Reacting angrily today to President Bush’s suggestion that Sen. Barack Obama and other Democrats are in favor of “appeasement” of terrorists, former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., spoke out on behalf of the candidate from Illinois and his fellow Democrats.
“I am shocked and, actually, very, very saddened by what the President has done,” Daschle said during an interview he gave to Fox News.
“This is an unprecedented political attack that we’ve never seen a president do before.”
Daschle, who has thrown his support behind the Obama campaign in the upcoming presidential election, said the President didn’t have to refer to anyone by name in his address to the Israeli Knesset for Daschle to know exactly what he was trying to do.
The pointed remarks, which represent the first shot the Bush administration has taken at Obama’s presidential campaign, came during a speech Bush gave to the Israeli parliament commemorating the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence.
Comparing negotiating with Iran to trying to appease the Nazis in 1939, Bush blasted away by saying, “Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along."
Daschle recognizes the remarks as a reference to the Democrats’ willingness to sit down with leaders from the Mideast for talks after the presidential election in November
“I think the ironic thing,” he said, “is that Bush’s own secretary of statee – just in the last couple of weeks – has done exactly what Barack Obama has called for, and that is to engage with the Iranians. So he ought to start by firing his own secretary of state.”
Commenting further, Daschle went on to say, ““We know that what this administration has done these last eight years has not worked. In fact, it’s only gotten worse,” he said.
“I think the most important thing is to underscore the extraordinary failure of this administration when it comes to Iraq. Things could not get much worse than they are, and they are continuing to deteriorate as a result of the tough talk and no action that we’ve gotten from this administration.”
Daschle said Iran today is “a lot more influential than they were eight years ago. Their nuclear proliferation program has expanded, and the very failures that Bush has been unable to address are the ones he’s now trying to blame others for.”
What has led to the criticism of Obama is the suggestion that he would meet with leaders — like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom Bush likened to Osama bin Laden, Hamas and Hezbollah — to discuss the on-going and potentially explosive situation in the Middle East.
Political opponents from the other side of the aisle have suggested that to engage Iran in diplomatic talks would be fool-headed, dangerous, and could lend credibility to a dictator who deserves none.
Daschle, however, believes it is time to engage.
“It is time to do something differently,” he said, “and I think that quieter heads – wiser heads – have called for just that. This isn’t something that just Barack Obama has advocated; this is something that, across the board, European leaders, Asian leaders, and leaders in our own country have called for, too.”
He added, “It’s really too bad to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Israel this way. It’s very, very disappointing. But, this is something we are ready for. We are going to engage in this debate.”
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