in an attempt to terrorize the Iraqis and possibly assassinate their leader. What has Iran done that compares?

Idiots like DBL were certain Saddam Hussein was behind every terrorist action, now that he is gone they have fixated on Iran. Same shit, different day. It's all about the cowardice and racism.

Posted by: the on May 18, 2008 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Is there any sense of proportion in this country?

Washington is so corrupt they don't even obey the laws,or respect the Constitution or UN Charter on aggression, and we're worried about etiquette?

Posted by: Luther on May 19, 2008 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

this business about politics stopping at water's edge has always been overblown, honored more in the breach than the observance

Oh really? Name one example before Bush's disgraceful performance. A U.S. President, acting in his official capacity, before an audience abroad, making domestically aimed political attacks.

Posted by: Nell on May 19, 2008 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Nell,

I'd be happy to take up your invitation.

We could start with Jimmy Carter's numerous trips abroad during which he has attacked President Bush. I can't think of a single prior example of an American former president doing anything remotely like that. Indeed, until Mr. Carter stumbled along, former presidents managed to show a certain respect for the office by staying out of politics.

We could also look at La Pelosi's pilgrimage to Damascus, but why bother.

In any event, only a person with a certain extreme sensitivity to Obama's weakness on national security issues would even read President Bush's remarks in Israel as an attack on Obama. Well, I guess the truth hurts.

Posted by: DBL on May 19, 2008 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Um, DBL? "A U.S. President acting in his official capacity" does not include Jimmy Carter any time after January 1980, nor Nancy Pelosi any time ever.

On the larger issue, I think Kevin's wrong because he's looking at this from the perspective of the American people. It's not all about you and the magazines you read and TV you watch. It's about the audience who's there at the time -- in this case, Israeli diplomats and lawmakers. Having Bush speak before them about people in his country with whom he disagrees is (no pun intended) bush-league. It's like bringing up a marital dispute in front of a friend -- do they really care to know about or referee a debate over whether glasses should go in the drainer rightside-up or upside-down?

The thing that makes this even more distasteful is that the discussion was not about some random partisan disagreement, it was about *Israel*. Imagine Tony Blair appearing before Congress saying "You know, there are plenty of people in my country who say you blokes all suck, my potential successor among them. Well, I couldn't disagree more." Does that strike you as at all statesman-like? And how does that help relations between the countries after that successor takes office?

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Posted by: test acai berries on December 7, 2010 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

John decided to take my advice. Next time he has a presentation to give, he will use grademypresentation.com to get feedback before he delivers it. Luckily I saved him from dying a painful death in the poisonous bushes.

Posted by: BioBasics on March 17, 2011 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK
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