Columnist Rips Obama and Media Over FDR, Truman 'Talked to Enemies' Claim

Though more easily comprehensible, the comical error (or is it what he truly thought?) in Barack Obama's "57 states" statement (HT Newsbusters' John Stephenson) is nothing compared to the dangerously wrong "history" he recited in his North Carolina Primary victory speech Tuesday night.

Friday, at Real Clear Politics, Jack Kelly recounted the Illinois Senator's egregious error, and its frightening implications (bolds are mine throughout):

Obama Needs a History Lesson

In his victory speech after the North Carolina primary, Sen. Barack Obama said something that is all the more remarkable for how little it has been remarked upon.

In defending his stated intent to meet with America's enemies without preconditions, Sen. Obama said: "I trust the American people to understand that it is not weakness, but wisdom to talk not just to our friends, but to our enemies, like Roosevelt did, and Kennedy did, and Truman did."

That he made this statement, and that it passed without comment by the journalists covering his speech indicates either breathtaking ignorance of history on the part of both, or deceit.

Then Kelly recited how wrong Obama was about Roosevelt and Truman:

FDR talked directly with none of them (our enemies) before the outbreak of hostilities, and his policy once war began was unconditional surrender.

..... Truman did not modify the policy of unconditional surrender.

..... Harry Truman also was president when North Korea invaded South Korea in June, 1950. President Truman's response was not to call up North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung for a chat. It was to send troops.

..... When Stalin's (post-World War II) designs became unmistakably clear, President Truman's response wasn't to seek a summit meeting. He sent military aid to Greece, ordered the Berlin airlift and the Marshall Plan, and sent troops to South Korea.

..... The closest historical analogue to Sen. Obama's expressed desire to meet with no preconditions with anti-American dictators such as Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the trip British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French premier Eduoard Daladier took to Munich in September of 1938 to negotiate "peace in our time" with Adolf Hitler. That didn't work out so well.

Kelly also quoted a historian who told of how John F. Kennedy's decision to meet with Kruschev enabled the Russian premier to evaluate him as someone "who would shrink from hard decisions. (Kruschev) came to believe that Americans are 'too liberal to fight.'" He also quoted journalistic icon James Reston of the New York Times, who once wrote that "when Kennedy was rash enough to strike at Cuba but not bold enough to finish the job, Khrushchev decided he was dealing with an inexperienced young leader who could be intimidated and blackmailed."

Kelly's wrap:

The lack of historical knowledge among journalists is merely appalling. But in a presidential candidate it's dangerous. As Sir Winston Churchill said:

"Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Is the Obama campaign going to pass off their candidate's misguided rendition of history as yet another error resulting from being "tired"? Will Old Media journalists covering him let it slide? Or is Kelly's suspicion that most of them didn't even recognize Obama's error correct?

Cross-posted at

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