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George W. Bush, Ironist

Did anyone else find Bush's speech before the Israeli Knesset today a little ironic? At one point, he made a version of the Obama argument that people everywhere pretty much want the same thing, and that we can achieve it if we're not distracted by cynics who exploit fear and difference for political purposes. See this riff on what the Middle East will look like in 60 years:

Overall, the Middle East will be characterized by a new period of tolerance and integration. And this doesn't mean that Israel and its neighbors will be best of friends. But when leaders across the region answer to their people, they will focus their energies on schools and jobs, not on rocket attacks and suicide bombings.

Of course, Bush said this only minutes after trying to distract American voters from what unites them by exploiting fear for political purposes:

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Is this man entirely lacking in self-awareness? Okay, don't answer that. But what about his speech writers?

Update: Also, those of us who worry that the split between Hillary and Obama supporters will be deep and lasting appear to have dramatically underestimated Bush's competence in at least one area: uniting the Democratic Party. Here, via the Caucus, is Hillary on Bush's Knesset comments:

“President Bush’s comparison of any Democrat to Nazi appeasers is offensive and outrageous,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Especially in the light of his failures in foreign policy. This is the kind of statement that has no place in any presidential address.”

--Noam Scheiber