“Bill Clinton Without the Girlfriends”

That’s what my friend Bob Cunningham calls Barack Obama, noting this bit of wacky logic in today’s New York Times:

He addressed Republican contentions that he was willing to meet unconditionally with Mr. Ahmadinejad. Mr. McCain has said several times recently that he could not conceive of sitting down and talking with a foreign leader who has called for Israel’s extinction, and he has described Mr. Obama as all too willing to do so.

The criticism is clearly meant to stoke unease that some Jews have expressed over Mr. Obama’s candidacy, a problem Mr. Obama has been trying to address.

Mr. Obama drew a distinction, saying his administration would start negotiations with Iran “without preconditions” and being directly involved himself. For that to occur, he added, Iran would have to meet benchmarks or conditions.

That reiterates remarks he has made numerous times in the past year, though not in a YouTube debate last July that the McCain campaign has repeatedly cited.

I guess it all depends on what the meaning of “conditions” is. The Times seemed to think it made perfect sense.

By the way, Obama’s diatribe against President Bush and John McCain was delivered in my home town, Watertown, South Dakota. It generated more publicity than Watertown has gotten in a long time, and I’m pretty sure some old friends of mine (the Democratic ones) were involved in Obama’s appearance. But I’m a bit annoyed that this image was beamed from coast to coast:

17obama.span.jpg

Apparently Obama chose to hold his rally in a “livestock arena” where, according to the Times, there were “wood chips and even cow chips scattered on the floor.” I assume the Obama campaign chose the venue with the idea that these rustic visuals would enhance his populist credentials, but it would have been easy to find a more comfortable venue–Watertown Stadium, say, or the Watertown Civic Arena. This is the best photo I could find of the arena on short notice:

Not a cow chip in sight. For what it’s worth, I can’t recall ever hearing of a public event in Watertown being held in a livestock arena.

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