Rookie mistakes again: Obama owns appeasement

posted at 2:00 pm on May 16, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

George Bush seems to have really rattled Barack Obama and the Democratic Party with his speech yesterday in the Israeli Knesset. Rather than ignoring Bush’s argument against appeasement, or adopting it, Barack Obama has declared that Bush intended his denunciation of appeasement as an attack on his campaign, even though Bush never even mentioned the nationality of modern appeasers in his speech. Obama lashed out in a speech today, calling Bush’s rhetoric “appalling”:

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.”

Obama criticized Republican rival John McCain and President Bush for “dishonest and divisive” attacks in hinting that the Democratic presidential candidate would appease terrorists.

Obama strongly responded Friday to the comments Bush made in Israel on Thursday and McCain’s subsequent words. Obama told a town hall meeting, “That’s the kind of hypocrisy that we’ve been seeing in our foreign policy, the kind of fear-peddling, fear mongering that has prevented us from actually making us safer.” …

Yesterday, Obama accused President Bush of “a false political attack” after Bush warned in Israel against appeasing terrorists — early salvos in a general election campaign that’s already blazing even as the Democratic front-runner tries to sew up his party’s nomination.

But Bush never mentioned any specific person in his speech today, and didn’t even specify that he was referring to Americans. Newsbusters has the full transcript, with this relevant part of the speech.

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.

Some people suggest if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of the enemies of peace, and America utterly rejects it. Israel’s population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because the United States of America stands with you.

No one in the US who runs for public office has suggested that the US break with Israel to appease terrorists. Obama certainly hasn’t suggested that, and perhaps apart from the really lunatic fringes of both Left and Right, that notion doesn’t get any oxygen at all here. Obviously, Bush wasn’t referring to American politicians in this passage, but instead politicians in Europe and elsewhere who have either an animus towards Israel or appreciation for dhimmitude. Nothing — and I mean nothing — in this speech points to any candidate or the Democratic Party, unless they identify themselves as the reference.

Obama and his surrogates drew those connections themselves. Instead of acknowledging the historical truth of appeasement’s failures, they chose to argue with it. Obama could have taken the smart route and embraced it to explain how he understands the lessons of appeasement, which is why his talks with Iran would not result in it. Instead, he got volcanically defensive, which suggests that even Obama sees the parallels between his everything’s-on-the-table approach and the Chamberlain diplomacy which resulted in dismantling Czechoslovakia.

And if Obama considers discussion of foreign policy “divisive”, then he should hie himself right back to Academia. Guess what, Senator? Presidential elections focus on foreign-policy principles, and if you can’t defend yours, then you have no business running for office.

Update: Newt Gingrich calls this a study in guilt:

Update II: Marc Ambinder reports that Bush meant to scold Jimmy Carter for his recent visit with Hamas, as Ed Gillespie explained to reporters in Saudi Arabia:

“We did not anticipate that it would be taken that way, because its kind of hard to take it that way when you look at the actual words. … There was some anticipation that someone might say you know its an expression of rebuke to former President Carter for having met with Hamas. that was something that was anticipated but no one wrote about it or raised it.”

And if one actually reads what Bush said, that interpretation looks a lot more likely than a supposed attack on Obama. Carter had just hugged Khaled Mashaal in Damascus and insisted that the US should open a dialogue with Hamas.

Barack Obama, meanwhile, continues to embarrass himself today at a presser on an attack that never was.


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Maybe if Mr. Appeasement (that would be Obama) is not elected President, he can get a job on CNN with media appeasers Blitzer and Cafferty.

Travis1 on May 16, 2008 at 5:24 PM

Obama owns the “Top Pics” column today!

pseudonominus on May 16, 2008 at 5:28 PM

Maybe if Mr. Appeasement (that would be Obama) is not elected President, he can get a job on CNN with media appeasers Blitzer and Cafferty.

Travis1 on May 16, 2008 at 5:24 PM

Might have to wait. McCain might have a cabinet position in mind for him. He wants Dems. in his administration.

JiangxiDad on May 16, 2008 at 5:28 PM

Captain, you disgrace yourself by not admitting such and continuing to “tote” the water for this right wing gasbag.
Monkei on May 16, 2008 at 5:00 PM

Hmmm…contradiction alert here, how can Captain “disgrace” himself by continuing to “tote water” for a right wing gasbag when you in the same post said:

For a long time I have held that George Bush was the best Democrat I have even known

Does not compute….

Liberty or Death on May 16, 2008 at 5:33 PM

Oh allow me to point you in the RIGHT direction … Carter destroyed the Democratic party … Bush destroyed the GOP. Can you see the comparison Yoda?

Monkei on May 16, 2008 at 5:12 PM

No, Sweetie, I can’t.

baldilocks on May 16, 2008 at 5:43 PM

Newt’s right. It is a study in guilt. A more stark example would be hard to imagine. And the left highlights it each time they over-react.

Now let’s press Mr. Obama to elaborate on what it is, specifically, that he would discuss with these leaders that hasn’t been discussed already?

For example, what/who would he trade for another year of ‘peace’?

petefrt on May 16, 2008 at 5:48 PM

Actually, Butters, pre-condition to a meeting means a condition that needs to be satisfied before you sit down at the table. If Rice is sitting down to the table without the other side meeting that condition, then she’s negotiating without preconditions.

jim m on May 16, 2008 at 5:51 PM

the Jackie Chiles character (modelled after Johnnie Cochran of OJ fame) in “Seinfeld” whose tagline was “I am outraged!”. Yeah, so they’re both black. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the manufactured indignation.

Paul-Cincy on May 16, 2008 at 3:24 PM

Heh, I just posted that we should start calling Obama the “Candidate of Perpetual Outrage” (COPO) or the “Candidate of Perpetual Victimhood” as it seems even when the truth is spoken or when someone calls it the way it is Obama, his handlers, and the left start in with their racist, divisive, or appalling, etc. meme.

What I find interesting is this perpetual outrage trait shared between the Candidate of Perpetual Outrage and the Religion of Perpetual Outrage…they are both perpetually outraged…is this just an odd coincidence that they have this trait in common….hmmmm….very interesting indeed…

Liberty or Death on May 16, 2008 at 6:02 PM

Looks like the appeasers know who they are, huh?

Tantor on May 16, 2008 at 3:05 PM

Exactly, if the appeaser shoe fits then wear it damn it! Especially since Obama has been bragging and proudly wearing his “appeasement shoes” throughout this campaign, that is until after Bush’s speech! Now he’s trying to say he never wore those shoes or they’re someone elses shoes.

His logic reminds me of someone else that once said they would never own a pair of ugly shoes like that, then this picture surfaced of him wearing those very same “ugly pair” of Bruno Malli’s…

Liberty or Death on May 16, 2008 at 6:17 PM

Rice is a smart cookie. Not so naive, either, given her independence. I’d vote for Rice before Obmama any day!

petefrt on May 16, 2008 at 6:21 PM

If Bush aimed at Carter and hit Obama I’d say that was a nice one.

shirgall on May 16, 2008 at 6:24 PM

August 01, 2007
The War We Need To Win
Barack Obama

And we know what the extremists say about us. America is just an occupying Army in Muslim lands, the shadow of a shrouded figure standing on a box at Abu Ghraib, the power behind the throne of a repressive leader. They say we are at war with Islam. That is the whispered line of the extremist who has nothing to offer in this battle of ideas but blame — blame America, blame progress, blame Jews…

Gosh, I could swear that that’s what you, the Democrat Party and Reverend Wright say about us (except perhaps the “we are at war against Islam” part).

Buy Danish on May 16, 2008 at 6:28 PM

Hmm…
would that be the same appeasement that Bush has been pushing on Israel regarding the Palestinians??? Ouch!

TOPV on May 16, 2008 at 6:42 PM

Also, lets not forget the USA’s sad response to Hitler…nothing, until after a few million Jews were killed.

Hey pot meet kettle.

TOPV on May 16, 2008 at 6:43 PM

George Bush has become the Jimmy Carter of the GOP.

Monkei on May 16, 2008 at 5:00 PM

How in the world is a fascist warmonger who lied us into a war for oil and hegemony abroad and who has his jackboot planted squarely on the Bill of Rights at home the Jimmy Carter of the GOP?

And look, there are Hooooovervilles springing up everywhere, the economy is so bad, but we have about 5% unemployment compared to Carter’s 10%, and an interest rate of about 2% compared to Carter’s 20+%. Anybody remember the misery index?

Yeah, Dubya is Jimmah.

misterpeasea on May 16, 2008 at 6:49 PM

Also, lets not forget the USA’s sad response to Hitler…nothing, until after a few million Jews were killed.

Hey pot meet kettle.

TOPV on May 16, 2008 at 6:43 PM

Yep, FDR, another Democrat appeaser.

misterpeasea on May 16, 2008 at 6:51 PM

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.”

Take that Obamanation! That’s right, the show does fit doesn’t it?

CliffHanger on May 16, 2008 at 6:57 PM

“show”, “shoe”… whatever.

CliffHanger on May 16, 2008 at 7:00 PM

Obama always crying wolf..

I got attacked! Thats Racism! WAHHHHH!!!!!!!

Chakra Hammer on May 16, 2008 at 8:22 PM

If George W. Bush actually wants John McCain to win then he should keep as low a profile as possible as the dems would like nothing better than to run against George W. Bush. But then maybe Goerge really wants McCain to lose so that Jeb can run in 2012 just as Hillary will really be wanting Obama to lose so that she can run in 2012.

MB4 on May 16, 2008 at 8:24 PM

Senator Biden suggested President Bush should… ”get in touch with his [own] administration.”
He went on to say…“I assume he’s going to fire his Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense,” Biden said. “They want engagement of Iran.”

Is there something in the water at Crawford, Texas? He was just there for a wedding?

J_Gocht on May 16, 2008 at 8:45 PM

WOW…!

Senator Biden calls President Bush everything but the village idiot from Crawford…!

Nuff said…!

J_Gocht on May 16, 2008 at 9:02 PM

At the risk of the 100th repeat – “If there are 100 people in the room, and someone yells out ‘Hey moron!’, and you respond…..”

Think_b4_speaking on May 16, 2008 at 9:14 PM

Actually, they may be onto something clever (in their minds), which is to accept the appeaser moniker on behalf of Obama (thinking it will not stick for long) and then clubbing McCain with supposed Bush support (ala 3rd term of Bush). Maybe too clever by half.

Think_b4_speaking on May 16, 2008 at 9:23 PM

Just in case, Joe Biden is offering the speech writing skils of Neil Kinnock.

moxie_neanderthal on May 16, 2008 at 9:24 PM

The Obama camp struck back hard for 2 reasons: Weakness.

1. Fearful of generally appearing weak in global neighborhood of thugs and killers
2. Appearing to be weak vis-à-vis Israel.

In both instances this perception hurts his already soggy support among the Jewish vote and the labor Democrat vote.

moxie_neanderthal on May 16, 2008 at 9:34 PM


You call this a political party?

Republicans are bracing for a political annihilation of epic proportions after losing a special election this week in a solidly conservative district in Mississippi — yes, Mississippi.

We can call this “a harbinger.”

A betrayal of fiscal conservatism and limited government by George Bush has fractured the Republican Party, and mending it won’t be easy. Certainly, co-opting liberal ideas and repackaging them for moderates has failed to elect a single Republican. You may wonder, then: Why does it remain the GOP game plan?

Exhibit One: Republican presidential hopeful McCain unveiled his plan to nationalize energy with a cap-and-trade system (among other nuggets). McCain, in a speech that could have easily have been delivered by Al Gore, bemoaned the “profit” motive and claimed his solutions were “market”-driven.

Republicans, sadly, have offered little else. If they believe victory can be found in convincing voters that Barack Obama (or Hillary Clinton) is a traitor or that Iraq is worth 100 years, they will lose.

It’s about time members of the GOP stopped being enablers. And a decisive defeat in November would be the perfect start.

MB4 on May 16, 2008 at 9:55 PM

I’m not a conservative. Hell, I’m not even a party guy. I just interpret the facts as I see ‘em.

Empirically, Bush has been the best President we have had dealing with the middle east since Jefferson. Yea, that includes Reagan. He wasn’t perfect, the place is a snake pit and I’m not sure Jesus could fix it in 8 years if he had deal with Congress and an uneducated American electorate. But he took action and started the ball moving the right way and here’s a bet, now that it is moving, not Obama or even Kucinich is going to be able to stop it.

History is going to be a lot kinder to Bush than the MSM.

JackStraw @ Ace of Spades

Jack made two excellent points that I haven’t read from anyone else, so I brought his comment over here. Agree as I think I do with him, or not as you may; his ideas hold water better than the denounce and burn rhetoric that I’m turning off now to enjoy the weekend.

maverick muse on May 16, 2008 at 10:14 PM

Empirically, Bush has been the best President we have had dealing with the middle east since Jefferson.

In brief, it feels like “déjà vu all over again.” As columnist Diana West puts it, “Nearly six years after September 11 — nearly six years after first visiting the Islamic Center and proclaiming ‘Islam is peace’ — Mr. Bush has learned nothing.” But we now harbor fewer hopes than in 2001 that he still can learn, absorb, and reflect an understanding of the enemy’s Islamist nature.
- Daniel Pipes

MB4 on May 16, 2008 at 10:31 PM

I’m late to comment, but the Big O is a buffoon. Bring it on!

Meanwhile, Team Hillary is turning the wrenches back stage…

T J Green on May 17, 2008 at 2:37 AM

“…But he took action and started the ball moving the right way and here’s a bet, now that it is moving, not Obama or even Kucinich is going to be able to stop it.
History is going to be a lot kinder to Bush than the MSM. JackStraw @ Ace of Spades

Except for the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds being in the mix; JackStraw has nailed it…!

J_Gocht on May 17, 2008 at 7:33 AM

Obama owns appeasement…

Not so much…

President Reagan saw no problem with it; when dealing with both Iraq and Iran.

President Bush’s granddaddy Prescott had no problem with it during WW2.

Senator McCain managed to stretch all his credulity concerning President Reagan’s using it in dealing with Iran.

It would appear that Senator Obama is the only one that wants tough, direct personal negotiations without appeasement!

J_Gocht on May 17, 2008 at 2:07 PM

It would appear that Senator Obama is the only one that wants tough, direct personal negotiations without appeasement!

J_Gocht on May 17, 2008 at 2:07 PM

Yea, just like Clinton was tough talking with North Korea right? They now have Nukes!

Chakra Hammer on May 18, 2008 at 1:01 AM

It would appear that Senator Obama is the only one that wants tough, direct personal negotiations without appeasement!

J_Gocht on May 17, 2008 at 2:07 PM

Yea, just like Clinton was tough talking with North Korea right? They now have Nukes!

Chakra Hammer on May 18, 2008 at 1:02 AM

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