Patterico's Pontifications

6/4/2008

Truthing Obamafuscations: Part Three of a Continuing Series Through November

Filed under: General — WLS @ 3:53 pm



Posted by WLS:

 I’ve passed so far on the opportunity to whack Obama for his “evolving” mash of positions on talking with Iran and other US adversaries as he suggested he would during the YouTube debate last year.

But the latest Obamafuscation of this issue today in his speech to AIPAC, and the spinning of his latest change in position as no change at all simply makes it impossible to give him a further pass.

Here’s what he said in the YouTube debate that started this whole controversy:

QUESTION: Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea?

OBAMA: “I would. And the reason is this: the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them–which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration — is ridiculous. Ronald Reagan constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when he called them an evil empire. He understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward. And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them.”

This answer has gone through several modifications over the last several months as his camp has sought to walk him back from a very narrow limb, made all the more precarious by the continued nutball threats made by

Its latest iteration was given today by Obama in his speech before AIPAC:

“As president of the United States, I would be willing to lead tough and principled diplomacy with the appropriate Iranian leader at a time and place of my choosing — if, and only if — it can advance the interests of the United States.”

Now from abcnews we get this: 

Obama campaign officials insists Obama has not change his position.

It’s not a precondition to say he’ll only do it to advance our interests,” said Obama foreign policy advisor Dennis McDonough.

McDonough says Obama has never promised to meet with Iran’s leaders. He’s simply said that he is willing to meet with Iran’s leaders.

And the key word there is willing. The idea that some have suggested is that he has promised a meeting. That is not the case and never was the case. He argued then as he argued today that he is willing to meet as it advances our interests,” McDonough told ABC News.

This is just too much to take.

First, his answer to the YouTube question was short and to the point:

“I would.”

His next comment explained the reasons why he would — not conditions upon which he would.

It was a gaffe and a blunder, nothing less. 

But for him to now try and sell us on the idea that his answer had a silent presupposition, i.e., that he would do so only if it was in our interests, is nothing less than duplicitous.

Frankly, Obama’s worldview is that its ALWAYS in our interest to talk to our adversaries, and that’s why he answered in the way he did.   I’m sure he was shocked to find out after the debate that not everyone has those same Hyde Park foreign policy sentiments.   Look at his last sentence in the answer for proof of that view — its a DISGRACE? that we we haven’t met with them?!?!?!?!  

Finally, the idea that Obama’s answer is really non-commital because the question in the YouTube debate included the word “willing,” is simply parsing at its Clintonian best.

I guess what Obama really meant for the debate watchers to understand from his answer was that he was willing to meet with those hostile leaders unless he wasn’t willing to meet with those hostile leaders.

Understand?  It all depends on what the meaning of is is.   

60 Responses to “Truthing Obamafuscations: Part Three of a Continuing Series Through November”

  1. The old cliche is that a candidate runs to their party’s activist core in the primaries and then runs back to the center in the general election. I think it is pretty clear that Obama was simply trying to court the peacenik vote when he promised to unconditionally surrender — er, talk — to Iran. Now that he has to try to win over moderate voters (not to mention Jews who may have supported Hillary Clinton) he is suddenly Mr. Tough Negotiator. No doubt he is relying upon his fawning media constituency to smooth over the inconsistencies in his positions.

    JVW (78155f)

  2. There’s your changiness.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  3. No doubt he is relying upon his fawning media constituency to smooth over the inconsistencies in his positions.

    The deadwood media will throw up roadblocks to each and every inquiry into inconsistencies of his and drive every nail they can into any perceived inconsistency of Sen. McCain. It’s their despicable way.

    cfbleachers (4040c7)

  4. “It was a gaffe and a blunder, nothing less.”

    – Leviticus

    Bullshit. It was an honest response to a question designed to elicit some roundabout oratory dodge; that’s why it shocked everyone so much.

    Obama’s response to that question was one of the few reasons I didn’t feel like a total sellout voting for him in January. It was great to hear a politician answer a foreign policy question like an adult (for a change), without the clumsy macho posturing that’s become a Washington staple ever since certain segments of the American electorate got a bee up their collective ass about the Bloodthirsty A-rabs (and Hugo Chavez, the Villainous Venezuelan)…

    … which makes Obama’s current clumsy macho posturing all the more disgusting. Whatever. Another indictment in the constant stream of indictments of the American political system. This serves only to reinforce my near-pervasive desire for a total restructuring of American government.

    Leviticus (22eefa)

  5. I agree with Leviticus.

    A leader talks to everybody. And listens to everybody.

    And then he does what his best information, knowledge, belief and duty tell him to do.

    nk (be56c0)

  6. This is just a racist distraction that is not helping Michelle keep fresh fruit in the house for their children. Did you know that Baracky’s nomination stopped the oceans from rising?

    JD (5f0e11)

  7. When he reaches for his comparisons of “talking” he seemed to rely on the examples of Reagan and JFK as proof of the wisdom of his position. That is until the JFK / Khrushchev example was shown to be of dubious value to his argument.
    He should remind people that Albright’s chatting up Dear Leader in Pyongyang emerged with Mr. So Ronery scoring nukes and a autographed Jordan basketball.

    Jack Klompus (b796b4)

  8. 6 – Yes! Apparently the Earth was “healed.”

    Jack Klompus (b796b4)

  9. “A leader talks to everybody. And listens to everybody.”

    The problem with talking and listening to everybody is that it confers status and legitimacy on those that may not deserve it. Showing a united front of disapproval among nations by refusing to talk sends a more powerful statement.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  10. Start with brunch. Light chit chat.

    Jack Klompus (b796b4)

  11. The better example is the excrement that was produced when Jimme went to PingPongYang and came back with the “Agreed Framework.”

    That’s what talkin’ gets ya.

    WLS (68fd1f)

  12. I just picture Ahmadinejad sitting next to Obama at the negotiating table and while Barry is bloviating to the audience, Mahmoud is doing the bunny ears and faces like Chevy Chase behind Jane Curtin.

    Jack Klompus (b796b4)

  13. I prefer a movie and a blowjob.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  14. “A leader talks to everybody. And listens to everybody.”

    nk – As a philosophy within an organization I don’t have a problem with this, but between nations it can get a little hairy.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  15. I’m not talking to you guys.

    nk (be56c0)

  16. Can we keep the basketball?

    Jack Klompus (b796b4)

  17. Unconditionally “talking to everybody and listening to everybody” is laudable for a corporate CEO but untenable in international politics, especially when dealing with actors of demonstrable malice whose notions of negotiating ethics are world’s apart from ours. Obama’s “I would” was naive swagger. In light of the fact he’s negotiated with no more formidable parties than asbestos litigants and collegial fellow senators, it suggests deranged ego.

    rrpjr (fb0748)

  18. There is that, rrpjr, but the bottom line is that this shows the vapidness of the Democrats’ false meme that the Bush administration isn’t employing diplomacy.

    It is a claim that is obviously false to anyone who has actually paid any attention at all to current events. But it appeals to the BDS afflicted ignorant that populate the Democratic party these days. For whom sophomoric insults about George Bush keep them from having to actually pay attention to reality.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  19. “That’s not the answer I remember giving. It saddens me that the previous answer is hurting my chances for electoral success. It is not an answer worthy of denunciation, but it is not an answer with which I will associate myself for the remainder of the campaign.”

    Daryl Herbert (4ecd4c)

  20. Yeah but Obama is so awesome he’ll have Mahmoud’s cellphone number on speed dial.

    Jack Klompus (b796b4)

  21. America has no worse enemies than Vladimir Putin or Who Run China Now and we are constantly talking to them.

    “Keep your friends close but your enemies even closer.”

    nk (be56c0)

  22. Note: the quote from my earlier post should be attributed to WLS, not myself. Whoops.

    Now…

    “The problem with talking and listening to everybody is that it confers status and legitimacy on those that may not deserve it. Showing a united front of disapproval among nations by refusing to talk sends a more powerful statement.”

    -daleyrocks

    A more powerful statement of what? Moral superiority? Inarticulate (or otherwise incompetent) leadership? Petulance?

    How can any agreement be reached between opposing parties when those same parties refuse to speak to one another? Are we going to telepathically reassure Hugo Chavez (and, more importantly, the people of Venezuela, by whom he was democratically elected) that we bear no ill will towards them, that we are not the merciless capitalist bogeymen they currently believe us to be? How can you count on temperamental diplomatic silence to convey anything other than a temperamental outlook on foreign affairs?

    Most importantly, how can it hurt you to sit down and talk with opponents, or even enemies? It doesn’t diminish your capabilities in any way, nor does it increase the capabilities of the opposition. It’s not like the world is going to start treating Hamas like the Red Cross just because they had the great honor of sitting down and talking to members of the US government.

    … And even if things turn out badly in the end, it’s still the right thing to do – if push comes to shove, at least you can tell your kids you tried to talk before you started to shoot.

    Leviticus (22eefa)

  23. Leviticus, for many third world rulers, having high level meetings with First World leaders are important status symbols.

    That you pretend not to realize this only shows the ridiculous length you’ll go to to defend this vapid Democratic meme.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  24. Leviticus — you ignore the reality of actual diplomacy. It does not involve face-to-face sitdowns with people like Ahmadinejad and Chavez — but that is what Obama was asked about.

    Its perfectly fine to have open channels of communication through third parties or lower level diplomatic contacts. We have that now with the Iranians and the Venezuelans. If we want Chavez to know something, there are ways we can communicate with him directly other than inviting him to lunch in the Map Room of the WH.

    The French and Egyptians have normal diplomatic relations with the Iranians, so if we want them to know something, we have no problem making our thoughts known.

    So, its not like the failure of Bush to meet with the heads of nations like Iran, NK, or Venezuela are hampering out ability communicate on a diplomatic level. A face-to-face sitdown doesn’t improve that communication, it only gives stature and credibility to the tyrants of the world who then attempt to turn it to their own propoganda benefit.

    WLS (68fd1f)

  25. “it only gives stature and credibility to the tyrants of the world “

    And faux foriegn policy talking points for Democrats.

    Sheesh, I don’t think we’ve had such a juvenile set of foriegn policy “pronouncements” from a Democrat since McClellan ran for President.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  26. “we are not the merciless capitalist bogeymen they currently believe us to be?”
    Are you refering to the regime or the people? If the latter I disagree with that generalization of the population’s view of the U.S. Venezuela has a substantial middle and educated class who don’t think very highly of El Presidente.

    “Most importantly, how can it hurt you to sit down and talk with opponents, or even enemies?”
    I think as mentioned before by another poster that there are no doubt talks taking place between envoys of adversarial countries all the time.

    I think a lot of it has to do with gauging rhetoric and making decisions about how rational the other side is going to be when they sit at the table.
    I think part of that judgment is considering what image it presents to have your head of state be seen across the globe standing side by side, flags behind them and anthems playing. I’m not sure I want to see the President with his hand over his heart listening to the Iranian anthem while a quirky apocalyptic twelver is standing next to him.

    Jack Klompus (b796b4)

  27. “[Actual diplomacy] does not involve face-to-face sitdowns with people like Ahmadinejad and Chavez”

    – WLS

    Says who? You? We’re talking (and disagreeing) over the ideal diplomatic paradigm; you don’t get to assert the current reality as the right one.

    From my perspective, “actual diplomacy” should involve face-to-face sitdowns with people like Ahmadinejad and Chavez; they are leaders of sovereign nations and deserve to be disagreed with in public, by American leaders.

    “The French and Egyptians have normal diplomatic relations with the Iranians, so if we want them to know something, we have no problem making our thoughts known.”

    – WLS

    What are we, a bunch of 7th grade girls passing notes to the boy across the room through our mutual friend? We’re the most powerful country on Earth; we don’t need to mince around like a bunch of eunuchs because Ahmadinejad might turn our diplomatic gesture into a propaganda video on Al-jazeera (which, for the record, most of the world views with a rather skeptical eye).

    Leviticus (22eefa)

  28. Yes, well, that’s what we need, more fantasyland foreign policy.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  29. Leviticus — what you get from wrongheaded sitdowns are pictures like those of Mad-Hatter Albright engaging in a champagne toast with “Dear Leader” and applauding madly as tens of thousands of North Koreans perform incredibly rehearsed dance numbers — which underscores the fact that millions of other North Koreans have starved due to the inability of the NK government to feed it own people while at the same time finding itself able to maintain a million man army on the border with South Korea.

    WLS (68fd1f)

  30. WLS #29,

    Are you under the impression that the only possible diplomatic sitdown is a boneheaded diplomatic sitdown?
    There’s a difference between engaging in serious talks and attending Kim Jong Il’s road o’ bones carnival antics…

    SPQR: What have you actually added to this thread? In the way of ideas, I mean… you’re added more than your fair share of regurgitated rhetoric.

    Leviticus (22eefa)

  31. Leviticus, the other reason (besides conferring legitimacy) that you avoid pointless “talks” with despots is because they have a long history of using such talks as a way of delaying action. Yassir Arafat and the PLO were masters of this game. They would yammer on about the need for “talks” and the gullible gave them credit for being legitimately interested in pursuing solutions rather than just finding the easy way of stalling and delaying. The same, I fear, would apply to any attempt to engage with Iran. Obama would say, “You need to discontinue your nuclear program.” Iran would say, “well, let’s discuss it and maybe negotiate a solution.” They could then easily play for time and drag this out as long as they want. If Obama got tough and threatened military intervention, Iran would just demand more “talks” and the cycle would repeat itself.

    JVW (78155f)

  32. The problem with talking and listening to everybody is that it confers status and legitimacy on those that may not deserve it.

    So exactly what kind of ‘status and legitimacy’ will it confer? How will the President of Iran be able to use it as leverage? To hear President Bush explain it, this argument basically boils down to a worry that a photograph with the two leaders together will be used as propaganda. I guess President Bush has never heard of Photoshop before.

    Showing a united front of disapproval among nations by refusing to talk sends a more powerful statement.

    What statement? What’s powerful about it? Do you really think Iran cares that the West disapproves of them? That’s supposed to get them to do what, exactly?

    Levi (76ef55)

  33. Leviticus – You are usually smarter than advocating pap like talking to everyone. What’s wrong?

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  34. Did Nixon go to China before the way was paved by Kissinger? No.

    It’s all about those pesky preconditions that Obama doesn’t want to concern himself about but now wants to obfuscate or the idea the talks should have the possibility of being productive if they are between national leaders. That is done through preparation and advance negotiation by others, not having Obama’s secretary calling up Chavez’s secretary and saying my guy wants to do lunch with your guy.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  35. Do you really think Iran cares that the West disapproves of them? That’s supposed to get them to do what, exactly?

    Levi – If they don’t, why do they want to negotiate in the first place. Moron.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  36. Aw man. It’s back.

    Jack Klompus (cf3660)

  37. basically boils down to a worry that a photograph with the two leaders together will be used as propaganda

    The Left would never do that. Never, I tell you. Oops, maybe they would.

    JD (75f5c3)

  38. Oh, hell yes, they would.

    Don Rumsfeld (75f5c3)

  39. Leviticus, really – were I you, I would not be complaining about regurgitated rhetoric. And wipe your chin.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  40. If they don’t, why do they want to negotiate in the first place. Moron.

    Why does anybody want to negotiate about anything?

    Levi (76ef55)

  41. Why does anybody want to negotiate about anything?

    Absolutely brilliant reply, Levi. I surrender. Moron.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  42. daley – did you negotiate those terms of surrender?

    Jack Klompus (cf3660)

  43. I think it is hilarious how often Levi’s own explicit ignorance becomes his argument.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  44. Absolutely brilliant reply, Levi. I surrender. Moron.

    Sure, because this:

    If they don’t, why do they want to negotiate in the first place. Moron.

    was such a brilliant reply to this:

    So exactly what kind of ’status and legitimacy’ will it confer? How will the President of Iran be able to use it as leverage? To hear President Bush explain it, this argument basically boils down to a worry that a photograph with the two leaders together will be used as propaganda. I guess President Bush has never heard of Photoshop before.

    What statement? What’s powerful about it? Do you really think Iran cares that the West disapproves of them? That’s supposed to get them to do what, exactly?

    Levi (76ef55)

  45. “How will the President of Iran be able to use it as leverage?”
    You should read Natan Sharansky’s The Case for Democracy.

    Jack Klompus (cf3660)

  46. You should read Natan Sharansky’s The Case for Democracy.

    No thanks?

    Levi (76ef55)

  47. Oh that’s right I forgot. You don’t need to read books. How silly of me to offer a suggestion of a book that addresses the issues that it appears that you sort of have a somewhat intelligent interest in. Let me guess, your second grade teacher last year already gave you an A on the paper you wrote on the book? The Dean of Bumblefuck Montana strikes again and awes the world with his towering intellect.

    Jack Klompus (cf3660)

  48. Oh that’s right I forgot. You don’t need to read books. How silly of me to offer a suggestion of a book that addresses the issues that it appears that you sort of have a somewhat intelligent interest in. Let me guess, your second grade teacher last year already gave you an A on the paper you wrote on the book? The Dean of Bumblefuck Montana strikes again and awes the world with his towering intellect.

    Go assign readings to someone that doesn’t think you’re one of the dumbest people he’s ever met.

    Levi (76ef55)

  49. I think Levi is looking at the dumb end of a broom for a career, NTTAWWT.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  50. Why do you even try to swat this fly?
    Perhaps the landlord will allow us to install a bug-zapper?

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  51. Scintillating comeback! Well we’ve fortunately never met. I don’t have the time to waste going to a podunk jerkwater berg in Montana to meet a sniveling little mental midget. And yes of course it’s futile to suggest reading to someone who declares no need to actually read anything to know its content given your uncanny ability to earn A’s on tests and papers about books you’ve never read. Well when you do actually ever finish an entire book, Dr. Seuss not counting, be sure to let all the adults in your life know that you’re a big boy now!

    Jack Klompus (cf3660)

  52. Scintillating comeback! Well we’ve fortunately never met. I don’t have the time to waste going to a podunk jerkwater berg in Montana to meet a sniveling little mental midget. And yes of course it’s futile to suggest reading to someone who declares no need to actually read anything to know its content given your uncanny ability to earn A’s on tests and papers about books you’ve never read. Well when you do actually ever finish an entire book, Dr. Seuss not counting, be sure to let all the adults in your life know that you’re a big boy now!

    Sure thing buddy.

    Levi (76ef55)

  53. The discussion about Obama and negotiating hasn’t yet mentioned the most important word in his AIPAC speech yet.

    Let me be clear. Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. The
    Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive, and that allows
    them to prosper – but any agreement with the Palestinian people must
    preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and
    defensible borders.

    What does he mean by contiguous ? The 2000 agreement that Arafat spurned included 95% of the land that the Palestinians occupy with Gaza connected to the West Bank by a corridor. The corridor crosses Israeli land. To give the Palestinian state contiguous land including Gaza is a major departure from the best offer they have ever had since 1948 and which they turned down. There is absolutely no incentive for Israel to go beyond that and a significant incentive to wall off the Palestinians for another generation.

    Obama’s speech opened new questions about his thinking and the influence of his advisors and Palestinian friends.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  54. How would you negotiate with Iran, Levi. Their stated goal is obtaining nukes and the destruction of Israel. Are a few nukes and only killing some Joooooooooooooos alright with you?

    Don Rumsfeld (75f5c3)

  55. Well, not so much new questions… I’m pretty sure those were being asked already…

    Scott Jacobs (fa5e57)

  56. He wants to give the Paleos a corridor across Israel?
    We did that in 1918 in Poland, and that turned out really well, didn’t it?

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  57. He has also now backtracked on his promise about Jerusalem. You’ve really got to watch this guy.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  58. It is another example of just how incompetent Obama is at this diplomacy thing, Mike.

    It is because Democrats – as Leviticus shows – fundamentally don’t understand foreign policy.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  59. The layers of bureaucracy and the protocol involved in diplomacy is staggering. People make it seem like the President on a whim can just pick up the phone and say “Yo! Mahmoud my man. What’s say we get together? No seriously!”
    The vetting process that the State Department goes through just to pick Foreign Service Officers to process visas in Burkina Faso is brutal. I hardly think that top-level, hardcore diplomacy and negotiations or even the discussion thereof is taken as lightly as people think it can be arranged and carried out.

    Jack Klompus (b796b4)

  60. The thing is we already do talk to Iran. Not directly, but through proxies. Iran is very clear that if it agreed to the EU-3 program, we’d have joined in very soon thereafter. Its not like a face to face would suddenly clear things up. “Ohhhh, I see, you want us to stop making nukes….Ahhh, man, I just misunderstood all of those press conferences and what those German guys were telling me.”

    Aaron (e6a6c4)


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