05/16/2008 12:16 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

"Appeasement": Guilt-By-Analogy... When Guilt-By-Association Isn't Enough

I was the split-screen bystander on Hardball last night when Chris Matthews exposed Kevin James as the quintessential right wing slandering bloviator.

James was of course pathetic but his -- and Bush's and McCain's -- strategies aren't so funny. Basically, when you've lost an argument because facts and history aren't on your side, resort to unprovable guilt-by-association or, as in appeasement, guilt-by-analogy.

It was bad enough when McCain tried to link Hamas and Obama because Hamas said it preferred Obama. And if the Klan endorsed McCain because he wasn't the black guy, would McCain have a problem if someone said that McCain and the Klan are one and the same?

Then Bush makes his instantly famous appeasement attack at the Knesset on Obama. We've seen this movie before. Whenever conservatives can't win an argument on the merits, they attack some real or perceived enemy as Hitler. So Ho Chi Mihn was Hitler. bin Ladin was Hitler. Ahmadinejad was Hitler. Of course Hussein was Hitler. And anyone who does something to try to resolve conflict short of more war is Neville Chamberlain.

Beyond the fact that Mr. President 28% has next-to-credibility on much of anything, least of all in the Middle East, the attack on Obama is ridiculous.

As the late PM Yitzhak Rabin famously said, you negotiate not with your friends but your enemies. Was Israel -- with far more experience and its survival at stake in dealing with war and terrorism -- wrong to neogtiate with former enemy Egypt, with successful result...wrong to negotiate with former enemy Jordan, with successful result... now wrong to talk to Syria about peace in exchange for the Golan? Churchill rightly understood that at times of potential or actual conflict, it was better to "jaw jaw than war war."

Given where Bush's ready-fire-aim approach has gotten us in Iraq, it's good for the next president to pursue a strategy of common security when it comes to such inter-border problems as terrorism, pollution, AIDS and nuclear proliferation. Bush and McCain's military-first impulse has proven a calamity for America and the world because, to quote even a momentarily cogent Don Rumsfeld, "we can't kill them all."

Take Iran and Ahmadinejad, the newest "Hitler." Iran can't stop laughing at Bush's foreign policy. He attacks its long-time enemy Iraq, allowing Iran's Shia majority to have far more influence in a Shia-majority Iraqi government. And Bush at the same time provides an unpopular Iranian government with a convenient outside enemy to rally nationalistic support to its side. Which is why Secretary Robert Gates himself has advocated talking more to Iran. What an appeaser!