The Great Conflator

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Michael Hirsch on Bush in the Palestinian territories:

Enough already. We've had a president who was the Great Emancipator. And another who was the Great Communicator. Bush is the Great Conflater. In his first term he conflated the threat from Al Qaeda with the threat from Saddam ("You can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror," Bush said in September 2002), and then tossed groups like Hizbullah and Hamas into the mix (though their goals were markedly different from Al Qaeda's). Now Bush is suggesting that all the problems he lumped in together can be solved by an equally lumpy panacea of freedom and democracy.

If hollow sloganeering were an adequate substitute for serious American leadership freedom would, of course, have been on the march long ago. On the specifics of the Palestinian issue, Bush's conflation of freedom, democracy, and self-determination are especially dangerous since he plainly has no intention of taking any of the steps that might actually lead to the creation of an independent Palestine as the main impact at this point is to simply re-enforce the idea that high-flying American rhetoric is just a mask for violence against Arabs.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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