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Stumbling Over Dictators

In the all-politics-is-local department:

While the national pundits sound off on who "won" last night's YouTube debate, the headline looks very different in Florida.

Here's the top of a Miami Herald story:
"Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and John Edwards suggested Monday that they would meet with two leaders who top South Florida's most-hated list: Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez.
"During a nationally televised debate, Obama responded to a hypothetical question about whether he would meet with 'the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries.' ''

Hillary Clinton drew a sharp contrast with her rival from Illinois, saying she would not agree in advance to such meetings because "I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes."

Nowhere are passions higher about the likes of Castro and Chavez than in the land of the hanging chads, so naturally that would be big news in Florida. That's one of the challenges of running for president: there are many constituent groups out there that feel passionate about one issue that may be only of passing importance to voters elsewhere.

The Obama camp seemed to realize that their man had stepped on a land mine. According to National Review, Obama's media adviser, David Axelrod, said after the debate that the senator "said that he would be willing to talk. And what he meant was, as a government, he'd be willing and eager to initiate those kinds of talks, just as during the Cold War there were low-level discussions and mid-level discussions between us and the Soviet Union and so on. So he was not promising summits with all of those leaders."

In Congress, that's called revising and extending your remarks.

--Howie Kurtz

By Post Editor  |  July 24, 2007; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , The Debates  
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Comments

Even the least intelligent person in the United States without any political knowledge knows that before meeting with an opposing leader of another country like Fidel Castro, a president needs a form of diplomatic preamble set in place ... on that note, someone, who claims to be a political pundit like CNN's legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said, "Obama looked inexperienced and naïve... It was a very big win for (Clinton) on that question.'' Surprising, it was funny that Madam Hilary Clinton spoke to a radio station the next day stating that Barrack was "irresponsible and naïve..." What a coincidence. When asked by Anderson Cooper if he felt his question was answered, Stephen Sorta of Diamond Bar, Calif., said he was more ''pleased'' with Obama's response. Another shocking thing was also that all the 24 people used for polling in the South Carolina felt the same way even though they thought Hilary would come out favorable at the end of the debate. As an American, I am sick of the press and tired of politics as usual, there is an old saying that says, "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer," not talking to our so called "foreign enemies" is why America's reputation is now a mess around the world. What regular people think and say is not properly represented by the media today.

Posted by: yomiking1 | July 25, 2007 7:00 PM | Report abuse

If America wants to reassume leadership in the world, it will have to take an approach closer to Obama's than Hillary's. The fact is, we should always be above these third world developing nations that, since Ho Chi Minh in the 1910s, have merely wanted recognition from us. Instead, we let them be a pain in our sides and fight with them on their level (which, incidentally, Hillary, provides far more powerful propaganda for such regimes than anything that might come from a peaceful meeting).

So if they want to talk to us, why not? We meet with President Wen, President Putin, et. al., why would we be afraid to deal directly with the others?

Such is a Cold War mentality that needs rethinking in a global age.

Posted by: christiano15 | July 25, 2007 2:03 AM | Report abuse

It seems to me that Mrs. Clinton had her ducks in a row on this question and that David Axelrod would prefer to be doing these debates himself, given that he seems to know what Mr. Obama "meant" to say.

Posted by: BurgundyNGold | July 24, 2007 6:21 PM | Report abuse

come on everyone, you think that Obama or Edwards upon taking the oath of office will jump on a plane for cuba, venezuela or iran. clinton just gave detail of what would preceed the meetings.
i think its great t speak to the opposition. no communication leads to speculation.

Posted by: priceisright | July 24, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Florida the land of stolen elections and where Cuban Americans send money to relatives in Cuba. Howie you take these comments way to seriouly. Nothing that Cheney/Bush do or say seems to concern you greatly.

Why is talking to hostile governments so scary? Some of our supposed friends cause me greater concern,i.e., Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Posted by: bunkerhill | July 24, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we lived in a country with a free-press that gave more scrutiny to clear signals from Bush and Cheney that they were planning to invade Iraq, pre-911, than they are giving to a candidate merely saying he's open to meeting with two of that region's leaders.

Posted by: NMP1 | July 24, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

These lines, from the above article which are quoted from the Miami Herald are substantively inaccurate.

"'Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and John Edwards suggested Monday that they would meet with two leaders who top South Florida's most-hated list: Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez...Hillary Clinton drew a sharp contrast with her rival from Illinois, saying she would not agree in advance to such meetings because "'I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes.'"

In fact, John Edwards, who responded after Hillary Clinton, agreed with her that advance work using emissaries would be necessary to make sure that the meetings would not be used for propaganda purposes. It is likely that Barack Obama, who responded before Hillary Clinton, would also agree with that caveat. In fact, all three candidates felt that talking to some (perhaps, all) of the leaders mentioned in the above article would be a useful diplomatic endeavor.

I did not see a "sharp contrast" in the position of the candidates on this issue.

Posted by: hoefnagels | July 24, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

These lines, from the above article which are quoted from the Miami Herald are substantively inaccurate.

"'Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and John Edwards suggested Monday that they would meet with two leaders who top South Florida's most-hated list: Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez...Hillary Clinton drew a sharp contrast with her rival from Illinois, saying she would not agree in advance to such meetings because "'I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes.'"

In fact, John Edwards, who responded after Hillary Clinton, agreed with her that advance work using emissaries would be necessary to make sure that the meetings would not be used for propaganda purposes. It is likely that Barack Obama, who responded before Hillary Clinton, would also agree with that caveat. In fact, all three candidates felt that talking to some (perhaps, all) of the leaders mentioned in the above article would be a useful diplomatic endeavor.

I did not see a "sharp contrast" in the position of the candidates on this issue.

Posted by: hoefnagels | July 24, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I think many Americans would prefer a 'summit' prior to sending our troops in ill-advised and with no end in sight.

Posted by: linnie1 | July 24, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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