by David Epstein
The discussions so far of the outrage caused by Bush's remarks in Israel center around the President's breaking the norm of not conducting domestic politics on foreign soil. What has received less attention so far is the fact that Bush is using words that he -- and his speechwriters -- apparently doesn't know the meaning of.
Read the statement in question again:
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.
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.
The senator in question is William Borah (R-ID), and if you know what you're talking about, then the word you expect to hear describing his comment is "hubris," not "appeasement." To appease someone is to concede something to them in return for the expectation of future concessions; this was Chamberlain's mistake in the Munich accords. What Borah was suggesting was -- well, it's hard to know exactly what he was thinking of, but he certainly wasn't saying that we should have bought Hitler off in return for promises of good future behavior.
So what should we make of Bush's remarks? Do they mark a shift in US policy that we will no longer have talks with bad guys since this is nothing more than appeasement? Will we break off all communications with North Korea tomorrow? Will we disavow the negotiations with Libya that recently bought us success? Of course not -- no one expects Bush to make sense any more. And it's probably better that way; we're much better off for the next eight months having the rest of the world ignore all of Bush's comments regarding US international policy.
By the way, Bush's stupidity has a ripple effect on all the right-wing drone commentators -- they don't know what they're talking about either. One of them got called out, hilariously, by Chris Matthews here.