Shampoo and Preconditioning
27 September 2008, 1:06 PM
So in that debate thingy, they spent a crapload of time (actually 1.3 craploads) talking about preconditions. I thought Barack Obama did a very bad job responding to Sen. McCain’s nonsense, so I’m going to type in an alternate response, which I think he should have had prepared.
John McCain: What Senator Obama doesn’t seem to understand that if without precondition you sit down across the table from someone who has called Israel a stinking corpse, and wants to destroy that country and wipe it off the map, you legitimize those comments. This is dangerous. It isn’t just naive; it’s dangerous. And so we just have a fundamental difference of opinion. Blah, blah, blah. And we ought to go back to a little bit of Ronald Reagan’s "trust, but verify," and certainly not sit down across the table from—without precondition, as Senator Obama said he did twice, I mean, it’s just dangerous.
YHB pretending to be Barack Obama: John, I’m sorry, but it seems like you think that when I say I won’t demand preconditions for negotiations, I mean I’ll have an open door and any maniac or tin-pot dictator can just waltz in, stand on my desk and give a speech on worldwide satellite TV. That’s just wrong. That’s not my policy. And if you misunderstood it, well, I need to take responsibility for that and fix it. So I’d like to explain what my policy will be, and how it’s different from the Bush policy you’ve been supporting for eight years. And then, John, I’d like you to respond to my actual policy, not to whatever you’re talking about. All right?
John McCain: You said without preconditions! No backsies!
YHB pretending to be Barack Obama: Here’s the Bush policy, John. If we want some concession from somebody—we want Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program, we want Russia to recognize the territorial sovereignty of the Ukraine and Georgia, we want a trade deal or cooperation of any kind with another nation— President Bush has been demanding all those concessions as a precondition for negotiation. In other words, we won’t negotiate with Iran about their nuclear weapons program unless they give up their program before we even start!
Now, that would be a great policy. If it worked. If we got everything we wanted before we even sat down at the table, that would be great. And if it worked, then sure, I would support it. But it doesn’t. It didn’t work with North Korea—and even George W. Bush had to agree to come to the table eventually—it didn’t work with Iran, it hasn’t worked with Russia. It doesn’t work. People will not give up all their bargaining chips as a precondition of bargaining.
My policy is this: My State Department will engage with other countries at all levels. I will welcome chances to negotiate for what we want. And I will do that without preconditions for that negotiation. The Bush policy, which you’ve been supporting for eight years, is to demand those preconditions. Mine is, simply, not to. That’s what I’ve been talking about, and that’s what I would like to hear you respond to.
John McCainBut you said no preconditions! It’s dangerous! Blah, blah, blah.
…anyway, it’s not like John McCain would have broken down and wept, or that he would have stopped claiming that Barack Obama’s first day in office would involve tea with Hitler, Stalin and Peter the Hermit. But people who didn’t know what the hell either one was talking about might get the sense that (a) John McCain is lying, and (2) Barack Obama does know what the hell he’s talking about.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,