A lit­tle rock hits a noisy tar­get

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

Throw a rock into a con­gre­ga­tion of col­lies, retriev­ers, poo­dles, spaniels and as­sorted other aris­to­crats and you can be sure the dog yelp­ing in un­ex­pected pain is the one you hit.

Pres­i­dent Bush, mark­ing the 60th an­niver­sary of the found­ing of Is­rael, re­minded the Knes­set May 15 that the ap­pease­ment of evil is the route to catas­tro­phe.

“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,” he said. “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 — which has been re­peat­edly dis­cred­ited by his­tory.”

How could any­one with even a Clas­sic Comics un­der­stand­ing of his­tory quarrel with that? Who could doubt that ne­go­ti­at­ing with ter­ror­ists is an ex­er­cise for fools? Who doubts that we’ve heard delu­sional ap­pease­ment talk all through his­tory? Who would quarrel with the propo­si­tion that “the com­fort of ap­pease­ment” has been re­peat­edly dis­cred­ited by his­tory? Where bet­ter to say this than to those who live with the risks and per­ils of ap­pease­ment of Is­lamist thugs in the Mid­dle East?

Well, a lot of prom­i­nent Democrats, be­gin­ning with Barack Obama, that’s who. The or­a­tor prince of the South Side of Chicago was re­duced to splut­ter and slash. “It is sad [. . .] this false po­lit­i­cal at­tack [. . .] it’s time to turn the page on eight years of poli­cies that have strength­ened Iran and failed to se­cure Amer­ica or our ally in Is­rael.”

Then he re­peated the naive mus­ings of in­ex­pe­ri­ence that could be taken for ap­pease­ment talk, pre­scrib­ing “tough, prin­ci­pled and di­rect diplo­macy to pres­sure coun­tries like Iran and Syria.” Nancy Pelosi, the dowa­ger queen of San Fran­cisco Democrats, said the pres­i­dent’s re­marks were “be­neath the dig­nity of the of­fice” and Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illi­nois, the Clin­ton util­ity man, asked whether “this pres­i­dent has no shame.” Sen. Joe Bi­den of Delaware, ever ea­ger to steal the cliches of oth­ers, couldn’t de­cide whether to af­fect the voice of the barn­yard or re­flect the twit­ter of the ladies’ tea room: The pres­i­dent’s re­marks were “[the ef­flu­via of a bull]” or “malarkey.”

A White House aide noted that the pres­i­dent had sounded sim­i­lar warn­ings be­fore, and if the pres­i­dent’s hys­ter­i­cal crit­ics wanted to iden­tify the ap­peasers, they could look to Jimmy Carter and his pas­sion­ate em­brace of Syr­i­ans and Pales­tinian ter­ror­ists on his merry prankster ap­pease­ment tour of the Mid­dle East, just now con­cluded. Mzz Pelosi de­manded that John McCain dis­avow the pres­i­dent, pre­sum­ably in the way that she and other prom­i­nent Democrats did not dis­avow the peanut farmer from Plains.

“The Amer­i­can sen­a­tor” in the pres­i­dent’s ci­ta­tion, who imag­ined that he could have led Hitler to the Lord with a few well-cho­sen words in 1939, was William E. Bo­rah of Idaho, an iso­la­tion­ist Repub­li­can of the early 20th cen­tury, a ladies’ man of Clin­to­nian ap­petite and an or­a­tor with Barack Obama’s rep­u­ta­tion for spin­ning smooth ap­pease­ment talk. Sen. Bo­rah, like Sen. Obama, thought his golden tongue would re­solve all ar­gu­ments in his fa­vor, and, like Bill Clin­ton, imag­ined that his sex­ual prow­ess was ir­re­sistible. Some­times it was. He left a small-town law prac­tice in Kansas early in the cen­tury when he got a young wo­man “in the fam­ily way” and her male rel­a­tives sug­gested that he leave town on the next train. He de­parted for dis­tant Idaho. Once elected to the U.S. Se­nate, he cut a wide swath of no­to­ri­ety in Wash­ing­ton, where he con­ducted a long af­fair with Alice Roo­sevelt Long­worth, whom de­lighted cap­i­tal gos­sips called “Aurora Bo­rah Alice.” You might think Sen. Obama, Mzz Pelosi, Mr. Emanuel and Joe Bi­den would be flat­tered that the pres­i­dent cited some­one of skills and ap­petites so familiar to them.

Wesley Pruden is ed­i­tor emer­i­tus of The Times.

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