So here's the deal: President Bush slams foreign policy "appeasers" in a speech in Israel and Barack Obama says to himself, "Hey, he's talking about me." Read part of the Associated Press report below, and then get my take:
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama accused President Bush on Thursday of launching a "false political attack" with a comment about appeasing dictators.
The Illinois senator interpreted the remark as a slam against him but the White House denied that Bush's words were in any way directed at Obama, who has said as president he would be willing to personally meet with Iran's leaders and those of other regimes the United States has deemed rogue.
In a speech to Israel's Knesset, Bush said: "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.
"We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all 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."
Obama responded with a statement, seizing on Bush's remarks even as it was unclear to whom the president was referring.
"It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack," Obama said in the statement his aides distributed. "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."
The White House said Bush's comment wasn't a reference to Obama.
Let's take a step back for a second. President Bush has made similar statements before. But now in the context of a presidential election, the Obama campaign sees it as a slap at them.
You know what? They're right. Whether it was intentional or not is not really the point. President Bush is allowed to make that statement because he's been down that "appeaser" route before. This is nothing inherently new in what he said. Of course The White House knew how Obama would interpret it.
I see this as an early warning sign from the Republican Party and here's the message: "Obama, we're coming after you and we're going to paint you as a liberal appeaser who is not ready to deal with the serious national security threats that face our nation."
McCain is the perfect candidate to carry out that mission. The Obama campaign's response reflects the jittery notion that they know they are vulnerable in a General Election on the appeaser issue.
The problem for the Republican Party is that this year may be different. In years past, national security was their bread and butter. They could rely on votes based on the fact that they would do a better job of protecting the country.
Yet three things are different this year: 1. Polls show Democrats have made inroads with voters on national security. 2. The war in Iraq is a problem for the Repbulican party. 3. The economy, not national security is voters number one concern.
I still say that a terrorist attack in October changes the equation and helps the GOP. But if the terrorists want to deal with Obama/Clinton instead of McCain, they'll sit on their bombs.