Saturday, September 27, 2008

obama does the southside shuffle on meeting with iran

McCain and Obama went at it over the issue of meeting with Mahmoud the Tent Maker, currently the president of Iran. It was an interesting interplay:

--Obama was clear on meeting with the “most powerful person” in Iran.
--Then he tried to focus on only lower-level meetings.
--Then he seemed to invoke Kissinger as supporting the highest-level meeting.

I grabbed three sources: The debate transcript; Obama’s website; and Kissinger’s statement.

A few points are clear from the excerpts below:

--Obama is referring to meeting with Mahmoud (or, in fairness, the “most powerful person” in Iran).
--McCain would never give a hater of Israel such political cache.
--Contrary to Obama’s assertion, Kissinger does not support Obama’s position.

Let’s roll the tape. First up are relevant excerpts from the September 26, 2008 Debate.

OBAMA: So let's talk about this. First of all, Ahmadinejad is not the most powerful person in Iran. So he may not be the right person to talk to. But I reserve the right, as president of the United States to meet with anybody at a time and place of my choosing if I think it's going to keep America safe. (NOTE – Watch as everything else he says does not reference this top level-to-top-level meeting)

And I'm glad that Senator McCain brought up the history, the bipartisan history of us engaging in direct diplomacy.

Senator McCain mentioned Henry Kissinger, who's one of his advisers, who, along with five recent secretaries of state, just said that we should meet with Iran -- guess what -- without precondition. This is one of your own advisers. (NOTE – Here is where Obama is either purposefully misleading or sloppy – he is tying Kissinger to the top level-to-top level meeting.)

MCCAIN: I'm not going to set the White House visitors schedule before I'm president of the United States. I don't even have a seal yet.

Look, Dr. Kissinger did not say that he would approve of face-to- face meetings between the president of the United States and the president -- and Ahmadinejad. He did not say that.

OBAMA: Of course not. (NOTE – Now Obama begins to back down.)

MCCAIN: He said that there could be secretary-level and lower level meetings. I've always encouraged them. The Iranians have met with Ambassador Crocker in Baghdad.

What Senator Obama doesn't seem to understand that if without precondition you sit down across the table from someone who has called Israel a "stinking corpse," and wants to destroy that country and wipe it off the map, you legitimize those comments.

This is dangerous. It isn't just naive; it's dangerous. And so we just have a fundamental difference of opinion.

MCCAIN: So let me get this right. We sit down with Ahmadinejad, and he says, "We're going to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth," and we say, "No, you're not"? Oh, please.

OBAMA: No, let me tell... (NOTE – “No”? But he accepted the premise of the statement – he would meet with him. Again, sloppy.)

MCCAIN: By the way, my friend, Dr. Kissinger, who's been my friend for 35 years, would be interested to hear this conversation and Senator Obama's depiction of his -- of his positions on the issue. I've known him for 35 years.

OBAMA: We will take a look.

MCCAIN: And I guarantee you he would not -- he would not say that presidential top level.

OBAMA: Nobody's talking about that. (NOTE – Yes, you are talking about that, not just in the first portion of this extract, not just in accepting the premise of McCain’s statement, but below as well.)

Here is a cut-n-paste from the Obama Campaign website – Foreign Policy. Just in case the section gets changed soon, I have taken a screen shot and present that following the text.

Talk to our Foes and Friends: Obama and Biden are willing to meet with the leaders of all nations, friend and foe. They will do the careful preparation necessary, but will signal that America is ready to come to the table, and that he is willing to lead. And if America is willing to come to the table, the world will be more willing to rally behind American leadership to deal with challenges like terrorism, and Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs.

The money quote: “willing to meet with the leaders of all nations, friend and foe.”

It seems, contrary to his debate statement that, yes, we are “talking about that.”

Finally, Henry the K says, “Um, no”: "Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality."

The final analysis is clear. Obama has told Iran that if he is elected, he is willing to meet with Mahmoud or whoever is deemed the “most powerful person in Iran.” McCain will not meet with the leader of a terrorist nation, asserting that to do so legitimizes its terrorist behavior.

I trust the Jewish voters are listening closely.

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