Clever Karl

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"Clever Karl"

If you think of Karl Rove as a basically malign person who doesn’t care at all about the well-being of the American people or the world at large, this is a pretty clever point:

If Mr. Obama believes he can change the behavior of these nations by meeting without preconditions, he owes it to the voters to explain, in specific terms, what he can say that will lead these states to abandon their hostility. He also needs to explain why unconditional, unilateral meetings with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or North Korea’s Kim Jong Il will not deeply unsettle our allies.

Obviously, the problem here is that it would be irresponsible for Obama to spell out publicly and in advance precisely what kind of deals he’d be aiming to strike with Iran or North Korea. Nobody negotiates for anything that way. But the plan here is that when Obama correctly declines to do that, Obama can then be mocked for allegedly having “secret plans” and so forth.

As with a lot of conservative national security gambits, I could easily imagine this working except for the fact that conservative foreign policy has at the moment been revealed as a huge and unpopular catastrophe which makes it easy to (accurately) shorthand these critiques as part and parcel of John McCain’s determination to continue with Bush’s failed policies. So I don’t see it working. But qua talking point, it’s a good one.

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