John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Obama Visit to the Oval Office

Posted on November 10, 2008



            President Bush welcomed President-elect Obama to the White House today.  Apparently, it was Obama’s first visit to the Oval Office.


            I have only been to the Oval Office a couple of times, one time when Clinton was President and one time when the current occupant was there.  You get the sense when you are there that this is where really big decisions get made.  It is a special place.


            I wonder what Barack Obama was thinking when he first got there.  He was probably thinking, “I am smarter than this joker.  I can do this job.”


            Obama might think he is smarter than Bush, but he better think very carefully about how he approaches the decisions that Bush made and that he is thinking about reversing. 


            Obama has publicly stated that he would like to pull American troops out of Iraq almost immediately and that he would have open up talks with the Iranians.  He has also privately mused about reversing the Bush decision to put anti-ballistic missiles into Poland as part of an effort to create a protective shield against possible Iranian missiles.


            All three of those decisions, however, would have far-reaching and negative consequences for American diplomacy.  Pulling our troops out too soon could have a devastating impact on our efforts to create a stable and prosperous Iraq.  The Iraqis are not out of the woods yet, and too quick a pullout could be a disaster.


            The Israelis are especially concerned with Obama’s position to talk to the Iranians without preconditions.  They see that any sign of weakness will embolden the Iranians and possibly endanger country.


            And if we reverse our decision to deploy missiles to Poland, the Russians will claim victory.  They will portray this as a triumph for an aggressive and powerful Russian empire and it will deal a severe setback to the Poles, who went out on a limb to support this American policy.


            Elections have consequences.  President Bush might have seemed like he didn’t know what he was doing, but to the Poles, the Iraqis and the Israelis, his firm hand gave them comfort against enemies of peace and freedom.  It is easy to give a nice speech and lofty rhetoric.  It is not always easy to take steps that may be politically unpopular, but good for the security of our country and our allies. 


            I hope President Bush gave President-elect Obama that advice as they spoke in the Oval Office today. 

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