Barack Obama has just taken the next step towards a complete disregard for America's foreign policy by back slapping self-professed enemy to the "great Satan," tin pot dictator and oppressor, Hugo Chavez. As Obama grins and associates with such low-end characters, treating them as worthy members of the international community, he drags down both the United States and any country that strives to treat its people with the dignity they deserve as human beings.
But, Obama is, at least, fulfilling a campaign promise to treat all foreign leaders as equals no matter how evil, oppressive, and murderous they are. His compatriots on the left agree with this sort of engagement claiming that such "diplomacy" can only be a good thing. Despite this, though, this basic engagement-is-good ideal is not a principle held consistently by the left proving that situational ethics are the only ethics that the left can muster.
Think back to the late presidential campaign where candidate Barack Obama showed his unpreparedness for leading American foreign policy by saying that he'd meet just any old murderous foreign dictator "without preconditions." You'll recall that the leftist spin on that statement was that Obama was right to rely on diplomacy and that meeting and talking was a good idea no matter what. Diplomacy was the cure to anything went the mantra from the left.
Those realists on the right, however, said that meeting with every tinpot dictator the world has to offer lowers the president and the United States and lifts up those dictators supplying them with undeserved legitimacy. Naturally the left decried this claim and said engagement does nothing of the kind.
Yet the left's engagement-is-good concept took a turn in the opposite direction when now President Obama launched his ill-considered war with radio talker Rush Limbaugh. Suddenly, lefties all across the country were decrying the administration's attack on Limbaugh saying that it is beneath the dignity of the White House to engage Limbaugh and saying that doing so lifts Limbaugh up to undeserved legitimacy.
So, as far as the left is concerned it's OK to "legitimize" murderous dictators that terrorize their own people by engaging with the White House but it's not OK to legitimize a talk show host? What is wrong with this picture?
Amazingly, it didn't occur to these lefties that they were making the lie to their previous position supposedly dearly held. If by engaging him the White House legitimizes Limbaugh then what does it do for foreign dictators and strongmen that are beneath a legitimate place on the international stage? The illogic of their position, of course, doesn't faze them it appears.
Well, to be sure, what is wrong is that the left has no principles, no logic and nothing but spin in their political positions. They have situational ethics that change with the winds.
During the 2008 campaign for the presidency, Obama made what many considered the major gaffe of saying he'd talk to America's enemies "without preconditions." In March of 2008, for instance, Foreign Policy In Focus, a foreign policy think-tank, posted a Howard Salter piece discussing the issues. In that piece, Salter compared the candidate's views on foreign policy and diplomacy.
Obama has consistently said, "We need to rediscover the power of diplomacy. So I said very early on in this campaign that I will meet not just with our friends but with our enemies, not just the leaders I like, but leaders I don't."
Meanwhile, Clinton is opposed to Obama's idea. "We simply cannot legitimize rogue regimes or weaken American prestige by impulsively agreeing to presidential-level talks with no preconditions," she said. "It may sound good, but it doesn't meet the real world test of foreign policy."
Obama believes that, "Not talking doesn't make us look tough – it makes us look arrogant, it denies us opportunities to make progress, and it makes it harder for America to rally international support for our leadership. On challenges ranging from terrorism to disease, nuclear weapons to climate change, we cannot make progress unless we can draw on strong international support."
He feels that this type of direct diplomacy will help restablish our nation's image and credibility around the world. Echoing President John F. Kennedy, he has said, "And I will send once more a message to those yearning faces beyond our shores that says, ‘You matter to us. Your future is our future. And our moment is now."
In reply to Obama during the campaign John McCain said that talking to terrorists and dictators only strengthens them. In September 2008, CNN reported that, "McCain is saying that if you meet without preconditions you are legitimizing them."
Recently, Frank Gaffney in the Washington Times agreed with McCain's worries from last year.
Can there be any doubt what America's adversaries make of all this? Great grief will come our way if they conclude, as Mr. Alinsky surely would, that our power is waning and that they can exercise theirs with impunity against our interests - and those of whatever friends we have left.
There were then many other voices in praise of Obama on the issue, of course.
On July 2, 2008, the World Policy Institute -- publisher of World Policy Journal -- posted a blog by Benjamin Pauker that more or less came down on Obama's side. Pauker's general conclusion was that it can't hurt. "It's hard to see how it would hurt" to have direct diplomacy with murderers and thug dictators he decided.
Leftwing bloggers also quickly got into the game. On November 2nd, 2008, one blogger said of Obama's claim to want to talk to our enemies that his, "willingness to engage his enemies will help reduce the future potential for warfare."
Another Obama supporter praised his desire to talk to dictators back in December of 2008.
President-elect Barack Obama has espoused his philosophy of talking with the enemy, of the importance that diplomacy would play in his administration and, more specifically, that he would engage in talks with Iran or with President Ahmadinedjad. He made it clear that he would not invite him over to the White House for tea one day. But that this would be a well-prepared meeting, yet without pre-conditions. President-elect Obama also espoused that he stands for tough diplomacy but wants normal diplomatic relations with Iran. And President Ahmadinedjad has wanted to enter into conversation with the U.S. for a very long time. Luckily, both are ready and willing to engage in this dialogue.
Yet at the same time, after the recent Somali pirate standoff ended, Gloria Borger of CNN defended Obama for not engaging the pirates. Borger praised Obama for not negotiating with the Somali pirates that held Captain Philips on April 12 saying, "Would it have been better if the president of the United States had publicly engaged with a bunch of teenage thug pirates? It's beneath Obama's pay grade and dignity -- not to mention how it would have added fuel to an already incendiary situation."
Is there a difference between engaging "thug pirates" and engaging thug dictators? Apparently Borger thinks so, but this is in direct refutation of the campaign spin that the left supplied to Obama in 2008. Curiously, during the campaign, Borger herself tried to cover for Obama by claiming that he didn't really say he'd meet foreign terrorists and dictators without preconditions. On CNN she said that meeting without preconditions would be bad, but claimed that Obama was "making that distinction." She went on to say, "He's saying with preconditions, perhaps you could eventually get around to talking." This is quite a stretch from what Obama actually said during the campaign but it does comport the the left's attempt to cover for him.
Naturally, folks on the right disagreed, even to the rank-and-file. In February of 2008, for instance, one commenter on a blog said that it is a bad idea to meet with dictators. "A U.S. Presidential meeting further legitimizes a dictator inside his own country. By meeting with the dictator, a U.S. President thus discourages the success of internal dissenters who are risking their lives to oppose the dictator."
But as I said, that was then. Now we have the White House engaging Rush Limbaugh and suddenly the left has flip flopped on the concept of what "legitimizes" enemies and what doesn't.
Witness the blathering of one Earl Ofari Hutchinson the purported Political Analyst and Social Issues Commentator for the Huffington Post. On March 28 Mr. Hutchinson was quite exercised over the Limbaugh issue.
The gabber instantly snatched at the quip and turned it into a multi show bonanza. No matter what topic Limbaugh gassed on, he managed to slide in a reference to Obama's prop up of him as the Democrat's prize punching bag. This did three things. It gave him an even bigger pile of fodder to puff himself up as the emperor of talk radio, claim to be the real kingmaker in the GOP, and in a perverse way paint himself as a credible and thoughtful political critic. It snapped many shell shocked Congressional Republicans out of their post election funk. Now suddenly feisty and combative, they draw a deep line in the sand against any and everything that Obama proposed. And it stiffened the spines of many timid Republicans and made them determined not to be bullied, or at least appear not to be bullied, by a mere talk show host into standing up to Obama.
Any other time this might be fun and games stuff, a side show distraction that bored reporters and TV talking heads used to fill up column space or a talk cast on off a slow news day, but the Democrats just couldn't let it go. And that insured that the Limbaugh as Democrat's foil ploy would continue to have shelf life.
Limbaugh in a phony self-deprecating moment mockingly minimized his importance as a radio talk show host, feigning puzzlement at why the Democrats were so obsessed with him. He was right.
Who cannot see that this is a direct refutation of the engagement-is-good spin that the left offered Obama to excuse his foreign policy gaffe during the late campaign?
Another Huffington Poster, Peter Daou, scolded the White House for taking on Limbaugh. Daou said that Democrats are "legitimizing and empowering" Limbaugh by engaging him.
There's precious little benefit in making Limbaugh more of a central player, in engaging him directly from the White House podium, in raising his stature, in stamping, sealing and approving the years he's spent bashing his political opponents.
Many liberal commenters on various blogs were also upset that the Obama administration launched the anti-Limbaugh war. One commenter by the name of Sandy, for instance, said referring to Rush that "Obama would be even a bigger fool to engage the jerk."
But at some point, even Obama Press Spokesman Robert Gibbs said it was "counterproductive" to engage Limbaugh.
So, what can we learn from this comparison? We see that the left uses arguments only in such a way as to excuse their behavior and that they will take the same argument and turn it on its head for the next situation. So logic and consistency is obviously not a concern for them.
But, worse than that, what we see from the left is a major disregard for the safety of this country. The same people that said it was a bad idea to engage a mere radio talk show host -- and a fellow American to boot -- the same people that found it disgusting to engage in the arena of ideas on matters of American domestic policy with other Americans thought it was perfectly fine to engage murderous dictators that stand as self-professed enemies to this country.
It seems obvious that a sense of priorities is wholly lacking on the American left today.