How weak is the GOP criticism of Obama’s speech? The best criticism that former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer could off of President Obama’s Cairo speech today was that it was too balanced. While Rush Limbaugh was left to babble about how Obama offered the Muslim version of ACORN and Rev. Wright.
Fleischer told CBS News, “I thought it was a great speech – on paper. The problem is reality. Bottom line — the speech was balanced and that was what was wrong with it. American policy should not be balanced. It should side with those who fight terror.”
The former Bush press secretary thought that the speech should have been more pro-Israel, “In part, it was similar to Bush’s constant message that both sides had obligations to fulfill. But Bush always leaned – privately and publicly – in Israel’s direction because they were being hit with terror attacks. Obama really wants to be in the middle. Bush took sides and was sometimes blunt about it.”
Meanwhile Rush Limbaugh was left with nothing but a recycling of the old ACORN and Rev. Wright attacks. Rush characterized Obama’s call for interaction with Muslims as a call for a Muslim ACORN and a Muslim Rev. Wright.
Here is the audio from Media Matters:
The best shot that Republicans can take at Obama was that the speech was too balanced? Isn’t balance a good thing? People who complain about this speech just don’t get it. The speech was about taking the first step towards changing the tone and perception of the United States in the Muslim world. The idea here is to change the good guy versus bad guy framework that defined the Bush foreign policy.
Fleischer is still trying to frame all Muslims as terrorists, which is the problem with Bush model. Not all Muslims are terrorists. In fact the best way to combat extremism is not to go it alone, or to try to bully and bribe the Muslim world, but to build relationships to fight against extremists and terrorists.
Obama’s policy reminds me of the Clinton policy, which was the closest that the world has come to peace in the region. The Bush policy was a complete and total failure that hurt American relations with the Muslim world. If the Bush policy fueled extremism, the speech today was Obama’s attempt to cut the fuel line.