The Corner

Obama’s Response: So 1990s

Barack Obama, the man Newsweek magazine said was in possession of “almost preternatural equanimity,” seems to be losing his bearings (to quote an Obama phrase from a few weeks ago). I say that based on this story in which Obama called President Bush’s comments yesterday in Israel on appeasement “exactly the kind of appalling attack that’s divided our country and alienates us from the rest of the world.” This comes after yesterday’s accusation by Obama that the president had leveled a “false political attack” against him. (For good measure Hillary Clinton called the president’s comments “offensive and outrageous.” This from the husband and wife team that routinely destroyed people whom they viewed as a threat to their political power.)

If Obama believes the president’s appeasement formulation was wrong, fine; let him make a substantive argument for why that’s the case. And if he wants to present a careful argument for why as president he would meet without preconditions with the leader of not only Iran but also with the leaders of Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea, all in his first year, that’s fine, too. In fact, it would be a welcome addition to the presidential debate. But for Obama to lash out in the manner he has is silly and unbecoming.

What is driving this response? Probably the belief by Obama that he’s vulnerable to being portrayed as weak on national security matters and he wants to prove that he can’t be “swift-boated.” But Obama’s response will achieve neither aim and, in fact, it makes Obama look thin-skinned, a bit rattled, and prickly. Indeed, Obama’s response seems so 1990s. His words and the words of the campaign could have come straight from the lips of Paul Begala or other former Clinton attack dogs.

Obama and the Democrat’s DefCon 1 response to the president’s speech to the Knesset is a perfect illustration of the kind of tiresome “old politics” we really don’t need. The early media reports I heard of Bush’s speech didn’t even mention the appeasement line; it was only after Obama’s campaign and other Democrats exploded in (manufactured) fury that it became a political issue at all. Or, perhaps more accurately, a “distraction.” Which is exactly what I thought Obama was trying to move us away from.

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