Monday, May 19, 2008

Returning to the scene of the crime

Was George Bush's Knesset speech the biggest rhetorical disaster of his presidency? It may well be. The clear attempt to play domestic politics with the comparison of Obama to Neville Chamberlain. The scant attention to the Palestinians -- mentioned only as one of the fantasy outcomes of his 60-years-from-now dream. And the hailing of Israel as such a perfect country that actual Israelis would have wondered what he was talking about. Finally, its pairing with his lecture to Arab leaders in Sharm al-Sheikh -- the same Arab leaders who he needs to be a part of his Israel-Palestine peace process.

Anyway, revealing who wrote the political parts of the speech, Bush's chief political operative (and archetypal Irish-American "regular guy" phony) Ed Gillespie has written an intemperate letter to NBC News which airs not just a difficult-to-follow dispute about the editing of a Bush interview discussing the Knesset speech but two other grudges that the White House has been nursing (over whether Iraq is in a civil war and the economy is in recession). Note, in the latter disputes, the attention to semantics as opposed to actual conditions.

Gillespie's counterclaim over the "appeasement" issue boils down the claim that NBC News made it seem that Bush equated "negotiating with Iran" with appeasement when "appeasement" should have been --

in the proper context of taking the words of leaders seriously, not "negotiating with Iran" ...

Bush needs this definition because his government negotiates with Iran all the time over things, such as Iraq and (via the EU and Russia) uranium.

But note the preposterous definition of appeasement that he has been led into, albeit the one that was already clear from his Knesset speech. Here is Bush's view of the run-up to World War 2, as implied by his definition:

July 1925: Hitler publishes Mein Kampf. Only Winston Churchill reads it.
September 1939: Shocking the entire world, except Winston Churchill, Hitler invades Poland.

Because everyone else "appeased" Hitler by not taking his book seriously.

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