President Barack Obama would like to do some things for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and President-elect Vladimir Putin that he does not want American voters to know about before they decide whether to re-elect him in November.
That was the intended-to-be-secret message Obama gave Medvedev in South Korea on Monday. But Obama was caught delivering the message on tape -- and, no matter how the liberal media try to spin it, the moment is destined to become emblematic of Obama as a man and as a president.
"On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved. But it's important for him to give me space,'' Obama told Medvedev -- the "him" being Putin.
"Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space," said Medvedev. "Space for you --"
"'This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility," said Obama.
"Yeah. Yeah. I understand," said Medvedev. "I will transmit this information to Vladimir. I understand."
A little context is needed here.
The last time Obama ran for president, the incumbent, George W. Bush, was advancing a plan to place a ballistic missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland. The system would include a radar system in the Czech Republic and 10 advanced interceptor missiles in Poland. The Bush administration intended the system to give the United States the ability to knock down missiles Iran might fire at U.S. allies and U.S. forces in Europe.
Obama, ever mindful of voters -- including those of Eastern European ancestry -- clinging to their guns, their religion, and their belief that defending yourself and your friends against a missile attack is morally superior to launching a missile attack, was wary of flat-out opposing a defense against Iranian missiles.
On June 16, 2007, when the president of the Poland visited the United States, Obama sounded a mildly hawkish note.
"Since joining NATO in 1997," Obama said, "Poland has become one of America's most important strategic partners, dedicating troops and resources to our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"We now have an opportunity to build on this long and deep relationship," Obama continued. "Here is how we can. ... The Bush administration has been developing plans to deploy interceptors and radar systems in Poland and the Czech Republic as part of a missile defense system designed to protect against the potential threat of Iranian nuclear armed missiles. If we can responsibly deploy missile defenses that would protect us and our allies we should, but only when the system works."