Penitent-in-chief

I’ve been watching small doses of the Democratic presidential debate. It’s basically a pander-fest. That’s pretty standard Democratic fare on domestic issues — try to top the other candidate’s laundry list — but it’s a bit disconcerting to see it extend into foreign policy.
For example, a question about Cuba in the post Fidel era prompted a bidding war on dictators with whom the U.S. should negotiate directly and immediately: I’ll see you Raul and raise you Ahmadinejad.
Obama eventually won this war by promising personally to talk to Raul, Ahmadinejad, etc. without precondition. He did assure us, however, that he would first prepare for these meetings.
Clinton suggested that bestowing a presidential visit on the world’s worst regimes without first getting something in return might not be particularly shrewd. Obama was having none of it. That might have made sense in the old days, he said. However, now that President Bush has turned the world so decisively against us, it would smack of “arrogance” to expect anything from Raul Castro or Ahmadinejad before rushing off to talk to them.
Obama thus pledges to wander the world, hat-in-hand, trying to prove America’s lack of arrogance to our worst enemies. But only after preparing for the meeting.
The president as Penitent-in-Chief. Jimmy Carter, call your office.
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