Bush league political pandering

George Bush is such a stickler for the niceties of the presidency that he instituted a White House dress code and will not enter the Oval Office without a suit jacket. Thus, it’s mildly shocking that he would violate an unwritten nicety of the capital — partisanship stops at the water’s edge — and in rather ugly fashion.

Speaking to the Israeli parliament, Bush said:

Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Although the White House denies it, the dig was clearly aimed at Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama and Obama certainly took it that way. White House press secretary Dana Perino pointed out that Bush didn’t single out Obama by name but a White House as sensitively attuned to political nuance as this one knew that Obama’s professed willingness to negotiate with unsavory regimes versus Hillary Clinton’s more restrained approach had been an issue in the campaign.

The White House points out that Bush has said similar things before but not overseas, not on a state visit and not before the leadership of a foreign country with a powerful political base back in the United States where the invocation of Nazis has powerful emotional resonance.

Besides, the speech was slightly off point on the question of negotiating with “terrorists and radicals.” Under Bush, the U.S. administration has negotiated with Libya, successfully, is negotiating with North Korea (so far unsuccessfully), tried to negotiate with Saddam Hussein, and the administration has sat down with envoys from Iran and Syria. If the president is serious about a Mideast peace agreement we’ll be in serious negotiations with Hamas before he leaves office.

And that mocking reference to “an American senator.” It was William Borah of Idaho. He was a Republican.


  1. WWWexler

    Well, this has been sliced, diced, and thrashed to death in the last news cycle. Even Chris “da wiener” Matthews got a chance to look good, and he didn’t have to use his signature nervous laugh… “aaharrraugh, aaharrraugh, aaharrraugh…”

    One distinction needs to be drawn and I don’t see anybody doing it. I understand WHY nobody wants to clarify this. It’s not politically expedient.

    However, it needs to be pointed out that Hamas is the legally elected government of the Palestinians who have been pushed onto the West Bank. The fact is that Israel has not recognized Hamas and Hamas has not recognized Israel. What I would like to see clarified is under what circumstances does this legally elected government get a seat at the table? Does anyone think that the solution to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict will happen without negotiating with Hamas? If you do, then you live in a neocon fantasy world where might makes right and you are either with the Jews or you’re against them.

    Making this point is way beyond the attention span of the American voter, particularly the flag-waving ignoramus who has been brainwashed and fear-mongered to a high state of paranoia by the Bush Administration lie factory. That’s why you won’t hear Obama talk about it… it’s not politically feasible to try to explain that position to the electorate. But dammit, it needs to be addressed or we’re in for another 60 years of terrorism and war in the region and beyond.


  2. Elmo

    I’m not sure I see the connection between his concern with the appearance of propriety (fairly common in alcoholics and their codependents) and his utter disregard for anything of which he disapproves. There’s an elephant standing in the Oval Office and it isn’t the symbol of the Repugnicant party.

  3. Sandra Price

    How can we possibly try to work on peace between these to warring nations during a presidential campaign? On many internet sites and forums, the Jews are being blamed for 9/11. Nobody dares to put the blame where it lies so blaming Israel is just an extension of the old antiSemitism what was started by Evangelicals and organizations like the John Birch Society after WW2.

    Bringing this mess into the campaign is a deadly mess. I am shocked at how many Conservative sites are against Israel and so few voices ever show up to call them on their bigotry. I can only hope that the “Rapture” meaning the destruction of the Jews unless they convert to Jesus, will not be used in our election. But the GOP will not stop until they rule the Christian Empire. My step- granddaughter flew to Israel last year without telling her father in a protest against what the GOP is trying to do. Yes, my son-on-law is Jewish but is also a firm Republican.

    Bush wants all nations in a war against other nations and the American people must recognize that this is a movement directly from the Republican National Committee and the AEI.

    You post was a good one and I say “Bravo” and “Boo-ha” (this is an expression I picked up from Jim Cramer – CNBC)

  4. Janet

    Nobody says it better than Joe! This was posted this morning on Huffington Post. I hope Joe is Secretary of State in the Obama administration.

    Joe Biden Slams Bush For Obama Appeasement Comments

    From NBC’s Domenico Montanaro

    Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee absolutely tore into President George W. Bush for his comments from Israel, which appeared to take a swipe at Obama.

    Bush said this morning, “Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement.”

    An exasperated Biden skewered Bush over that in a conference call with reporters, calling the comments “pure politics,” “blatant,” “beneath the presidency,” “truly disgraceful,” “outrageous,” “disturbing,” “ridiculous hypocrisy” and “long-distance Swiftboating.” He even said Bush “oughta get a life.”

    “For this president to go on the attack against Barack Obama,” Biden said. “It cannot go unanswered.” [Possible veep audition?]

  5. pollchecker

    Janet — I have edited your post because it was a repost of copyrighted material in its entirety which is against the rules of this site.

    I have included a link to the complete article you referenced in your blog, so that others may read it in its entirety and shortened the quote to the appropriate length.

    Please refer to the rules regarding copyright material and Formatting options if you have questions about how to post a link in the correct format.


  6. WWWexler

    I’m glad that Biden is getting some ink for these comments.

    It’s a shame that it has to be on Huff, which has morphed into the National Enquirer/Entertainment Tonight version of political commentary.


  7. TallMIke2

    Why is Bush still president? He has repeatedly lied to Congress and the American people. He has caused the death of many American soldiers and countless Iraqis. He has a history of cocaine use and alcohol addiction. He was AWOL from his unit during the Vietnam era. He has violated the Constitution for which he is sworn to uphold. All of Congress knows this and yet they do nothing and the American public lets it all just slide. The rest of the “free world” laughs at us in derision. It is unlikely that we will ever regain our former position and prestige in the world. And yet, the shrub is still president. Go figure.

  8. pollchecker

    He is President because there are not enough votes in Congress to Constitutionally remove him from office. Hell, the steal and spend Republicans won’t even let its party members vote for anything the Democrats support because it is not politically expedient.

  9. old_curmudgeon

    Ahem. I would hope that in the future if you deem it necessary to “edit” one of my postings that you show common courtesy and allow me the decision to repost in accordance with the rules or pull the posting.

  10. pollchecker

    If you don’t repost the entire copyright article without permission according to the rules, I won’t have to edit anything. Also a link to referenced article is nice to have but I’m not a stickler.

    However, if you reprint a copyright article in its entirety without the author’s permission and I do edit it, you can always go back and use the EDIT button at the top to change it to whatever you like.

    I don’t like editing. But since Doug has asked me to moderate the blogs, I do have the right to edit anything that is in blatant violation of the rule.

    By NOW, I believe the entire issue of reposting copyright stuff should be securely addressed unless Doug would like to add something.

  11. Janet


    The Huffington Post posted it from MSNBC.com. If you click on the link from Huff, it takes you to MSNBC.com.

    The Huffington Post and Politico.com are still the best places to get first/early politial read and analysis, and they link to articles from Newsweek, NYT and others. Nothing like the Enquirer. It has just morphed from a political blog into a general interest but intelligent online newspaper. The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, et al all have entertainment, living and business sections.

  12. WWWexler

    I think the world of Arianna, and I hate to see her website suck like it does.

    And it does. They are chronically sloppy, sensationalist, and biased. They frequently have some good content, but they have stooped ambulance-chaser mode more than once. I don’t know what happened to them, but they are not the thoughtful political digest they used to be.

    If you want that, I suggest you try MoJo, Counterpunch, and of course, CHB.


  13. mitchigann

    While everyone is busy calling Mr. Bush on the style and circumstances of his "appeasement" remarks, and rightly so, nobody seems to be paying attention to the content. What "content" you say? OK, there isn’t much, but it is significant. Bush is defining "appeasement" as merely talking to people and trying to get them to see things your way. That is not appeasement.

    Appeasement is when you grant unwise concessions to a bully to maintain the peace. If it works, you buy a little time to get ready for the bully’s next move. And of course there will be a next move. If it doesn’t work, the bully takes your concessions and smashes you in the face anyway. That’s the worst case scenario.

    The American senator quoted by the President was not in a position to grant any concessions to Hitler, so while the senator may have been deluded, he was not by definition an appeaser. The British did appease — or try to appease — Hitler, but they were militarily weak and had little choice but to play for time.

    The point is, mere jawboning with an opponent is not appeasement. You have to offer something to the other side to avoid getting hammered by them. Then that’s appeasement.

    Mitch Gann

  14. Direct Democracy

    Pursue the Bush administration beyond January 20 until they are brought to justice.

    Direct Democracy

  15. ElleninBigD

    Maybe Bush and the Israeli parliament don’t know that Bush’s grandfather was much more close to Hitler than Obama is to Iran. All Obama has ever done is talk about talking. Bush’s grandfather actually helped finance Hitler and then he and a bunch of his cronies wanted to overthrow the US government in 1933 or thereabouts. This is crazy. Of course, this country has been crazy for the last eight years. Reality and truth mean nothing anymore.

    I did like it when Chris Matthews (of all people) took down a right-wing radio jock, Kevin James, for his ignorance on what appeasement actually is.