Friday, May 30, 2008

Did Bush's "appeasement" speech refer to Obama?

This blog received the following comment:
Randy said...

Geo W Bush commented on the appeasement naming no one particularly. But Senator Obama retorted as if he were the object of the speech comments. This was only days before Jimmy Carter meeting with Hamas, so it could well have been former President Carter that Bush was pointing to without saying so.

Here's my response:
Adam Holland said...


Thanks for your comment.

I've heard that argument made, but it has some problems. One problem: in the run-up to the speech, Bush aides were spinning the speech as an argument against Obama's proposed diplomacy with U.S. enemies. (I'm looking for the reports of this and will post them when I find them. If any readers of this blog know where those reports are, feel free to post them here.) Moreover, former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson published an editorial in the Washington Post the week before the speech which stated "By simultaneously embracing appeasement, protectionism and retreat, President Obama would manage to make Jimmy Carter look like Teddy Roosevelt." This piece also fantasizes an anti-Obama demonstration in Tel Aviv "(t)ens of thousands protest.. carrying signs reading 'Chamberlain Lives!'"(READ HERE)

After the speech, when objections were raised to the propriety of a sitting President campaigning oversees, especially in such negative terms, Bush aides began spinning in the opposite direction, saying that Obama WASN'T the target -- it was Jimmy Carter. The beauty part of that defense is that while it doesn't say that Obama isn't Neville Chamberlain, it implies that he is Jimmy Carter.

It really stretches credulity to claim that this isn't a deliberate attack on Obama. I just don't believe that Bush considers Carter that big an issue. Let's face facts: Carter is yesterday's news. Bush, and everyone else, is a lot more interested in the next President than that 70's guy.

May I say once and for all that argument by analogy, especially broadly drawn historical analogy (person A = person B) is so logically flawed as to be virtually useless. Let's analyze the underlying principles before declaring Obama to be Chamberlain and McCain to be Churchill. You must admit that that equation is frankly laughable.

And then there's this from the Huffington Post:

According to 29-year CIA veteran and former NSC official Bruce Riedel, Wednesday's announcement of joint peace negotiations between Israel and Syria revealed President Bush's diminished standing in Middle East affairs.

"Think of the irony," Riedel said. "George Bush goes to Jerusalem last week. He gives an impassioned speech about never dealing with nasty regimes [that sponsor terror]. He basically says 'don't make agreements that appease [them].' And less than a week later, the Israeli government announces it is engaged in peace negotiations with the Assad dictatorship in Syria. We're talking about a rather distasteful regime that likely had a hand in the murder of [former Lebanese Prime Minister] Rafik Hariri. I guess [Israeli Prime Minister] Ehud Olmert didn't think the speech was meant for him."

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