Phase One in the Transition to the Caliphate

I finally got a chance to read Obama’s interview with Al-Arabiya, and I really did not find anything groundbreaking in it. Larison is skeptical:

Quin Hillyer complains about Obama’s first television interview, which Jake Tapper reports will be with Al-Arabiya. This is different, but it doesn’t mean very much one way or the other. At most it means that President Obama was serious when he made irenic remarks in his Inaugural directed to Muslims, but I suspect this has zero significance when it comes to policy. Like the appointment of George Mitchell, which represents an exception to the general rule of administration personnel on regional policy, giving an interview to Al-Arabiya is a conciliatory gesture designed to try to make up for the reality of U.S. policy. It is the sort of conciliatory move that Obama believes he can make because he is confident in his own “pro-Israel” bona fides, as well he might be considering the make-up of his Cabinet, staff and Middle East policy team, just as Obama’s general acceptance of national security ideology gives him the flexibility and the political cover to critique and oppose individual policy decisions.

This Al-Arabiya interview is most likely a case of attempting to “re-package” or “re-brand” the same policy in a more attractive way, which assumes that Arab and other foreign publics are not reacting negatively to the substance of U.S. policy but only to its presentation. More basically, critics of this interview must not understand Obama at all. Obama likes negotiation and consensus-building, and he likes to try to explain one group’s situation to another. This is the peril of his bridge-building instinct that I mentioned long ago: the attempt to convey a message from one side to another is routinely mistaken as a concession to the other side. This is why some other conservatives (usually those who ended up voting for him) made a very different kind of mistake in assuming that Obama sympathized with certain conservative policy proposals that he did not dismiss out of hand.

What stood out to me in the interview is that Obama clearly seems to be looking to hit the “reboot” function in regards to the Middle East, and seems to be of the mind that enough people on both sides have realized that the status quo is unsustainable:

And so what I told him is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating — in the past on some of these issues — and we don’t always know all the factors that are involved. So let’s listen. He’s going to be speaking to all the major parties involved. And he will then report back to me. From there we will formulate a specific response.

***

And so what we want to do is to listen, set aside some of the preconceptions that have existed and have built up over the last several years. And I think if we do that, then there’s a possibility at least of achieving some breakthroughs.

***

And that is that the language we use matters. And what we need to understand is, is that there are extremist organizations — whether Muslim or any other faith in the past — that will use faith as a justification for violence. We cannot paint with a broad brush a faith as a consequence of the violence that is done in that faith’s name.

And so you will I think see our administration be very clear in distinguishing between organizations like al Qaeda — that espouse violence, espouse terror and act on it — and people who may disagree with my administration and certain actions, or may have a particular viewpoint in terms of how their countries should develop. We can have legitimate disagreements but still be respectful. I cannot respect terrorist organizations that would kill innocent civilians and we will hunt them down.

But to the broader Muslim world what we are going to be offering is a hand of friendship.

Overall, it seemed to me to be a very humble interview (example: “And so what I told him is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating…”), as if he is extending an olive branch to all parties involved. Whether or not they will be willing or able to look past what has already happened is the key to whether or not anything productive can move forward, and I have no idea if that is possible, given the history of the region. As to Larison’s point, it remains to be seen whether or not our actual policy will change, but what I got out of this interview is that Obama clearly wants to use the early days in his office as a fresh start, a do-over, a chance to start anew. An argument could be made that that is a change in policy, in and of itself.


Greg Djerijan had a great piece
up the other day on what a new foreign policy would look like, with a number of points, and point #3 focused on the Israel/Palestine issue (you should read the whole thing):

If we mean to cause real change then, we need to book-end this sorry chapter, and quickly. President Obama must immediately move to inject competence and strength into the uppermost reaches of American diplomacy, while also changing the substance and tone of America’s Middle East policy, not least, by recognizing the needs of both sides, to help restore our reputation as ‘honest broker’, rather than, in David Aaron’s Miller’s words, too often acting as “Israel’s lawyer.” (While Miller’s op-ed title might sound somewhat inflammatory to some, it is really anything but. Miller was merely calling for more pragmatic, even-handed handling of important negotiations, hardly controversial or incendiary fare, at least if one is sober-minded and interested in results-oriented diplomacy).

In this vein, I believe it a very positive signal that George Mitchell has been appointed special Middle East envoy (apparently with responsibility mainly for the Palestinian-Israeli brief, but also the Israeli-Syrian and Lebanese-Israeli tracks, all of which will doubtless demand much dialogue with the Egyptians and Saudis as well, in particular). I would recommend that Mr. Mitchell appoint a deputy (Dan Kurtzer, for example, a former U.S. Ambassador to Israel) bringing additional energy and more direct on the ground experience, to complement Mr. Mitchell’s gravitas, negotiating skills, and disciplined legal temperament, while also not being shy to fully use the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs as well (to include the many talented and dedicated professionals in that Bureau).

And once the immediate, and inevitable, crisis management clean-up of the recent wreckage in Gaza is accomplished (first we need to help, if through proxies, mediate schisms as between Hamas and the PA, as well as more directly liaise with differing Israeli factions set to squabble mightily during the impending political silly-season there, where we may well end up dealing with the re-emergence of Prime Minister Netanyahu after the elections), thereafter the Taba precedent should be speedily used as launching pad, of sorts, with additionally other bold strokes considered, like asking the Israelis to free Marwan Barghouti, so as to help restore Fatah as credible counter-party to Hamas, and thereafter lead the negotiations on behalf of Palestine with the Israelis. Only a leader with charisma can close a deal of such magnitude and controversy, and Abu Mazen doesn’t have what it takes, particularly after Israel’s latest operation, given these grim (if woefully predictable) tidings.

In short it is high time to cease the hapless by-standing (pre-Annapolis), or alternately, the empty spectacle (Annapolis), and instead roll up our sleeves and get to the hard work of forging a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace without a moment’s delay, and with relentless energy (without getting bogged down necessarily in a months long series of anti-smuggling discussions with the Egyptians, in large part a waste of time given factors such as these, rather than focusing on the larger strategic picture). Such hard toil can and likely will pay-off (see Camp David, Madrid, Oslo, etc), but only if all instruments of American national power are used, and focus, intelligence and intensity are brought to bear consistently from the Presidential level on down, with pressure applied even-handedly to get to the (so elusive, but not impossible) goal-line. This, and follow-through, so that gains (as Madrid and Oslo) are not then frittered away. As I said, all things being equal, the appointment of George Mitchell alone is a strong start by the President and his Secretary of State, but the effort will need to be all hands on deck, hard-charging and even-handed (that phrase again), with bold ‘out-of-the-box’ strokes employed on occasion.

This appears to be much of what Obama is trying to do. Good luck with that.

*** Update ***

I should probably add that as usual, I don’t know what the “right” way forward in this mess is, but I am hopeful that for once, we will not confuse our short-term interests with our long-term goals. One of the key points of Bacevich’s Limits of Power (yes, I know, I have never reviewed it even though I promised I would two months ago) was that for the past forty years, we have continuously made short-sighted decisions that have had horrible long-term consequences, and this region is a case study in that. I am optimistic about Obama’s language regarding looking at the Israeli/Palestine problem from a regional perspective, rather than just in isolation.






45 replies
  1. 1

    Obama is dangerously naïve, giving him the benefit of the doubt.

  2. 2
    John Cole says:

    He isn’t naïve, he is right. They can not move forward without letting go of the past.

    Whether or not that is possible is another story, but it would be foolish to try to move forward otherwise.

  3. 3
    Robin G. says:

    but what I got out of this interview is that Obama clearly wants to use the early days in his office as a fresh start, a do-over, a chance to start anew.

    I think he’s partially banking on the idea that almost everyone is looking for a do-over (which, aside from the most hardcore extremists, is the impression I’ve picked up). I think there’s a lot of people in a lot of places who have wanted to go back to more of a diplomatic approach to things, but wouldn’t with Bush because a) it wouldn’t work with him, and b) it would be suicide to be seen trying to work with that administration. Obama appearing to humbly extend his hand to Palestinians and others gives them a chance to say to themselves and their nations, "Well, if he’s going to be reasonable about this, we are willing to sit down at a table and discuss our concerns." Which I think most of them wanted to do anyway, but couldn’t without losing face. Obama is giving everyone a chance to engage in some level of diplomacy without being humiliated on the world stage. The man really is an excellent politician.

  4. 4
    Fwiffo says:

    The idea that there can be some sort of egalitarian peace in the Middle East seems just stupid to me. Answer me this: if you were a person who wanted peace, why would you live there of all places? It’s like moving to Florida for the great skiing.

  5. 5
    Svensker says:

    We’ll see. Mitchell is a good step. But I’m not encouraged by his actions in re Gaza.

  6. 6

    My reading of history is that Islam is stopped either by a dictator, or by steel. I am not a fan of either.

  7. 7
    NonyNony says:

    @Fwiffo:

    The idea that there can be some sort of egalitarian peace in the Middle East seems just stupid to me. Answer me this: if you were a person who wanted peace, why would you live there of all places? It’s like moving to Florida for the great skiing.

    Because you were born there? What kind of a numb-nuts question is that?

    You could have said the same thing about Europe in the 1800s – "Oh, it’s all war all the time over there – everyone’s always bombing someone or starting a war or something. Why would anyone want to move there?"

    Yeesh.

  8. 8
    kay says:

    The idea that there can be some sort of egalitarian peace in the Middle East seems just stupid to me. Answer me this: if you were a person who wanted peace, why would you live there of all places? It’s like moving to Florida for the great skiing.

    THE PRESIDENT: I think it is possible for us to see a Palestinian state — I’m not going to put a time frame on it — that is contiguous, that allows freedom of movement for its people, that allows for trade with other countries, that allows the creation of businesses and commerce so that people have a better life.

  9. 9
    Svensker says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    Why do we need to "stop" Islam? Are you worried about "stopping" Judaism? Or Christianity? How about Jainism?

    I know you’re only a spoof troll, but I get really sick of anti-Muslim shit.

  10. 10
    Leo says:

    My reading of history is that Brick Oven Bill is best handled by constant ridicule, or by banning. I would enjoy either one.

  11. 11
    The Other Steve says:

    You could have said the same thing about Europe in the 1800s – "Oh, it’s all war all the time over there – everyone’s always bombing someone or starting a war or something. Why would anyone want to move there?"

    Yeesh.

    Technically that’s why a lot of people from Europe moved to the United States. Notably Germans and Irish.

    Just wanted to point that out. :-)

  12. 12
    Fwiffo says:

    I suppose Europe did eventually figure out most of its shit, and it only took a couple world wars and tens of millions dead.

    How about we replace the resources we’re dumping into the mid-east conflict with a fleet of U-Hauls?

  13. 13
    Ash Can says:

    @Brick Oven Bill: I second Svensker. Enough with the anti-Islam shtick; there are far too many people who take that shit seriously.

  14. 14
    The Moar You Know says:

    Shorter Backyard Crematorium Bill: Talking to Mooslims is the same as smuggling Al-Quaeda into the country, buying them guns and ammo, and driving them to an elementary school and telling them it’s Allah’s will that they kill all the little white infidel children.

  15. 15

    what I got out of this interview is that Obama clearly wants to use the early days in his office as a fresh start, a do-over, a chance to start anew. An argument could be made that that is a change in policy, in and of itself.

    We are so goddamned lucky to have this man as president. We’re so lucky, we don’t even KNOW how lucky we are — as proven by anyone complaining about this interview. Sullivan has some good words about this today.

    I read the story last night and was postively ecstatic. HOO and RAY for the US of A and the first real president we’ve had in decades.

  16. 16
    The Moar You Know says:

    @Svensker: Given the last eight years of this nation’s history, I’ve become quite a fan of "stopping" Christianity.

  17. 17
    Joshua Norton says:

    I suppose Europe did eventually figure out most of its shit,

    Only because they got rid of the absolute monarchs, dictators and nobility who could just say "all you peasants go fight a war for me – NOW!".

    With the King "The Divine Rights of Presidents" George and the House of Lords wannabe Repigs being sent off into the wilderness, I think we can try that in this country.

  18. 18
    The Other Steve says:

    This might be an interesting read… A bit of history they don’t teach in schools.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morgan_Shuster

  19. 19
    ksmiami says:

    For my one post of the day and then I gotta book – Brick oven bill – you do know that there are like 1.2 BILLION Muslims on the planet and that we cannot go to war with them all unless we all want to die or live in huts… There has to be a new way forward and if Obama makes Al Qaeda look bad to the rest of the muslim world, then that is a huge accomplishment. He is the one guy who has the real street cred to forge this and change the death spiral paradigm American policy ahs been on since the cold war.

    I hope he succeeds

  20. 20
    Svensker says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    As a Christian, I’d agree with that!

  21. 21
    NonyNony says:

    @The Other Steve:

    Technically that’s why a lot of people from Europe moved to the United States. Notably Germans and Irish.

    Just wanted to point that out. :-)

    Sure. And we have immigrants in this country from various parts of the Middle East who are sick of the shit that they’re going through over there. The only reason we don’t have more these days is because in the 1800s there was almost zero controls on immigration and anyone who could scrounge up enough money for a boat ticket could get into the country. If the same policy were in place these days, we’d probably have similar flocks of refugees from the ME here today.

    But even in war-torn 19th century Europe you still had people who refused to leave and were trying to get the continent to stop fighting and settle down. Same in the Middle East. The only reason Europe finally calmed the fuck down was two gigantic World Wars that used modern engines of death to kill off a gigantic bulk of the population across the continent which caused Europeans to become completely sick of war for a generation and become willing to make compromises with each other to prevent future wars. And the addition of an outside enemy (the Soviets) that made them all band together tightly in a way they hadn’t before. One would hope that the leadership in the Middle East could learn the lessons of Europe without fighting their own set of World War level conflicts to do it, but it isn’t terribly surprising if they don’t manage it. Hell, much of the Middle East is still stick with pre-20th century style monarchies (that routinely get propped up against popular revolt by the US and the Europeans) and have lousy pre-20th century style economies despite being rich in natural resources, so it isn’t terribly surprising to me that they’re still stuck with a 19th century mindset when it comes to these things.

  22. 22
    Comrade Dread says:

    Clearly this is good news for John McCain.

  23. 23
    The Other Steve says:

    Only because they got rid of the absolute monarchs, dictators and nobility who could just say "all you peasants go fight a war for me – NOW!".

    Such as the French who in 1793 executed King Louis for Crimes Against Humanity.

    and then sent Napoleon to conquer Italy in 1797, starting a period of Emperial expansion that would last until Napoleon’s ultimate defeat in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo.

  24. 24
    John S. says:

    we have continuously made short-sighted decisions that have had horrible long-term consequences

    This would apply to EVERY facet of what currently ails America and not just foreign policy – the economy, health care, business, government, etc. I am hesitant to say that clamoring for short-term gain while gleefully ignoring long-term consequences is a major part of the American condition, but just look around for yourself and tell me that it isn’t.

  25. 25
    kay says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    I wish someone would mention the following to McCain:

    "I would immediately close Guantanamo Bay, move all the prisoners to Fort Leavenworth (an army base in Kansas) and truly expedite the judicial proceedings in their cases," he said.

    That’s him, while campaigning, in 2007.

  26. 26
    Joshua Norton says:

    and then sent Napoleon to conquer Italy in 1797, starting a period of Emperial expansion that would last until Napoleon’s ultimate defeat in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo.

    Nice try, but I believe we were talking about the 20th century when Europe had in fact finally ceased its belligerent Imperial saber rattling.

  27. 27
    The Other Steve says:

    Nice try, but I believe we were talking about the 20th century when Europe had in fact finally ceased its belligerent Imperial saber rattling.

    It’s always a good idea when you elect a Supreme Dictator for Life.

  28. 28
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    Waitaminit! I thought Joe the Plumber had all this under control.

  29. 29
    bayville says:

    Why would Obama want to speak directly to the people of the Middle East in a sober, respectful, intelligent way? This is really suspicious.

    And why would he appoint George Mitchell as a special envoy? Is there a steroid problem among the populace in places such as Syria or Jordan that we don’t know about?

  30. 30
    Johnny Pez says:

    Clearly Obama is making a mistake by abandoning the policy of our popular ex-president George W. Bush. If Obama wants to bring peace to the Middle East he should find some country or other and invade it.

  31. 31
    passerby says:

    This act, his granting his first interview as President of the US to the Arab/Mulsim world, speaking directly to them, conveying a do-over (start-over) approach with the goal of giving the young a chance at a better future, is how he will win the hearts and minds of the people (W, you watchin’ this?).

    YouTube Part I

    YouTube Part II

    Juan es correcto aqui:

    We are so goddamned lucky to have this man as president. We’re so lucky, we don’t even KNOW how lucky we are

    And BOB,

    Obama is dangerously naïve, giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    you seem to be intelligent, why do you insist on offering juvenile commentary? "Dangerously naive" ooooh, booga booga, booga. It’s time to grow up. At least give some reasoning, if you can, when making asinine declaratives such as this.

  32. 32
    4tehlulz says:

    Abe Foxman’s freaking out about George Mitchell. Obama must be doing something right.

  33. 33
    NonyNony says:

    @Joshua Norton:

    Nice try, but I believe we were talking about the 20th century when Europe had in fact finally ceased its belligerent Imperial saber rattling.

    Which would be the second half of the 20th century. Despite my reflexive anti-monarchical tendencies, I have to admit that both Germany and Italy managed to elect people into their respective leaderships who turned around and started wars against their neighbors. Shady elections or not, they were popular enough that the folks who might have wanted to stop them were outnumbered by the people wanting to have a go at stomping on some other people out of old grievances or divine right or whatever nonsense they decided made it worth stomping on their neighbors.

    Lack of kings may have been necessary for peace in Europe, but it certainly wasn’t sufficient. Democracy isn’t enough – the desire for an end to the destruction has to outweigh the desire to see your enemies suffer before peace can take hold (see also Northern Ireland, which kept the bloodshed going for a good long time).

  34. 34
    Comrade Dread says:

    If Obama wants to bring peace to the Middle East he should find some country or other and invade it.

    I’m not sure who runs the United Arab Emirates, but I’m pretty sure he’s just like Hitler in 1938.

    Now where’s my AEI chair and WaPo column, bitches?

  35. 35
    SGEW says:

    @Svensker:

    I know you’re only a spoof troll, but I get really sick of anti-Muslim shit.

    Alas, I believe that BOB is not, in fact, a spoof. He’s for real, eugenics, monarchism and all.

    I’m generally against banning trolls (I mean, we put up w/ Paul L. fer cryin’ out loud), but I may be with ObWi on this one, and would accept Mr. Cole banning his racist genocidal ass.

    He is the reason the internet cannot have nice things (tho’ his grammar and spelling are surprisingly admirable: his saving grace, perhaps?).

  36. 36

    […] Oh, no. Obama is talking to the wrong people in his first televised interview.  Al-Arabiya?  Oh, no.  Must not do that.  No. George W. Bush gave interviews to Al-Arabiya in May 2004, January 2005, October 2005, October 2007, January 2008, and May 2008 — six interviews, which, as far as I can tell, is six more than Bush gave as president to MSNBC. […]

  37. 37
    passerby says:

    [I’m resending this comment because the original is lost in cyberspace, so pardon if the original shows up]

    This act, Obama granting his first interview as POTUS to the Arab/World, speaking directly to them, taking a fresh-start approach with the goal of giving the young ones a chance at abetter future, is how he will win the hearts and minds of the people (W, you watchin’ this?)

    YouTube Part I

    YouTube Part II

    Juan es correcto aqui:

    We are so goddamned lucky to have this man as president. We’re so lucky, we don’t even KNOW how lucky we are

    And BOB,

    Obama is dangerously naïve, giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    you seem to be intelligent, why do you insist on offering juvenile commentary? "Dangerously naive" oooh, booga booga booga. Grow up. At least give reasoning, if you can, otherwise it’s just an asinine statement [sound of ruler rapping knuckles].

  38. 38
    passerby says:

    [I’m resending this comment because the original is lost in cyberspace, so pardon if the original shows up]

    This act, Obama granting his first interview as POTUS to the Arab/World, speaking directly to them, taking a fresh-start approach with the goal of giving the young ones a chance at a better future, is how he will win the hearts and minds of the people (W, you watchin’ this?)

    Juan es correcto aqui:

    We are so goddamned lucky to have this man as president. We’re so lucky, we don’t even KNOW how lucky we are

    And BOB,

    Obama is dangerously naïve, giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    you seem to be intelligent, why do you insist on offering juvenile commentary? "Dangerously naive" oooh, booga booga booga. Grow up. At least give reasoning, if you can, otherwise it’s just an asinine statement [sound of ruler rapping knuckles] spoof or not.

  39. 39
    DaveB says:

    I read that Netanyahu has pledged to expand the settlements if he is elected. Maybe his election will be good, because hopefully an Obama administartion would be the first to say no to Israel. At some point a line has to be drawn in the sand to Israel and say there will be repercussions there is settlement expansion because it harms the self-interest of the US.

  40. 40
    The Moar You Know says:

    I’m generally against banning trolls (I mean, we put up w/ Paul L. fer cryin’ out loud), but I may be with ObWi on this one, and would accept Mr. Cole banning his racist genocidal ass.

    @SGEW: I’m against banning Backyard Crematory Bill; yes, he can be offensive, but more importantly, he is ridiculous, and it shows with almost every post he makes.

    I’ll admit, I’m biased. I’m against banning anyone unless they’re crapflooding or being similarly disruptive. Bill, whatever his faults, is truly trying to engage. Call him out on his racism? Absolutely. Ban him? I’m against it.

    Besides, it’s good to be reminded that there are those out there who believe that blacks are stupid, and oil shale is a good idea, that the Caliphate is an inevitability, and that Republicanism is right. If he offends, take his ass to the woodshed in the comments. Use him the way a cat uses a scratching post – for practice.

  41. 41

    […] Also read what John Cole has to say. Sullivan is a conservative today, and John Cole was a conservative until the Bush Administration […]

  42. 42
    Steve S. says:

    Sweet Jesus, why not just make this American policy.

  43. 43
    Hob says:

    @The Moar You Know:
    "Practice" can get annoying though, when it starts taking over lots of threads. BOB is dead serious, but he’s also very consciously trolling — he proudly admitted on ObWi that he likes "tweeking" [sic] people to watch how they take offense (and this admission is what he was banned for — not the racist shit). In fact he considered this an admirable and manly skill to have; the example given was John McCain, who (Bill imagines) developed his super-psych-ninja political powers during his hellish prison years by annoying the guards. Seriously.

    Anyway, knock yourself out, but I’m not sure what the "practice" is for. Even if it were possible to develop Republican-doofus-defeating debate techniques that way, I don’t think this is exactly the same species. People who talk like Bill are not the average buttheads, they’re stone crazy militia types with higher than average intellect and emotional control… and you’re not going to change their minds one little bit, you’ll just reinforce their sociopathic amused detachment.

    One of the things Bill believes is that Jews are genetically defective because they have overactive consciences, as evidenced by how they are too nice to the Palestinians. Just about everyone at ObWi responded to that with everything you’d expect, and it was like water off a duck’s back. He’s not "trying to engage".

  44. 44
    socratic_me says:

    My patience with Larison runs thin. He generally has interesting conservative analysis, but reading his stuff on Obama is just painful.

    "Obama is too lefty and just talks to lefties. But he can’t really change anything because American policy on X sucks and it is a political reality that it has to suck. What is that? You say that in his first days in office he signaled radical changes from all the crap of the last 8 years and more? No extraordinary rendition??? Well, it must all be lies and subterfuge. Because Obama is going to suck. He has to, because I say so."

    I am beginning to wonder if he isn’t just worried that those people who he ridiculed for being really really excited about Obama might actually be proven right, in which case his bitter cynicism will look a bit silly. Reminds me of quite a few of the "too cool for this" high schoolers I teach, now that I think about it.

  45. 45
    Wilfred says:

    I’m in Cairo at the moment, where the general response is complete disinterest, excepting the offical Mubarak press. Nobody listens to al Arabbiya, widely seen as a US front – Rice appeared many times on that station.

    Obama wanked. There’s lots of things he could actually fucking do, of course, like pressuring the Egyptians and zionusts to open up the border crossings and let in some of the enormous amounts of aid donated to the Palestinian people.

    But that would mean doing something. Here, Obama is already a gasbag.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Also read what John Cole has to say. Sullivan is a conservative today, and John Cole was a conservative until the Bush Administration […]

  2. […] Oh, no. Obama is talking to the wrong people in his first televised interview.  Al-Arabiya?  Oh, no.  Must not do that.  No. George W. Bush gave interviews to Al-Arabiya in May 2004, January 2005, October 2005, October 2007, January 2008, and May 2008 — six interviews, which, as far as I can tell, is six more than Bush gave as president to MSNBC. […]

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