The Campaign Spot

Remember That Promise About Meeting With Five Leaders in the First Year?

President Obama has been in office for a bit more than five months; tough to believe, but his first year is almost half over.

With the news that the Iranian diplomatic corps are no longer invited to U.S. embassies’ Fourth of July parties, I was reminded of this exchange from the YouTube debate:

QUESTION: In 1982, Anwar Sadat traveled to Israel, a trip that resulted in a peace agreement that has lasted ever since.

In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?

COOPER: I should also point out that Stephen is in the crowd tonight.

Senator Obama?

OBAMA: I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them — which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration — is ridiculous.

Anyone want to bet that Obama will meet with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea this year? (I realize some would argue that Obama “met” with Chavez during their brief chat at the Summit of the Americas, but from the context of the question and the “meet separately,” it’s clear the questioner was envisioning a one-on-one summit meeting with those leaders.) Time will tell, but with about seven months to go, it doesn’t seem likely. Certainly, a state visit by, or to, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong Il seems particularly unthinkable at the moment.

I’m glad Obama is unlikely to keep this promise; I thought this was one of the most foolish stances of his campaign. But I wonder how fans of this answer feel now that this statement, too, appears well on the way to reaching its expiration date.

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