the blog of DC Drinking Liberally
Two questions from Bush’s press conference today, presented without comment:
Q […] I’d like to ask you about another issue that’s kind of come up on the campaign trail, in terms of discussion, which is, this is a point of view that has been espoused, that we would be better off if we talked to our adversaries, in particular, Iran and Cuba, you know, without preconditions. And as President, you have obviously considered and rejected this approach. And I’m wondering if you can give us a little insight into your thinking about this, and just explain to the American people what is lost by talking with those when we disagree?
THE PRESIDENT: What’s lost by embracing a tyrant who puts his people in prison because of their political beliefs? What’s lost is it will send the wrong message. It will send a discouraging message to those who wonder whether America will continue to work for the freedom of prisoners. It will give great status to those who have suppressed human rights and human dignity.
I’m not suggesting there’s never a time to talk, but I’m suggesting now is not the time — not to talk with Raul Castro. He’s nothing more than an extension of what his brother did, which was to ruin an island, and imprison people because of their beliefs.
I had these wives of these dissidents come and see me, and their stories are just unbelievably sad. And it just goes to show how repressive the Castro brothers have been, when you listen to the truth about what they say. And the idea of embracing a leader who’s done this without any attempt on his part to release prisoners and free their society would be counterproductive and send the wrong signal.
Q No one is saying embrace him, they’re just saying talk –
THE PRESIDENT: Well, talking to him is embracing. Excuse me. Let me use another word — you’re right, “embrace” is like big hug, right? You’re looking — I do embrace people. Mike, one of these days, I’m just thinking about — (laughter.) Right, okay, good, thank you for reminding me to use a different word. Sitting down at the table, having your picture taken with a tyrant such as Raul Castro, for example, lends the status of the office and the status of our country to him. He gains a lot from it by saying, look at me, I’m now recognized by the President of the United States.
Now, somebody would say, well, I’m going to tell him to release the prisoners. Well, it’s a theory that all you got to do is embrace and these tyrants act. That’s not how they act. That’s not what causes them to respond. And so I made a decision quite the opposite, and that is to keep saying to the Cuban people, we stand with you; we will not sit down with your leaders that imprison your people because of what they believe; we will keep an embargo on you; we do want you to have money from people here in the homeland, but we will stay insistent upon this policy until you begin to get free.
And so that’s the way I’ve conducted foreign policy, and will continue to conduct foreign policy. I just remind people that the decisions of the U.S. President to have discussions with certain international figures can be extremely counterproductive. It can send chilling signals and messages to our allies; it can send confusion about our foreign policy; it discourages reformers inside their own country. And in my judgment, it would be a mistake — on the two countries you talked about.
Some questions later:
Q […] In China a former factory worker who says that human rights are more important than the Olympics is being tried for subversion. What message does it send that you’re going to the Olympics, and do you think athletes there should be allowed to publicly express their dissent?
THE PRESIDENT: Olivier, I have made it very clear, I’m going to the Olympics because it’s a sporting event, and I’m looking forward to seeing the athletic competition. But that will not preclude me from meeting with the Chinese President, expressing my deep concerns about a variety of issues — just like I do every time I meet with the President.
And maybe I’m in a little different position. Others don’t have a chance to visit with Hu Jintao, but I do. And every time I meet with him I talk about religious freedom and the importance of China’s society recognizing that if you’re allowed to worship freely, it will benefit the society as a whole; that the Chinese government should not fear the idea of people praying to a god as they see fit. A whole society, a healthy society, a confident society is one that recognizes the value of religious freedom.
I talk about Darfur and Iran and Burma. And so I am not the least bit shy of bringing up the concerns expressed by this factory worker, and I believe that I’ll have an opportunity to do so with the President and, at the same time, enjoy a great sporting event. I’m a sports fan. I’m looking forward to the competition. And each Olympic society will make its own decision as to how to deal with the athletes.
I see AltHippo has a related post on his blog.
So, who’s hosting a debate party tonight? Inquiring minds want to know.
Meanwhile, I’ve been checking out this NYT article. Some interesting stuff:
“There’s a general rule in politics: A legitimate distinction which could be effective when drawn early in the campaign often backfires and could seem desperate when it happens in the final hours of a campaign,” said Steve McMahon, a Democratic strategist working for neither candidate.
Timing is everything, as they say. My favorite line of the article, though, comes in the introduction: (emphasis mine)
After struggling for months to dent Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy, the campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is now unleashing what one Clinton aide called a “kitchen sink” fusillade against Mr. Obama, pursuing five lines of attack since Saturday in hopes of stopping his political momentum.
Here’s the schedule: MSNBC, 9-10:30.
Here’s the Fast Facts on the debate from Mahalo:
1. When: February 26, 2008
2. Where: Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio
3. Sponsors: NBC
4. Participants: Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama
5. Moderators: Brian Williams and Tim Russert
6. A limited number of tickets will be made available to students and the public
7. Ohio Primary: March 4, 2008
8. The Hillary Clinton Campaign almost withdrew from the debate after some disrespectful comments about Chelsea Clinton were made on MSNBC
Join us February 21, 6:30 to 9, in the back room of Timberlake’s (1726 Connecticut Ave NW, north of Dupont Circle) for our February guest speaker, Bernie Horn.
Bernie Horn will be discussing and signing copies of his book “Framing the Future: How Progressive Values Can Win Elections and Influence People.” The Daily Kos writes: “Politics,” says Bernie Horn, “is too important to be left to the professionals in Washington.” It’s hard not to love a book that so directly appeals to progressive dedication to participatory democracy — and provides a sterling set of guidelines on how to make our ideals prevail.
Copies of “Framing the Future: How Progressive Values Can Win Elections and Influence People” will be available for sale at the event.
More on Bernie Horn:
Bernie Horn has worked on politics and public policy for the past 30 years as a campaign manager, political consultant, lawyer, lobbyist, communications director, and policy director. He is currently Senior Director for Policy and Communications at the Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA), one of the premier progressive policy and leadership centers in Washington, D.C. His most recent books for CPA are the Progressive Agenda for the States (which lays out 50 policy solutions for state legislators), Progressive Platform for the States (a candidate briefing book covering 115 state issues), and Progressive Policy Models for the States (containing 123 model bills).
Judging by Google News search results, journalists seeking a name for the February 12 primary in DC, Maryland, and Virginia are breaking in favor of alliteration:
I prefer “Chesapeake primary” myself, because it covers the widest area. The vast majority of voters in tomorrow’s primary are not in the DC area. Besides, I don’t want my brother’s head to explode.
At least the odious name “Beltway primary” is losing badly.
Regardless of what you call it, if you’re a registered Democrat in DC or Maryland, or a registered voter of any sort in Virginia, make sure you get to the polls tomorrow. It’s not often that those of us outside the early states actually get a say in who our presidential candidate is, so let’s make the most of it. And if you’re having trouble deciding, the correct answer is Barack Obama!
Atrios is, of course, kidding when he says the primary race will all boil down to what happens in Pennsylvania. He is kidding, isn’t he?
At any rate the point of immediate attention is our own fair city and environs: (CNN)
With Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton almost even in delegate counts, the two Democratic presidential candidates will focus on several weekend contests and then a trio of primaries in the Washington area next Tuesday.
So, whose turn is it to throw a party?
DCDL regular Ian is having a party on Super Duper Tuesday to raise funds for his Blue Catapult PAC, which is doing its part to put more Democrats in Congress:
In the DC area? Help us celebrate our first fundraiser of 2008.
You are invited…
Super Duper Tuesday
Tuesday February 5 2008
7:30 - 11:00 pm
Watch the returns from 20 primaries across the country on two fantastic large screen flat TVs.
Meet & greet DC Democrats.
Free finger food; full cash bar.
$20 contribution if under 30 / $30 otherwise
17th street cafe
1513 17th St., NW
Washington, DC 20036
(Dupont Circle Metro)
Should be a good time. If you go, please try to avoid getting into shouting matches or fist fights with supporters of the other candidate.
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