In what should be telling enough, Barack Obama automatically assumed the president was talking about him. Of course, given that he wants to meet with the leading terror sponsor Iran and his adviser until recently Robert Malley holds regular meetings with Hamas, perhaps Obama hath reason to protest so much. ~Philip Klein
Well, since Mr. Bush and his supporters routinely deploy the charge of “appeasement” against anyone who proposes diplomatically engaging with “rogue” states, and he deployed the charge of appeasement on the heels of attempts to link Obama to a negotiate-with-Hamas view (a view he has repeatedly repudiated) in the context of a presidential election in which Obama’s views on Israel have been repeatedly called into question, I think it’s fair to assume that Mr. Bush was talking about Obama. At the very least, Obama was one of those to whom he was referring, and this seems all the more obvious since he made the charge of “appeasement” in Israel. After all, who has been the subject of controversy over negotiating with enemies of Israel? It’s quite clear that this was supposed to be a shot at Obama. Contra Sullivan, however, I don’t see how this helps Obama. It’s bad enough that he has to fight off the scurrilous charge that he is somehow soft on Hamas, when he takes an identical position towards Hamas as his Republican opponent, but now he has had the hoary charge of appeasement thrown at him; conflation with Bush is not good for McCain, but conflation with Chamberlain, if people believe it, is potentially very harmful. It doesn’t matter that the charge of appeasement is bogus and is being made by one of the great foreign policy failures of the last 60 years. A nation conditioned on Churchillolatry and WWII mythology is susceptible to these lazy arguments, even though the people who use these arguments have overused the appeasement card so badly that it does not have anywhere near the sting that it used to have.
You have to admire that “adviser until recently” circumlocution, which very carefully avoids mentioning that Malley is no longer an informal advisor to the campaign because he was engaged in independent talks with Hamas in his role as part of an entirely different group. Malley’s status as a former informal advisor is a direct result of his dealings with Hamas, which Obama rejected and has ruled out as unacceptable.
P.S. Ambinder notes two things from the Bush-Obama exchange:
(1) Bush knew was what he saying — of course the first paragraph was aimed at Obama
(2) The Obama campaign is very, very touchy about anything related to Israel
On the second point, I can’t say I’m surprised. After months of having a number of your advisors tarred as anti-Semites and/or foes of Israel, having positions the candidate doesn’t hold attributed to him, having his “pro-Israel” bona fides questioned on the basis of no significant evidence, and seeing scummy misrepresentations by leading Republicans of the candidate’s forthrightly “pro-Israel” statements that completely distort and twist the meaning of those statements into the opposite of what he said, I suppose any campaign might be a tad touchy about the subject, especially when they know as well as anyone that an “anti-Israel” label will be very politically damaging.