Apparently everyone now thinks that Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee, as even President Bush is making remarks about the Illinois Senator’s leadership qualities. In a speech on the floor of Israel’s Knesset, Bush criticized those who want to deal with terrorists and other unsavories through this crazy idea called diplomacy. Bush said, “Some seem to believe that 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,” and then compared this diplomatic track with Sen. William Borah’s 1939 comment, “Lord if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters the remark was not a comment on Obama, but anonymous administrative aides told the Daily News the comment was aimed at the Illinois senator.
This comment opens up the whole, “Barack Hussein Obama” can of worms again, as News columnist Michael Goodwin accuses the Senator of “want[ing] it both ways” with his middle name: he uses it to show he “understands” issues in the Middle East, but that he’s persecuted by it here in the States because Joe Six-Pack in certain battleground states thinks it means he’s a Muslim who’s looking to destroy America. The Post‘s Charles Hurt plays the “Why ever would Obama think this comment was about him?” card, noting how important the discussion of terrorism is in an election year. Then we get the inevitable Jimmy Carter slam at the end.
One perhaps unintended consequence of the remark is that it shored up the Democratic Party. As the old sentiment goes, “I can talk insult my family, but you sure as hell can’t.” Hillary Clinton called the remarks “offensive and outrageous,” while Sen. Chuck Schumer noted how inappropriate it was to “play politics on the floor of the Knesset on Israel’s 60th anniversary.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 16, 2008