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What Obama did and did not say5 min read

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It is easy to take a political opponents words out of context and make them seem to be saying something unpopular or even incorrect. Some conservatives are trying to assert that Sen. Obama called Israel a “constant sore” in an interview. The actual quote shows that he said the unresolved conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians was a “constant wound” or a “constant sore” that “infect[s] all our foreign policy.”

He did however say:

Over the last 15 months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states? I think one left to go. Alaska and Hawaii…

Marc Ambinder got it right – Obama is just tired, nothing of any real consequence, but … McCain saying it – that would be a different story.

A bit more troubling, though less “sound-bitey” is the new assertion by surrogates that Obama never said as President, he would meet unconditionally with rogue nations like Iran.

One of his foreign policy advisors told the NY Times:

Mr. Obama believes “that engagement at the presidential level, at the appropriate time and with the appropriate preparation, can be used to leverage the change we need. But nobody said he would initiate contacts at the presidential level; that requires due preparation and advance work.”

The only problem – he said just that in the YouTube debate, a New York Times interview and on his own website.

At the YouTube debate:

Question: … would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?

Obama: I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them — which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration — is ridiculous. …

In the earlier New York Times story:

Senator Barack Obama said he would “engage in aggressive personal diplomacy” with Iran if elected president, and would offer economic inducements and a possible promise not to seek “regime change” if Iran stopped meddling in Iraq and cooperated on terrorism and nuclear issues…

Making clear that he planned to talk to Iran without preconditions, Mr. Obama emphasized further that “changes in behavior” by Iran could possibly be rewarded with membership in the World Trade Organization, other economic benefits and security guarantees…

On his campaign website:

Diplomacy: Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions. …

To be fair, later on the website reads that Obama “will do the careful preparation necessary…” but that contradicts his statements about no preconditions.

What if you do all the “careful preparation necessary” and you found out that Iran wants to do a personal meeting for propaganda purposes and use it to harm our national interests? According to what Obama has said earlier (and on his website now), he would still meet with them because their are no preconditions they have to meet prior to him meeting personally with them.

I honestly think Obama realized his earlier statements were a bit too aggressive and unrealistic, so he is trying to back track from them somewhat. Possibly the more he has learned from advisors and others, he has realized it would be a dangerous precedent to establish meeting with rogue regimes “without preconditions.”

No one should have a problem with a politician learning as they go. I would hope every politician grows and adapts the more they learn about situations. The problem is trying to lie about what was said earlier. If Obama truly wants to run a different kind of campaign and be a different kind of politician, he can do that by simply saying that after gathering additional information he has decided that it would not be in America’s best interests for the President to meet with leaders of enemy states with no preconditions. My estimation of him would increase were he to do that.

Like on the gas tax holiday, I actually appreciate his current stand on it. Maybe he has done this I don’t know, but I wish he would come out and say that he did support it at one time, but now that he knows more about economics he can no longer support the gimmick.

But I think it is disingenuous to attack him over the Israel comment, silly to bring up the “57 states” flub and not beneficial to our system to go after him for changing his position on meeting with enemy nations. I just wish he would admit he has changed, but getting a politician, any politician, to ever admit they may have been wrong at some point during their life is a difficult task.