The Greatest Orator in the History of Forever reveals yet again that Bush never had a monopoly on dumb:
GOLDEN, Colo. – Hours after President Obama declared Egypt was neither an ally nor an enemy, the White House on Thursday tweaked that answer to say the strategically important nation was a “longstanding and close partner.”
Downplaying the tension evident in the president’s remarks in an interview late Wednesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama was speaking in the technical terms of diplomacy and that nothing about U.S. policy toward Egypt has changed.
"‘Ally’ is a legal term of art,” Carney said. “We do not have a mutual defense treaty with Egypt, like we do, for example, with our NATO allies. But as the president has said, Egypt is a long-standing and close partner of the United States, and we have built on that foundation in supporting Egypt’s transition to democracy and working with the new government.”
What? Even sitting here in the peanut gallery I can say with confidence that Israel is an ally with whom we do not have a mutual defense pact. Politico pounced:
The State Department affirmed Egypt's legal status as an ally Thursday — an apparent contradiction to what President Obama said in a Wednesday interview.
Asked repeatedly if the State Department still considered Egypt a major non-NATO ally — a designation they were awarded in 1989 — State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said simply: "Yes."
But Egypt was one of the first non-NATO allies designed [sic. designated is better] by the U.S. government along with Australia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, and South Korea. [link]. While the status does not imply a mutual defense pact, it does confer certain benefits.
Israel, for example, is also a major non-NATO ally without a formal security agreement — and is often called an ally by U.S policymakers and leaders.
Obama has been President for three and a half long years and literally does not know who our allies are. Rachel Maddow was leaning forwrd; let's see if she falls over with the White House clarification:
President Obama described Egypt as neither a friend nor a foe in a televised interview that aired first on The Rachel Maddow Show Wednesday.
"I don't think we would consider them an ally. But we don't consider them an enemy," Obama told Telemundo's José Díaz-Balart. "They are a new government that's trying to find its way."
Obama continued: "They were democratically elected. I think that we are going to have to respond to this incident, how they respond to maintaining the peace treaty with Israel."
Maddow highlighted the significance of Obama's comment."In diplomacy, at the presidential level, words are chosen very, very carefully," she said. "And those words represent news in terms of the U.S. relationship with a country which had, during the time of Hosni Mubarak, been among America's closest allies in the Arab world."
At the presidential level words are chosen very carefully, except by the President. This puts a twist on the media's attempt to debate whether Romney is ready to be CinC. And let's flash back to Matt Yglesias's spin on Obama's 2007 declaration that he would meet with Iran with no pre-conditions:
...at the YouTube debate on July 23, 2007, when Obama was asked whether he would be willing to meet “without precondition … with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea,” the right answer, conventionally speaking, was a qualified “no.” But Obama answered in the affirmative. Initially, even sympathetic observers like The Nation’s David Corn called this statement a “flub” at best. Hillary Clinton, the quintessence of Democratic establishment thinking, had answered that she would use “high-level presidential envoys to test the waters, to feel the way,” before holding direct meetings with heads of state.
Few observers believed that Obama genuinely intended to break new ground with his response—his campaign had never articulated any such policy before, and seemed ill-prepared to defend it on the spot. The Clinton campaign dutifully pressed the attack the next day, calling Obama’s statement “irresponsible and frankly naive.” But then a funny thing happened. Obama’s team did not try to qualify (or, in political parlance, “clarify”) his remark, and no one said he misspoke. Instead, the campaign fought back, with memos to reporters and with a speech by the candidate himself, aimed squarely at the sort of “conventional wisdom” that had, in the words of his then-foreign-policy adviser, Samantha Power, “led us into the worst strategic blunder in the history of U.S. foreign policy.”
Rationalize the gaffe - that's a firm foundation for foreign policy! However, by June 2008 when the Greatest Orator itHoFflubbed his lines on Jerusalem, his team's powers of rationalization were exhausted:
(Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama misused a "code word" in Middle East politics when he said Jerusalem should be Israel's "undivided" capital but that does not mean he is naive on foreign policy, a top adviser said on Tuesday.
Addressing a pro-Israel lobby group this month, the Democratic White House hopeful said: "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."
The comment angered Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967, as the capital of a future state. "He has closed all doors to peace," Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said after the June 4 speech.
Obama later said Palestinians and Israelis had to negotiate the status of the city, in line with long-held U.S. presidential policy.
If Obama weren't so self-evidently brilliant, people might actually judge him by his words and conclude that he has a pattern of bloviation guided by ignorance and arrogance.