Since he doesn't actually understand what he's talking about, he periodically says something ill-advised -- that he supports privatizing Social Security, that he'll balance the budget in four years, and so forth. Then his advisors walk him back.
This seems to fit the pattern. McCain says something stupid. advisers try to clarify. McCain looks like the bumbling flip-flopper that he is.
I still don't see how the danger of engagement with Iran is even close to on par with the Bush version of preemptive war. Granted, of course, that Bush's version is a perversion of what you rightly note is an inherent power (read: there's preemptive war, then there's Bush's preemtive war--two different things).
I'll ask the question plainly: how is the danger of talking with the Ayatollah (not Ahmadinejad, who is NOT the leader of Iran) on par or worse than Bush's version of preemptive war?
You have yet to detail what, exactly, you think Obama's position will lead to.
Furthermore, as pointed out downthread, there are always preconditions, and it is a matter of where one sets the bar. So, where do you set the bar? What kind of conditions do you think Obama should follow?
Simply because he is on the defensive over a given issue does not necessarily imply that he is being disingenuous in his support for direct talks.
In the absence of further evidence I'd say that the better explanation is that he truly does believe in direct talks.
After all, it seems to me that this gaffe was what he has wanted to say from the beginning but he has been more conservative on his foreign policy plans as he didn't want to give ammo to the "naive" meme. After he made his "gaffe" he--and his advisers--chose to come out swinging rather than play the came faux-centrist game as everyone else.
I don't see how this view is any less plausible than your 'he's being disingenuous' explanation.
In my view it is as foolish and radical as the " doctrine of preemption " , infact as dangerous as the doctrine of preemption is I would think it is a better choice as it can be more effectively used as a policy of deterrence.
This strikes me as hyperbole. You don't actually believe that speaking with the Ayatollah is worse than invading Iraq? Any conceivable scenario for the dangers of talking with Iran (what, nuclear war?) is not only implausable but would incredibly context-dependant.
In contrast preemptive war (which, unless I'm not understanding what you mean by that), in the Bush sense, is not really preemptive; it is virtually unjustified.
Finally, I don't understand what you mean by "even Richardson", as if Richardson is such a crazy, fringe policy guy. Similarly with Biden. Now, I respect Biden a good deal on foreign policy, and I am by no means a foreign policy expert, but I don't understand just what the danger is in talking to the Ayotollah. If anything, it would signal to Iranian reformers and moderates that the US isn't planning an attack (something used by the hardliners to keep everyone in check).
So, what exactly is the danger?Frankly, I don't see how you isolation argument plays out.
Turning a gaffe into a foreign policy position is not only dumb , it is dangerous.
That would only be true if the gaffe were in fact bad policy. I would argue it isn't, and, as such, this particular argument doesn't make sense. You disagree. That's fine. But then our disagreement is over the substance of the policy not the way in which it was conceived.
That said, first off, Yglesias claims that polling demonstrates that American's support Obama's position. That, of course, does not mean that it is necessarily good policy (I imagine that Sen. Clinton's gas tax was supported by many Americans--to continue your analogy--but it wasn't good policy). So, while that is important, it doesn't mean it is good policy.
So, let's try some serious policy people. I would argue that, as opposed to the gas tax, international affairs is far murkier than economics, at least in terms of the way conventional wisdom gels. So, your analogy, in this case, fails. There is no reason to suspect that the two most prevalent schools of policy and their conventional wisdom actually bear much resemblance to good policy. After all, it was their failings that led to this mess we're in now.
So, if we reject those schools, and, thus, their CW, we will have to make some new form of wisdom. First of all, Obama's policy is not to talk with everyone on god's green earth all the time. The question was on the leaders of the governments. In Iran's case that would be the Ayatollah.
It is the kind of "that's taboo" thinking regarding foreign policy. Namely, the idea that Iran is so terrifically evil that we musn't engage that is so indicitive of this failed foreign policy.
Lastly, even if you are correct that this is a terrible idea, you didn't address, the other portions of Sen. Obama's policy that fell out of this so-called gaffe. Namely, his pragmatism RE disarmament, prioritizing Afghanistan, etc. I would say that this singleminded focus (and I don't want to put words in your mouth, so...) among conservatives and some Clinton supporters on Iran as opposed to other aspects of Obama's policy positions demonstrates that they see what they want to see. After all, I think you'd be hard pressed to call his views on non-proliferation anything but good policy--at least coming from most lefty schools of thought.