|VIDEO: Edwards Enters the Fray.|
Well, well, well, now this is really getting interesting. But I have to tell you, I don’t know what Obama’s going to do with this one.
ABC blog, seems that in an interview with a reporter from the Miami
Herald the day before the YouTube-CNN debate, Barack Obama said he’d meet with Chavez, but only “under certain
conditions.” But the day after that interview he said
he’d meet “without preconditions.” Then after the debate, as we’ve
all seen, Obama has continued full tilt on his no preconditions line. So what happened
in twenty-four hours to have Obama going from preconditions to no conditions at all, with a heavy dose of attack Clinton with gusto on the side?
There has been no explanation, because as far as I know there has
been little coverage of this not insignificant item.
Herald’s Andres Oppenheimer got the interview before the YouTube –
CNN debate, in which Obama was quite candid about preconditions. Oppenheimer
I was not terribly surprised when Sen. Barack Obama said in the Democratic
presidential debate Monday that he would sit down with Cuba’s Fidel Castro
and Venezuela’s Hugo ChÃƒÂ¡vez if elected president. He had told me so
a day earlier — and much more — although with a very important caveat.
In a wide-ranging interview on foreign affairs, and Latin America in particular,
the Democratic presidential hopeful criticized President Bush’s foreign policy
as excessively ”based on the dislike of Hugo ChÃƒÂ¡vez.” And
he told me that he would not only sit down with the Venezuelan president
”under certain conditions” but would travel to leftist-ruled
Bolivia — Venezuela’s closest ally in South America — at the start of his
presidency. (emphasis added) .. ..
Preconditions one day, the next day, not so much.
A day later, at the CNN-YouTube Democratic Debate, Obama raised eyebrows
nationwide when he responded affirmatively to a question on whether he would
be willing to meet — without preconditions — in the first year of his presidency
with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea.
Asked the same question at the debate, Sen. Hillary Clinton seized the moment
to portray Obama as a rookie on foreign affairs, saying that she would not
hold such meetings right away because “I don’t want to be used for propaganda
In our interview, the senator from Illinois had been a bit more cautious.
When I asked him whether he would meet with ChÃƒÂ¡vez, he had said, “Under
certain conditions, I always believe in talking. Sometimes it’s more
important to talk to your enemies than to your friends.” … ..
Mr. Obama was closer to being right in the Miami Herald interview, though I’m not so much for “preconditions” as I am for setting up a muscular diplomatic effort that builds outreach and structure over time, paving the way for presidential involvement when the time is ripe for real negotiations.
The fact remains, as reported, that Obama obviously changed his mind 180 degrees some time before the debate (or on the spot?), just one day later. So either Mr. Obama had an epiphany after
talking about preconditions with Oppenheimer, or campaign calculation intruded on his prior better instincts. Or maybe somebody else’s sense of Reagan
worship and “Bush-Cheney
lite” sloganeering somehow slipped into Obama’s rhetoric just to pump up the political theater of the week. But to
look at the video of Obama attacking Clinton as “Bush-Cheney lite,”
he sure sounds like a man who believes what he’s saying.
But talk about changing directions and finding your voice quickly. You’ve got to admire that in a politician. Complete with snappy attack points to boot!
Oh, and with due respect to Joe Trippi, this debate (turned smackdown) that’s going on between Obama and Clinton about when we’ll talk to
thugs and how we’ll re-engage American diplomacy post-Bush matters. It matters a lot. Edwards should engage in this debate, not scold Obama and Clinton for having it.
But I do have a couple of questions for Barack Obama, but also David Axelrod, who
has to be in this mix, because camp Obama has gotten too clever by half lately. What
happened to change your mind from the Miami Herald interview to the
YouTube – CNN debate one day later? And if you were talking preconditions before the debate,
at that moment were you “Bush-Cheney lite” too? You know, before you changed your mind.