Maybe Bush referred to … France

posted at 7:25 am on May 19, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama, with a huge assist from the American media, accused George Bush of playing electoral politics with his otherwise unremarkable and rather general condemnation of appeasement in the Israeli Knesset. Bush never mentioned anyone by name and only made one reference to a specific person in the speech, a Republican Senator in 1939, but he did frame the remarks by referring to those who had suggested that we cut ties to Israel and engage with their enemies in terrorist groups like Hamas. Now the country whose ambassador to Britain once called Israel a “s****y little country” reveals that they have indeed engaged Hamas, at least informally:

France has had informal contacts with Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that rules Gaza, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Monday.

Kouchner, speaking on Europe-1 radio, was confirming a report in the daily Le Figaro that quoted a retired diplomat as saying he met with Hamas leaders a month ago.

Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States. Fatah had dominated Palestinian politics for decades, but was trounced by Hamas in 2006 parliamentary elections. In June 2007, the militant Islamic group took Gaza by force, triggering a crisis among Palestinians.

France has had contacts with Hamas leaders “for several months,” Kouchner said, adding that France was not in formal negotiations. “These are not relations, they are contacts. We must be able to talk if we want to play a role,” the minister said.

A series of contacts constitutes relations, regardless of whatever sophistry Kouchner utilizes. It’s a distinction without a difference, and it flies in the face of the West’s stated policy of non-negotiation with terrorist groups. The more outrageous aspect of it is that Hamas doesn’t target France. How would France react if Israel began a series of “contacts” with ETA in order to “play a role” in resolving the standoff with Basque separatists?

Whatever the international community rewards, it will encourage to increase. If Hamas gets diplomatic engagement without forswearing terrorism and Israel’s destruction, what would motivate them to abandon those positions? Regardless of what Kouchner claims, Hamas isn’t engaged in a border dispute with Israel, they have an existential struggle against the Israelis, and they prove it every time a missile lands in Sderot and Ashkelon.

At least ETA recognizes France’s right to exist.

Given this revelation, and the likelihood that the US already knew about these diplomatic engagements between France and Hamas, the Bush speech appears to quite obviously reference this without explicitly embarrassing France. Let’s go back to the speech (via The Anchoress):

And that is why the founding charter of Hamas calls for the “elimination” of Israel. And that is why the followers of Hezbollah chant “Death to Israel, Death to America!” That is why Osama bin Laden teaches that “the killing of Jews and Americans is one of the biggest duties.” And that is why the President of Iran dreams of returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages and calls for Israel to be wiped off the map.

There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain away their words. It’s natural, but it is deadly wrong. As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously. Jews and Americans have seen the consequences of disregarding the words of leaders who espouse hatred. And that is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century.

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.

With Kouchner’s statement, the French seem the most likely reference for this disputed section of Bush’s rejection of appeasement, not Barack Obama and the Democrats. Unless they have changed positions lately, the Democrats have never publicly suggested that the US cut ties with Israel, but we certainly have heard voices in Europe suggesting that over the year, before and after Oslo. The appeasers are the ones talking with terrorists to see how moderate they can get while still demanding the destruction of Israel and using terrorism against civilians to strengthen their political hand.

If Obama wants to volunteer that he should be cast into the same lot as Kouchner, then that’s his decision — but it looks pretty obvious that neither he nor the media paid attention to the speech or the situation with Hamas. Obama threw himself under a bus that wasn’t rolling in his direction at all.


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Obama naturally thought the speech referred to him because he recognized his own beliefs being described in 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.”).

As for the French, their “contacts=(not)relations” sounds a lot like Obama’s “no precondtions=preparations” nonsense. It’s the kind of crap that results when you combine a naive and foolish world view with an overweening sense of intellectual superiority (the latter of which convinces you that everyone else is a gullible fool whom you can easily confuse with a little wordplay BS).

AZCoyote on May 19, 2008 at 7:40 AM

Bingo! Now, why did Obama jump so high so fast?

Maybe the same reason he doesn’t want us to see the man behind the curtain, are you ready for malaise part deux?
DKK

LifeTrek on May 19, 2008 at 7:40 AM

If Obama wants to volunteer that he should be cast into the same lot as Kouchner, then that’s his decision — but it looks pretty obvious that neither he nor the media paid attention to the speech or the situation with Hamas. Obama threw himself under a bus that wasn’t rolling in his direction at all.

This is why GWB must not be seen in public before the election. GWB is a lightning rod and to the extent he gets injected into the race, all it will do is boost Obama. I bet Obama’s head-to-head numbers against McCain rise this week based on Bush’s speech, even though (1) the speech wasn’t an attack on Obama and (2) Obama badly fumbled his response. This is just another example of how the unholy combination of a biased media and a 5:1 fundraising advantage will all but guarantee that Jimmy Carter II a/k/a Obama gets elected.

Outlander on May 19, 2008 at 7:42 AM

Does anyone who posts on this board honestly think that O’Bama will be our next president?

He is proving to all of us daily by some moronic statement made by him or his wife that he is not qualified to even be the damn dog catcher of my home county.

I say it will be a Mondale repeat this Nov.

Winebabe on May 19, 2008 at 7:47 AM

Does anyone who posts on this board honestly think that O’Bama will be our next president?

He is proving to all of us daily by some moronic statement made by him or his wife that he is not qualified to even be the damn dog catcher of my home county.

I say it will be a Mondale repeat this Nov.

Winebabe on May 19, 2008 at 7:47 AM

I hope you’re right, but never underestimate an opponent when the stakes are this high. Further, don’t underestimate the role of a biased press. Remember, they’re not just ideologically for Obama, they’re emotionally involved a la Chris Matthews leg. They will destroy every remaining shred of credibility they have to shill for Obama.

trubble on May 19, 2008 at 7:57 AM

It’s all about the O — The Obamassiah.

rbj on May 19, 2008 at 8:04 AM

It’s the hit dog who yells.”

Even if the hit was only accidental.

(I thought Bush was castigating appeasement-oriented members of the Knesset, since he was speaking to the Knesset, but that would be too logical for the Dems.)

But Barry yelped.

Obummer.

profitsbeard on May 19, 2008 at 8:24 AM

Winebabe on May 19, 2008 at 7:47 AM

No, I don’t believe this rookie will win the MVP spot… We will have a black president one day; that person might be Obama, but not in 2008. I think most Americans have lost faith in our politicians and the entire political mechanism governing our country. Congress can’t seem to pass anything that actually works for the people, the differences between the two parties seem to be non existence, and the corruption between the two parties is out of control. We have a media that works against the people; politicians that are in debt to outside interests; foreign influence sitting in most every high ranking political position possible; judges who are making law rather than enforcing law; a country that houses the majority of lawyers in the world; a congress that continually opens doors for lawyers at the expense of the people….

Washington DC is broken… Romney had it right.

Keemo on May 19, 2008 at 8:31 AM

Or, he thought it was about him because a member of his staff admitted it was directed towards him?

Typhonsentra on May 19, 2008 at 8:35 AM

This is why GWB must not be seen in public before the election. GWB is a lightning rod and to the extent he gets injected into the race, all it will do is boost Obama. I bet Obama’s head-to-head numbers against McCain rise this week based on Bush’s speech, even though (1) the speech wasn’t an attack on Obama and (2) Obama badly fumbled his response. This is just another example of how the unholy combination of a biased media and a 5:1 fundraising advantage will all but guarantee that Jimmy Carter II a/k/a Obama gets elected.

Outlander on May 19, 2008 at 7:42 AM

If the general election was the day after Memorial Day, this would be a problem. But in the long run, what McCain and Obama’s poll numbers are will be decided by what happens later this summer and in the fall. Having Bush out on the campaign trail might hurt then, but to hermetically seal him up in the White House right now is silly, even if the Democrats want to tie him to McCain

Bush’s remarks weren’t directed at Obama, but he and the other Democrats are so paranoid about Barak being “swiftboated” they jumped at the statement and made it about Obama themselves. If they want to drag the president into the race by making people focus on Obama’s statements on negotiating with Iraq, the long-term damage will be to Barak’s credibility, no matter what this week’s poll numbers show.

jon1979 on May 19, 2008 at 8:36 AM

Bush’s remarks weren’t directed at Obama, but he and the other Democrats are so paranoid about Barak being “swiftboated” they jumped at the statement and made it about Obama themselves. If they want to drag the president into the race by making people focus on Obama’s statements on negotiating with Iraq, the long-term damage will be to Barak’s credibility, no matter what this week’s poll numbers show.
jon1979 on May 19, 2008 at 8:36 AM

True, but remember the old saying, “if you tell a lie enough times it can become the truth.” Right now, the public spin is “Bush made controversial remarks and Obama responded to them.” It’s up to McCain to expose Obama for being a glass-jawed limousine liberal, and I’m not sure McCain has the stomach to do it. Republican-leaning 527s won’t have the money this year to effectively do it either.

Outlander on May 19, 2008 at 9:07 AM

“The wicked flee when no man pursueth.”

TooTall on May 19, 2008 at 9:08 AM

Further, don’t underestimate the role of a biased press. trubble on May 19, 2008 at 7:57 AM

Heeding trubble’s words, we should all be prepared for the barrage of insults and outright lies the left-wing media will regurgitate in the fall. The DNC will rely on minions like Krugman, Dowd et all. For those that don’t understand the political positioning, McCains “embracement” of global warming issues are to neutralize Al Gore’s wing of nutbaggery. In fact, the very positions that conservatives hate the most about McCain takes the Bush3 mantra off the dems talking points. Make no mistake, it will be the media that will drive the DNC with an endless supply of garbage in the guise of “the truth”.

Rovin on May 19, 2008 at 9:24 AM

This is why GWB must not be seen in public before the election. GWB is a lightning rod and to the extent he gets injected into the race, all it will do is boost Obama.

Outlander on May 19, 2008 at 7:42 AM

I respectfully disagree. What this has done is expose obambi for what he is. I don’t believe the American People aren’t as dumb as you make them out to be. Time will tell, but this was a stunningly stupid move by the obambi team, the dems, and the media.

techno_barbarian on May 19, 2008 at 9:32 AM

It’s up to McCain to expose Obama for being a glass-jawed limousine liberal, and I’m not sure McCain has the stomach to do it. Republican-leaning 527s won’t have the money this year to effectively do it either.

Outlander on May 19, 2008 at 9:07 AM

McC’s already responded, and pretty effectively too. The dems and media have been self-destructing for a long time now. The gop isn’t in much better shape. But the media that’s propped the dems up for so long is about to take them all the way down, due to their overt and undeniable bias.

It’s going to be an interesting Summer and Fall.

techno_barbarian on May 19, 2008 at 9:36 AM

I don’t believe the American People are as dumb as you make them out to be.

Doh! Need more coffee…

techno_barbarian on May 19, 2008 at 9:38 AM

Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, has always been a controversial figure. He has been a charitable do-gooder for decades as head of Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), and has performed many honestly humanitarian works for the poor in many countries, but was an avowed Socialist and campaigned for previous Socialist politicians in France. Conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy’s appointment of Kouchner as Foreign Minister was an effort to “reach out” to the French left in order to broaden his base, but Kouchner has a reputation in France for opening mouth and inserting foot without considering the consequences, including recommending bombing Iran’s nuclear plants (something a lot of people might be considering, but it’s unwise for a Foreign Minister to state that publicly, unless the country has the military strength to do it and withstand the retaliation, which France does not).

President Bush, to his credit, did not name those he accuses of believing that terrorists can be talked into believing they were wrong and backing down from their threats, and he only mentioned an American Senator from 1939, when Bush, Obama, and Hillary Clinton hadn’t been born yet, and McCain was seven years old.

Perhaps Bush was referring to Kouchner, in an oblique warning to Sarkozy, who is much more pro-American than his predecessor, Jacques Chirac. The fact that Obama took Bush’s attack on unnamed “appeasers” on himself showed his true colors–essentially Obama pleaded guilty to being a willing appeaser.

During a Democrat debate last fall, Obama expressed his willingness to meet foreign dictators without pre-conditions, and Hillary chastised this attitude as “dangerous and naive”. Republicans can always play back Obama’s positions, and Hillary’s response, in ads during the fall campaign, without reference to Bush, and this will hurt Obama, not McCain.

Steve Z on May 19, 2008 at 9:41 AM

This is why GWB must not be seen in public before the election. GWB is a lightning rod and to the extent he gets injected into the race, all it will do is boost Obama.

Outlander on May 19, 2008 at 7:42 AM

“Which brings us to George W. Bush, the least popular president of modern times. Unlikely as it sounds, the soon-to-be former president needs to get out of the White House, reenter the political arena (much as it will pain him) and go around the country telling us two things: First, we are winning in Iraq; second, the economy is not as bad as most people think. With the Dow at around 12,800 and unemployment at 5 percent, Bush can make a good case that things aren’t really headed for the rocks.” Dick Morris

I tend to agree with Mr. Morris on this one. The MSM has pounded on the economic conditions fueled by the price of gas. (pun intended). It should be pointed out that the democratically controlled House and Senate has done virtually nothing for the better part of two years to reduce our foreign oil dependence. And a “Major Combat Mission in Final Phase” announcement would not hurt.

Rovin on May 19, 2008 at 10:03 AM

Does anyone who posts on this board honestly think that O’Bama will be our next president?

He is proving to all of us daily by some moronic statement made by him or his wife that he is not qualified to even be the damn dog catcher of my home county.

I say it will be a Mondale repeat this Nov.

Winebabe on May 19, 2008 at 7:47 AM

Did you see the picture on Drudge of the crowd (estimated at 75,000!) that came to hear Obambi in Portland yesterday—just for a primary!

This isn’t Harry Truman standing on the platform of the observation car and speaking to a handful of people. And it certainly isn’t Walter Mondull (thanks, Rush) sleep-walking through his campaign. This is a mass movement, and there is nothing more dangerous for a representative Republic.

Now arguably the grownups will show up to the polls and vote for McCain, but if enough disenchanted conservatives can’t hold their noses long enough, and decide to stay home, the Obambi-enthralled kiddies and moonbats could give Obambi an Electoral-College victory.

Then Israel will really have something to worry about. President Bush’s critique of Islamist appeasers was definitely aimed at the liberals and peaceniks in this country as well as in France, and Obambi was correct to include himself, if foolish to admit it. But the moonbats don’t think they are ‘appeasers’; they view the world through emotion-colored glasses, and see only the ‘underlying reasons’ and ‘legitimate concerns’ why the poor disenfranchised Palestinians engage in terrorism.

What is perplexing is how blinkered the Jewish community is, how they fail to see Obambi for the Manchurian Candidate he is. Despite his disengenuous ‘support’ for Israel, I suspect he is firmly on the side of Farrakhan and the Muslim Brotherhood. As we and the Israelis will find out if (I hope not when) he gets elected.

MrLynn on May 19, 2008 at 10:11 AM

Unlikely as it sounds, the soon-to-be former president needs to get out of the White House, reenter the political arena (much as it will pain him) and go around the country telling us two things: First, we are winning in Iraq; second, the economy is not as bad as most people think. With the Dow at around 12,800 and unemployment at 5 percent, Bush can make a good case that things aren’t really headed for the rocks.” Dick Morris

I tend to agree with Mr. Morris on this one. The MSM has pounded on the economic conditions fueled by the price of gas. (pun intended). It should be pointed out that the democratically controlled House and Senate has done virtually nothing for the better part of two years to reduce our foreign oil dependence. And a “Major Combat Mission in Final Phase” announcement would not hurt.

Rovin on May 19, 2008 at 10:03 AM

Morris (and Rovin) are exactly right. It is long past time for the President to get out there and defend the accomplishments of his administration. He doesn’t have to campaign with McCain—just get out there on his own.

Here’s one move that will turn around public opinion on a dime:

Announce that Iraq has agreed:

(a) to ramp up oil production to double Saddam-era levels;

(b) to pay us a royalty of 5% on every barrel sold, until the cost of the Iraq liberation has been completely paid for.

That will knock a lot of the speculation out of the oil price, and send the Dow over 13,000. And W will get cheers wherever he goes.

MrLynn on May 19, 2008 at 10:20 AM

a “s****y little country”

Isn’t this how most French pols feel about most other francophone countries (Israel is 10% French-speaking) and/or former colonies?

fourstringfuror on May 19, 2008 at 10:26 AM

True, but remember the old saying, “if you tell a lie enough times it can become the truth.” Right now, the public spin is “Bush made controversial remarks and Obama responded to them.” It’s up to McCain to expose Obama for being a glass-jawed limousine liberal, and I’m not sure McCain has the stomach to do it. Republican-leaning 527s won’t have the money this year to effectively do it either.

Outlander on May 19, 2008 at 9:07 AM

McCain does have to respond, and there is a chance he’s going to use the 1996 Bob Dole strategerie, where Dole expected his friends in the media to actually report the stories about Clinton and his various scandals and was left asking “Where’s the outrage?” when they didn’t.

Where I think McCain has an advantage is the big media outlets are in such a frenzy right now to elect Obama, they can’t just not cover his foibles and flubs to help him out, but have to actively go after McCain with stories like the New York Times’ report on his alleged trading of sex for political favors that the paper had no backup evidence on. Stuff like that will force McCain to be more aggressive against Obama, if only to protect his own reputation.

jon1979 on May 19, 2008 at 11:10 AM

Obama naturally thought the speech referred to him because he recognized his own beliefs being described in the speech

I would have said “Obama naturally thought the speech referred to him because he thinks the world revolves around him

Aside from that he wanted to find a reason to create a false outrage to attack Bush and McCain with, he knew the sheep in the media wouldn’t question him and would run the story over and over again.

He has the nerve to say Bush was misleading, but why didn’t anyone compair Bush’s comments and his response and then show his 20 times talking of the “100 year War” quote and then show the true speech? Because we’d all like the see the true distortion of the facts.

Rbastid on May 19, 2008 at 11:42 AM

Non, monsieur! I did not have diplomatic relations with that country…

gridlock2 on May 19, 2008 at 11:52 AM

Obama is a two-face, liar, and un-American.

madmonkphotog on May 19, 2008 at 5:03 PM

There were 75,000 in Oregon to see B. Hussien on a Sunday afternoon. Do you honestly believe that all of them will pull the lever for Mr. Empty Suit? So what if they do? This was Portland….one of the most liberal cities next to San Francisco. Half the people there are high and don’t bathe. They do not represent middle America. If B. Hussien keeps up his foolish and reckless statements until Nov. like I believe he will………he will lose miserably. There are people I know that were all for Barry until he started revealing himself by his associations and by the statements from his big-mouthed wife. This is not a cake walk for him.

WE ARE NOT THE STUPID HAYSEED YAHOOS THAT THEY THINK WE ARE!!!!! Dammit!!

Winebabe on May 19, 2008 at 8:43 PM