Fretting Over Bush's Criticism of "Appeasement" in Israel Speech

Reporters Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jim Rutenberg fretted Friday over Bush's "controversial" speech to the IsraeliKnesset in "Bush Assails 'Appeasement," Touching Off Storm," a perceived attack on Barack Obama.

President Bush used a speech to the Israeli Parliament on Thursday to liken those who would negotiate with "terrorists and radicals" to appeasers of the Nazis - a remark widely interpreted as a rebuke to Senator Barack Obama, who has advocated greater engagement with countries like Iran and Syria.

Mr. Bush did not mention Mr. Obama by name, and White House officials said he was not taking aim at the senator, though they were aware the speech might be interpreted that way.

The comments created an angry tussle back home, as Democrats accused Mr. Bush of breaching protocol by playing partisan politics overseas.

Al Gore and Jimmy Carter had no comment.

After allowing no less thanfive Democrats (including Obama) to excoriate Bush, and briefly noting that a Hamas official has endorsed Obama's candidacy, the Times pushed the president's comments as "controversial," complete with scare quotes.

Thursday was not the first time the term "appeasement" has cropped up in the Bush administration lexicon. In 2006, in advance of the midterm elections, Vice President Dick Cheney and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld invoked the analogy as a line of attack against critics of the war in Iraq. Then, as now, it was controversial.