Turnout is heavier than expected in Israel. The results should be in by the time I begin today’s broadcast, and given the next Prime Minister’s crucial importance to America’s future, I’ll spend a lot of time on the results on the program.
Here is the most important Q&A of the president’s press conference, with commentary on what some of Tehran’s mullahs must have been thinking.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. I’d like to shift gears to foreign policy. What is your strategy for engaging Iran, and when will you start to implement it? Will your time table be affected at all by the Iranian elections? And are you getting any indications that Iran is interested in a dialogue with the United States?
Here we go. We are the second question in his first press conference. Obviously he continues to organize to attract our attention.[# More #]
MR. OBAMA: I said during the campaign that Iran is a country that has extraordinary people, extraordinary history and traditions,
He realizes that we are not to be trifled with…
but that its actions over many years now have been unhelpful
Unhelpful? To whom? Us? We are still here.
when it comes to promoting peace and prosperity both in the region and around the world;
Does he really think we care about peace and prosperity around the world?
that their attacks or — or their — their financing of terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas,
Ah, he caught himself coming to close to offending us and attributing to us responsibility for attacks he will find inconvenient to have acknowledged later on
the bellicose language that they’ve used towards Israel,
“Bellicose language?” Why does he downgrade our threat of genocide to “bellicose language?” Is there anything we can’t say? Memo to Mahmoud: Amp it up and see if he still calls it “Bellicose language.”
their development of a nuclear weapon or their pursuit of a nuclear weapon
Heh. He doesn’t know which it is. Perhaps he thinks we already have it and cannot be deterred.
– that all of those things create the possibility of destabilizing the region and are not only contrary to our interests, but I think are contrary to the interests of international peace.
But not our interests.
What I’ve also said is that we should take an approach with Iran that employs all of the resources at the United States’ disposal, and that includes diplomacy.
He is as eager as any president we have ever manipulated. This will be easy.
And so my national security team is currently reviewing our existing Iran policy,
No more meddlesome Bush…
looking at areas where we can have constructive dialogue,
What is he offering us?
where we can directly engage with them.
What is he talking about? Will he settle for a meeting and then leave iraq?
And my expectation is, in the coming months, we will be looking for openings that can be created where we can start sitting across the table, face to face; of diplomatic overtures that will allow us to move our policy in a new direction.
All he really cares about is a meeting or two he can sell at home as a breakthrough.
There’s been a lot of mistrust built up over the years, so it’s not going to happen overnight
Does he really believe that we can reconcile?
And it’s important that even as we engage in this direct diplomacy, we are very clear about certain deep concerns that we have as a country, that Iran understands that we find the funding of terrorist organizations unacceptable,
Yes, yes, yes. Boilerplate.
that we’re clear about the fact that a nuclear Iran could set off a nuclear arms race in the region that would be profoundly destabilizing.
Israel has nukes. Do you suppose we can bully him into demanding Israel declare and denuclearize?
So there are going to be a set of objectives that we have in these conversations, but I think that there’s the possibility, at least, of a relationship of mutual respect and progress.
Can he really be serious?
And I think that if you look at how we’ve approached the Middle East, my designation of George Mitchell as a special envoy to help deal with the Arab-Israeli situation, some of the interviews that I’ve given,
He really thinks that interview was a masterstroke.
it indicates the degree to which we want to do things differently in the region.
All we have to do is announce he’s better than Bush and he’ll give us anything we want.
Now it’s time for Iran to send some signals that it wants to act differently as well and recognize that even as it is has some rights as a member of the international community, with those rights come responsibilities.
After two weeks he thinks he’s coaxed us into a change of policy? Two weeks?
The president’s press conference was a huge mistake, not because he made a partisan case for his massive spending plan. Nothing else could be expected.
But when he distorted the GOP opposition as wanting to do nothing he lost the game. The American people are tuned into this debate and know very well that the GOP is committed to a large but balanced stimulus plan that puts tax relief and immediate infrastructure spending to work to immediately surge the economy. They have listened closely to the arguments made on the Senate floor and know that the president’s bald mischaracterization of those positions is just false.
Combine that bit of theater with the deeply disturbing answer on Iran –looking for Iran to reach out to us after two weeks of “diplomacy”– and his incoherent explanatuion of the origins of the financial crisis, and the president left millions cold and worried tonight. He may get his porkapalooza, but the campaign rhetoric tonight is not up to the job, and voters know it.
UPDATE: The New York Times reports White House officials are pleased that the president made no obvious blunders. Right.
As anyone who saw 60 Minutes a couple of weeks back, the town of Wilmington, Ohio has been very hard hit by recession-realted cutbacks. The economic toll has been extraordinary, and soFeedTheChildren is sending some supplies to assist the hardest hit families.
If you’d like to contribute to that effort, you can call 1-800-604-0300 , or donate online here. Sugartree Ministries, featured in the 60 Minutes piece, is the lead agency for the food distribution effort.