It was one of the most memorable moments of last summer’s campaign, one that many thought would torpedo Obama’s chances.
Here’s what Smith quotes Obama as saying now: “‘There’s no reason why we would necessarily meet with Ahmadinejad before we know that he was actually in power,’ ” he said. ” ‘He’s not the most powerful person in Iran.’ “
Smith rightly points out that Obama stood by his answer well into the primary season, calling it “an effective point of contrast with Hillary in the primary.”
Having spent much time up in New Hampshire last summer, I remember Obama taking it even further.
Last July, I drove up to Concord’s Eagle Square to see Congressman Paul Hodes endorse Obama. Here at Gitell.com, I observed “there’s no question that Obama’s willingness to meet with the despots of Iran, Syria, Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela is electrifying the progressive grassroots, particularly in New Hampshire.”
Reporting for The New York Sun, I noticed that Obama not only stood by his pledge, he upped the ante on it. His direct quote, using the word dictator, reinforces the fact that he was specifically referring to Ahmadinejad.
“It is no longer sufficient to trot out the old formulas, the old tired phrases. If we want fundamental change, then we can’t be afraid to talk to our enemies. I’m not afraid of losing the p.r. war to dictators,” Mr. Obama said to prolonged applause. “I’m happy to look them in the eye and say what needs to be said… I don’t want a continuation of Bush-Cheney. I don’t want Bush-Cheney lite, I want a fundamental change.”
In presidential politics, it’s long been commonplace for candidates to move leftward to win Democratic primaries and caucuses and then tack to the center to win general elections. But it’s not exactly a new kind of politics. It’s the same kind of politics we’ve always had.