I don’t think anyone is ruling out a president meeting with certain leaders at certain times, and under certain conditions. That would be absurd. But Obama said the opposite, which is equally absurd, i.e., that he would meet with any leader of any regime without preconditions. He has had to modify his dumb statement (making silly distinctions between preconditions and preparations), although he still refuses to acknowledge that what he originally said was nuts. To say, Andrew, that it is not always wrong to meet with bad leaders is quite true, but it was not what Obama said. And that was the point of VDH’s post.
As an aside, Andrew, you’ve changed two variables in Obama’s examples to make a general point that I don’t believe anyone disputes. Your first example was that Vice President Nixon had met with Castro, having found no occasion when a president of either party had met with Castro. Your second example is to change countries, having found no president who has met with the leaders of Iran, North Korea, or Cuba, three of the four countries Obama mentioned in his original statement (Venezuela’s situation is different in that communism is recent to Venezuela).
This issue is very important because Obama is proposing a major break with the manner in which our nation has conducted foreign policy under both parties and through many decades. And he’s not proposing it because he’s smart and his position is well-considered, but for the opposite reasons.