Thursday, June 19, 2008

Unilateral undivided gaffes

A couple of stories from the Obama campaign recently illustrate one of Obama's greatest weaknesses. His inability to admit mistake.

First, Obama went before AIPAC and told the audience of his committment to an undivided Jerusalem, but then immediately had to backtrack when Palestinians objected.

Now his campaign comes out to tell us:

Democrat Barack Obama misused a "code word" in Middle East politics when he said Jerusalem should be Israel's "undivided" capital but that does not mean he is naive on foreign policy, a top adviser said on Tuesday.

Addressing a pro-Israel lobby group this month, the Democratic White House hopeful said: "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."

The comment angered Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967, as the capital of a future state. "He has closed all doors to peace," Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said after the June 4 speech. Obama later said Palestinians and Israelis had to negotiate the status of the city, in line with long-held U.S. presidential policy.

Daniel Kurtzer, who advises Obama on the Middle East, said Tuesday at the Israel Policy Forum that Obama's comment stemmed from "a picture in his mind of Jerusalem before 1967 with barbed wires and minefields and demilitarized zones."

Second, Obama campaigned hard in the primaries against Hillary to out-anti-NAFTA her. Now? Not so anti. Obama has given an interview to Forturne Magazine to try and walk back his prior position:

In an interview with Fortune to be featured in the magazine's upcoming issue, the presumptive Democratic nominee backed off his harshest attacks on the free trade agreement and indicated he didn't want to unilaterally reopen negotiations on NAFTA.

"Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified," he conceded, after I reminded him that he had called NAFTA "devastating" and "a big mistake," despite nonpartisan studies concluding that the trade zone has had a mild, positive effect on the U.S. economy.

Does that mean his rhetoric was overheated and amplified? "Politicians are always guilty of that, and I don't exempt myself," he answered.

I just can't figure out why Obama can't simply admit the true nature of his mistake and move on.

He clearly intended to say that NAFTA must remain undivided, and that he would unilaterally open up Jerusalem for negotiation.


No comments:

Post a Comment