Editorial from the NY Times -
The President Goes Negative
Published: May 17, 2008
President Bush’s penchant for slash-and-burn politics, learned at the feet of Karl Rove and the late Lee Atwater, is unseemly when practiced at home. It is shameful for the president and damaging for the country when put on display abroad.
So it was especially distressing to hear Mr. Bush’s barely veiled attack against Senator Barack Obama in front of Israel’s Parliament. In a speech honoring Israel’s 60th anniversary, Mr. Bush likened those who call for talks with “terrorists and radicals” to those who appeased the Nazis.
“We have an obligation to call this what it is,” he declared, “the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.” There are few words more fraught than “appeasement” and no place where they carry more emotional weight than in Israel.
When Mr. Obama and other Democrats objected, the White House press secretary, Dana Perino, insisted the president’s remarks had nothing to do with Mr. Obama and slyly suggested that the Democratic senator was being narcissistic. Mr. Bush’s counselor, Ed Gillespie, then expressed surprise that no one had interpreted the president’s words as a rebuke to former President Jimmy Carter — which he said, sort of, that it wasn’t.
No one bought that — including, we suspect, Mr. Gillespie and Ms. Perino. Senator John McCain certainly had no trouble decoding the remark. He spent much of his week running away from Mr. Bush but endorsed this language enthusiastically. He also said that it was Mr. Obama’s responsibility to explain why he was willing to talk with Iran.
Senator Obama has called for talking with Iran and Syria, as have this editorial page and scores of foreign-policy experts from both political parties. None have suggested surrendering to these countries’ demands, which is, after all, what appeasement is.
Diplomacy is simply good sense. There is no guarantee that it will change anyone’s mind. But Mr. Bush’s refusal to talk has made it far easier for North Korea to churn out plutonium, Iran to meddle in Iraq and indulge its nuclear appetites and Syria and Iran to back Hamas and Hezbollah. The list goes on.
Those failed policies are one reason we yearn for the coming change of administration and for the next president to reject Mr. Bush’s bullheadedness.
We also yearn for a more civilized and respectful political dialogue. That is essential for a healthy democracy. It is also essential for regaining the world’s respect.