Obama responds to Bush’s statements on terrorist negotiations

Apparently the Obama campaign took some of Bush’s statements today personally and issued a response. I’ll let the story and video below explain it all for you.

A video report from the Associated Press:

Here’s the report from Political Radar:

ABC News’ Ed O’Keefe Reports: The Obama campaign is taking issue with a comment President Bush made while speaking to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel’s statehood.

“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,” the President said to the country’s legislative body, “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.”

In a statement, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., shot across the bow: “It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 6Oth anniversary of Israel’s independence to launch a false political attack. It is time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran and failed to secure America or our ally Israel. Instead of tough talk and no action, we need to do what Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan did and use all elements of American power — including tough, principled, and direct diplomacy – to pressure countries like Iran and Syria. George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the President’s extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel.”

ABC News’ White House troops point out that the President has made similar statements in the past and Bush did not specifically cite Obama by name, though he did reference Sen. William Borah’s immortal reaction upon hearing that Hitler had invaded Poland and begun World War II, something he has not highlighted in the past.

Whether or not Bush was directly referencing Obama isn’t the point, however, what strikes me is that Obama’s campaign actually felt the need to dignify the statements. One would think they would brush it aside considering Bush has such low approval numbers and Democrats claim nobody pays attention to him, right? Either way, Obama did indeed say he would meet with our enemies without preconditions, and here’s the video:

No hesitation, he says “I would” about meeting without preconditions. I think that’s going to be haunting him for a bit on this issue, especially when it comes between him and McCain. He needs to counter this notion that he’s in favor of somehow negotiating with terrorists. No doubt the McCain campaign will pick up on this issue since it’s Obama’s own words.

That and that alone is the reason his campaign felt the need to respond and try to dispel criticism. He’s been trying to rewrite his answer to that debate question as of recent.

  • Babs

    Nate, Pres. Bush’s press secretary issued a strong statement concerning this as well:

    “I understand when you are running for office sometimes you think the world revolves around you. That is not always true and it is not true in this case. The president is president regardless of an election cycle and he is going to be president of the United States through January 20, 2009,” Perino said.

    “We are not going to change policy based on the ‘08 election. We are not going to stop talking about the ideals of the United States because there is an ‘08 election. They can fight it out over there but this is not new policy.”

    Some of the discussion boards are touting Obama as paranoid over this one, that Bush was not singling him out. Some are saying Bush was talking about Obama, and was right to say it. I think you’re right, this may be a talking issue with McCain. Sounds like a legit one to me, since as you say, Obama did say it.

  • Stalin

    Whether it was about Obama or not, what Bush said was true. I guess Obama is not comfortable in his own skin.

  • Whobody

    Even if Obama hadn’t taken it personal and responded so quickly, someone would have connected him with Bush’s statements at some point. He would have then been pressed to respond. In that case, would you have said it made him seem less offended by the comments and more comfortable in his position? Or would people then have said it made him seem weak and less confident in his foreign policy stance for not speaking up sooner?

  • Melvin


    You are 100% correct. I watched it live and I instantly thought it was against Obama.

    The situation was setup to make it seem as if Obama was weak no matter how he reacted,\

    By responding fast Bush could come back and say “It wasn’t about you. Why? Do you feel guilty?”

    If he hadn’t responded The rest of the world would say “He knows it was true that’s why he didn’t respond faster”

    A cheap setup at it’s worse.

  • Michael

    Thanks to Nate, we can actually go back to the previous debates and look at Obama’s position, especially when Clinton attacked him for this initial statement. Obama’s point was that we should not unilaterally refuse to talk to leaders of countries. He agreed there needs to be conditions, and he is not giving out “free” tickets to talk to anyone under any condition. But in order to have a working diplomacy, you need to be willing to talk with country’s leaders.

    What we find in politics is that attack-dogs simplify candidates’ arguments, then turn them into dual-edged weapons that can hurt the candidates as well as help them. This is simply one of these cases.

    Obama’s campaign responded because he had to– the media was already speculating about the interpretation of Bush’s words and its allusion to Obama before he responded. Due to Democratic concerns of Swift Boating, the rationale since the Bush/Kerry election has been to quickly and decisively attack/repudiate false depictions. Obama’s reaction here is in sync with that line of reasoning (employed by not only him, but Clinton as well).

  • Michel

    Why is everydoby assuming that Obama responded as if the speech was about him? he ust complained about Bush’ foreign policies to adress his views. He was quick and passionate, so what? I don’t he’s being paranoid, he’s just capaigning with his own points of view.

    If Perino replied in that way, it’s obvious that they were doing damage control. And it didn’t talk about issues, but about Obama feeling it was about him. Well, that’s not a decent answer, really.

    So, Stalin and Babs, I profoundly disagree with once again. And no, I don’t think you were talking to me… I just feel the urge to speak out when I disagree 😉 (I hope you see my point)

  • Josh

    Who is Bush to chastise anyone on foreign policy. The failure of the West to recognize the voice of Arab peoples is one of the biggest reasons Hamaas and groups of their type exist to begin with. To believe that you can negotiate peace without bringing groups like Hamaas to the discussion table is quintessence of stupidity. It is the reason that we have so obviously failed in our relations with Arab peoples, and gives extremists a nationalistic cause with which to procure the support of muslim youth. The policies of the Bush administration have only served to furthur the cause of groups like Hamaas and Al-qaeida. No one can reasonably argue, for instance, that Bush’s policies regarding Iraq have hurt Al-Qaeida. To the contrary, the Iraq war has helped them by giving them a much better base of operations than they had in Afghanistan, and galvanizing support for them in a nation where they basically didn’t exist prior to the Iraq war. This is one of the prime differences between Obama and McCain. McCain shares the same ideals as Bush when it comes to foreign relations, and cannot see where these policy ideals are fatally flawed. I’d argue that this situation obviates the fact that Obama has a much clearer understanding of the effects of foreign policy decisions than either McCain or Bush, and clearly a better understanding of it than many posters here.

  • Erwin

    I saw the story first on CNN and within it CNN claims White House aides acknowledged it was aimed at, well just read below i’ll copy it:

    The president did not name Sen. Barack Obama or any other Democrat, but White House aides privately acknowledged to CNN that the remarks were aimed at the presidential candidate and others in his party.


  • IndiMinded

    I have to agree wholeheartedly with you Josh. To me, the most disturbing thing I have heard from McCain is his repeated assertation that he would be Hammas’ “worst nightmare”. We’ve heard it from him again and again – and it scares the hell out of me, because what could he mean by that?

    I don’t claim to have a particularly deep understanding of foreign policy, but when a presidential candidate repeatedly declares himself the “worst nightmare” of a foreign government, I can only assume that military action against that country may follow if he’s elected. And if he were to actually try and drive Hammas from power, well that would leave an Iraq-esque power vacuum, right? We don’t need to elect another nation builder. Oh please let’s not!!!!

    I just don’t like that he’s rattling that saber on his way into office. As if we don’t have enough problems in the middle east.

    I’ve always thought it unfair to call McCain a warmonger, but is it really? I’ll take the guy who is at least willing to talk with the leadership of a country before he makes up his mind to be their worst nightmare. Yes, yes please.

  • Grey

    In truth, I have no idea whether or not Bush’s statement was a political attack on Obama. I wouldn’t put it past him, but I doubt that he thinks anything out that thoroughly, nor is he the most subtle man.

    In either case, it’s irrelevant, because even if this statement wasn’t intended as an attack, it became one. The second that people started tying the statement to Obama (like McCain did), he had to address it.

    Besides, the way the media blows every little thing he does out of proportion, he’d probably have to address the nation if he tripped on a rock.

  • Michel

    Well, McCain has already shown its support for Bush’s speech, and I must say that I wouldn’t be doing that anymore if I were him.

    This is why:


    I have a question (and this one is not rethorical): Why is McCain losing support so suddenly? I have no idea.

  • Dreadsen

    I believe Bush’s statement probably has more weight towards President Carter then Obama. Jimmy Carter JUST came from over there.


    You are right. I have tried to use the parallel of that statement to Bush Cowboy foreign policy. Although they are different I believe this is what some may call McCain running for Bush’s 3rd term.

  • Babs

    Dreadsen, I agree, I think if Bush was referring to anyone in particular it was Carter. I think that affront to the administration is still a very sore spot to Bush and Rice. And they were proven right in that instance, were they not? The last concensus I heard was that the trip was a failure.

  • Stalin

    Who are the Democrats to get up in arms about making statements overseas. They have been doing it for years! What Bush said was absolutely correct, the fact that Democrats aren’t comfortable with it solidifies my position that they are the party of appeasement.

  • IndiMinded

    Yeah, I think Bush talks a tough line, but even he knows that the truth is more of a mixed bag than he makes it sound. This IS coming from the same guy who is currently negotiating with Kim Jong Ill, after publicly declaring that North Korea is Evil, right? That’s Evil with a capitol E?

    I mean honestly I feel that was a good decision on his part, but it was a decision that hypocrite made before giving this speech when he states that sort of thing is always a bad idea.

    Given that he was condemning his own current actions up on that stage, could he have been addressing himself? Obama really shouldn’t have taken it so personally.

  • Babs

    Looks like Obama used it for a speech platform today:


    And so much for our theory, Dreadsen:

    “We did not anticipate that it would be taken that way, …Gillespie said. He (Gillespie) said there was some anticipation that it would be seen as a slam against former President Jimmy Carter, who recently met with leaders of Hamas, but that it was not intended as a rebuke to him, either.”

    Much ado about nothing. If there’s one thing I do believe about Bush it’s that if he was talking about Obama he would probably have said so. He hasn’t had any problem lately popping off about him or Clinton or McCain for that matter.

  • Stalin


    I don’t think that Bush is being a hypocrite here. The US is engaged in 6 party talks with North Korea, not the unilateral talks that Obama has encouraged with terrorist states.

  • IndiMinded

    That will be a good point in the larger debate between McCain and Obama, however I don’t believe Bush made any such distinction in his recent speech. It certainly sounds to me like he’s entirely condemning any notion of talking to terrorists or radicals as futile. If his larger point was that negotiating with terrorists and radicals should be done carefully and not unilaterally, he certainly did not clarify that point very well.

    To my pair of untrained ears it certainly sounds as if he’s condemning himself up there.

  • Stalin


    Bush has always said that he would only engage in talks with North Korea if they were multilateral so there is nothing new here. He does not want to give terrorists or radicals a platform on which to spread their message of hate.

  • Babs

    IndiMinded, I think the qualifier in this debate is “without preconditions”, which is what Obama commited himself to and what Carter did (as I understand it). I don’t Bush has ever talked to his mother without preconditions. 🙂

  • IndiMinded

    This is aggravating, because I actually approve of Bush’s multilateral talks with north korea, far more than I ever approved of him declaring that the whole country was Evil, but my point is this: there appears to be someone within the Bush administration who does NOT approve of his multilateral talks with North Korea, and his name is George W. Bush.

    He harshly condemns talks of that nature, you see. Let’s look to what he has to say on the subject: “Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along.”

    He goes on to say “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.”

    By his own words, our president has condemned our negotiations with North Korea, and declared that it is certain to meet with failure. That is my point. It has nothing to do with Barack Obama or Jimmy Carter.

    My first post, the one that started this conversation, simply declared that the matter was far more complex than GW made it sound – and he damn well knows it. I think he just likes making things sound neatly black and white, so no one has to recognize the gray.

  • Josh

    Stalin, the fact that we haven’t allowed groups like Hammas and Arab peoples in general a voice in matters that directly concern them (i.e. Israel) is all the platform that they need to continue spreading their message. Something does not come from nothing, and it follows that these groups came from somewhere. They didn’t exist, and then they did, and the only constant in the equation was the Western powers showed a general disregard for their interests. What does this tell you about the birth of Islamic terrorist groups? It should be obvious to you, by now, that dialogue with these people is the only way to stop the spread of terrorism.

  • Michel

    Josh, Indiminded, great last two posts. Definitely want to see what Babs and Stalin are going to come up with to counter that.

    As for this two phrases:

    “I don’t think that Bush is being a hypocrite here.” – Stalin

    “If there’s one thing I do believe about Bush it’s that if he was talking about Obama he would probably have said so. He hasn’t had any problem lately popping off about him or Clinton or McCain for that matter.” – Babs

    and are two very subjective phrases. Those are only your opinions. Obama may have another opinion on the matter, and may be working to prevent damage against his campaign. And if it wasn’t an attack on him, it WAS and attack on his policies, buy a president that has proved more than once he lacks the moral authority to discuss overseas policies. He’s the most unpopular American president around the world in the whole History. And he keeps explaining that it’s because those other countries are “jealous of our freedom and our way of life”.

    So, he wasn’t tactful, and we don’t have any reason to believe he didn’t intend it at the Obama policies. Just in case, Obama attacked those opinions because he was defending whee he stands politically. Why the backlash then?

    I still would like to see what you answer to Josh and Indiminded.

  • Stalin


    You are splitting hairs here. The bottom line is that Bush does not want to engage in one on one talks with a terrorist state. If you think that 6 party talks with North Korea contradicts that, then that’s your opinion.


    Please tell me that you are not saying that the West has created Islamic Extremism because we have ignored them??? We haven’t had too many talks with Madagascar, but I don’t see them flying planes into our buildings…


    I think you have found your niche. Cheerleading for Indy and Josh. I actually prefer that than having to answer your ramblings.

  • Babs

    From Fox News today:

    “He (Obama) stressed Friday in South Dakota that he would never enter into direct talks with terrorist groups like Hamas.”

    Response from McCain:

    “I say again, Barack Obama wants to sit down with their sponsors. If he doesn’t want to sit down with Hamas then he shouldn’t want to sit down with their sponsor,” McCain said.”

    “Obama also accused McCain of “hypocrisy,” after former State Department official James Rubin wrote in a Washington Post column that McCain said two years ago of Hamas: “They’re the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them.”

    Uh, how do you interpret “sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them” as “I would meet with them without preconditions”. If I recall, Hillary’s way of “dealing with them” was to “obliterate” them. No hypocracy here.

    And lastly:

    “McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds fired back that Obama’s retort was a “hysterical diatribe in response to a speech in which his name wasn’t even mentioned.”

    It certainly was. I say again, much ado about nothing. Anybody know what the rest of Bush’s speech was about? It didn’t exactly make headlines, did it? Maybe he should send Obama a thank you note for getting him back on the front page. *L*

  • Whobody

    Obama and McCain should be sounding off on the actions and words of the current president anytime they feel like it. They talk about what he did the past 8 years. They should sure as hell be talking about what he said yesterday, today, and tomorrow — whether their name is mentioned or not.

  • IndiMinded

    Ok, Stalin, I certainly don’t mean to be splitting hairs – but could you explain to me how that inflammatory Hitler comment fits into the larger picture?

    So Bush believes in his heart that multilateral hold potential, while unilateral are ineffective, I got that. But to me, that Hitler comment sure sounds as if it is meant to exemplify that terrorist states simply can never be reasoned with, and that those who believe otherwise are foolish. I mean, that’s his point, isn’t it?

  • Dreadsen

    Hey Babs!

    Here’s a video of the McCain Hypocrisy.
    I can understand changing you mind on something but now he may be looking more and more like a flip flopper.
    What do you think?


  • Stalin


    I don’t think it has so much to do with reasoning with terrorist states as it has to do with giving them a platform. By flying into Tehran after Ahaslkdfja;slkdjad says that he’s going to wipe Israel off the planet just gives him validation because he’s pissed off the big kid on the block and he’ll keep doing it. It’s like the annoying kid in school who kept giving people wet willies just to get a reaction. Other terrorist will follow the “wet willie” model and the cycle just repeats and nothing happens.

    PS: I am officially trademarking the “wet willie” model.

  • Michel

    That’s over-simplification, which is in fact naive, as Obama said. Much of this supporters aren’t looking for a platfor to disseminate a message of hate. Instead, they’re looking what almost every leader is lloking for. Power. And they increase their message of hate across their base of supporters because hate against America will result in frustration and more people to their cause. But their base of supporters isn’t looking for power. They aren’t politicians. Many of them are looking for stability on their lifes, for survival in many cases (many of the Pakistani live on extremely poor conditions), and they find fault at the U.S. The U.S. constantly aids Israel, who they see as an ussurper of their ladn, and one who constantly violates their right. Is a war enemy for them. And we also intruded in one of their countries (Iraq) looking for WMDs that were never there and Oil that we couldn’t take during the first gulf war. I remember when Al-jazeera informed that S. Hussein wwas at the peak of popularity in Iraq just the days previously to the Iraq war. That’s because they united under him against a common enemiy… us. The american troops bombarded their homes and monuments, wrecked their country even more than how it was, and they responded by forming the greatest resistance that country ever had. They kill american soldiers every week because they see them as the enemy. And they greatly enlarged Al-Qaida’s numbers recting to the american presencie. Because they rightly see the American government as the enemy, and many radical islamists who promote violence became their voice and their leaders. We went there to prevent mass killing and gave them just that… mass killing. We went there to export democracy and they rejected it because of the blood they had to pay for it.

    But their radical leader will keep controlling them and promoting violence as long as they see us as the enemy. When president Bush tells us they kill themselves in suicide bombings just because they’re “hate us” and are “jealous of us” he’s being insulting and moronic. That people wants something… the very same thing evrybody wants… better lifes. And won’t stop following their conflictive leader unless they stop seeing us as the enemy. Talking to them…. not making agreements, just talking to them… is the right thing to do. And we have to do it through those kinds of leaders because they have banded under them, and let them became their voice. So, to stop the terrorism, we need to listen. We need to listen to what they want to say. And then we can talk. Anti-americanism doesn’t exist without a reason. Don’t be fooled by this idiotic president and those who agree with him but know better and just go along because it’s profitable to them (remember all the oil? remember Halliburton?)

    I prefer the talking what Obama proposes instead of the continued bloodshed that will derive from what Bush and McCain defend.

  • Josh

    Stalin, of course the West didn’t create Islamic extremism. What we did do, however, is give it a pretty darn big soapbox to stand on with our meddling in their affairs. You cannot seriously look at American foreign policy in the Middle East since 1949 and think that it had nothing to do with the rise of Islamic extremism. Where was it before? It existed, sure, but there’s a pretty clear correllation between the two.

  • Babs

    Dreadsen, I commented on that somewhere on here last week. McCain’s saying “sooner or later we’ll have to deal with them” is in no way flip flopping. Remember, Hillary’s way “to deal with them” was to “obliterate” them. “Deal with them” is open to very wide interpretation. No matter how huffington wants to try to twist it, it won’t break. McCain’s statement doesn’t even come close to saying he’d meet with them without pre conditions.

  • Stalin


    The question you need to ask yourself is, “what would the middle east be like if we hadn’t done anything.”?

  • Josh

    It’d probably be a lot better off, Stalin, and so would we.

  • Stalin


    I highly doubt that. Do you also think that we should not have stopped Saddam in Desert Storm? Should we let the Arab countries take over Israel? Do you really think that if we just shut all of our military bases and came home that the rest of the world would just behave and leave us alone?