Why Pres. Bush Did Not Name Sen. Borah

In his much-discussed speech at the Knesset yesterday, Pres. Bush said the following:

Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

An American senator? What American senator?

Democrats are fuming. This quote set them off at least once before, in 2006, when Rumsfeld used it in a speech.

The curious thing, to me, is that neither he nor Bush named the Senator. The quote comes from a Progressive, isolationist Republican, William E. Borah of Idaho. Who may well have said it, conversationally, but not on the record. As far as I can tell it is attributed to him first in a biography published 20 years after his death.

I should add that it is curious that so many media outlets reporting the story (such as the AP, linked above, Reuters, or CNN) don’t bother to track down the source of the quote. But the uncuriosity of the media is universal now and no longer seems curious to me.

Indeed. But it’s Vernon’s “curious thing” that I was most struck by, because when I read that part of Bush’s speech, I too found it very interesting that he used the formulation “an American senator” instead of “Sen. William Borah of Idaho.” But I am not puzzled by it. I know exactly why he did not refer to Borah by name. He did not refer to Borah by name because the quote was intended to suggest that Sen. Barack Obama supports negotiating with Hitler — given that the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah, and Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are the 21st century moral equivalents of a man and a regime responsible for murdering two-thirds of the European Jewish population (one-third of the world Jewish population).

If Bush had said, “As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, Sen. William Borah of Idaho declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided,'” that intended suggestion would have been lost.

And I, for one, certainly appreciate the connecting line Pres. Bush has drawn between guerrilla warfare and a system of industrialized genocide so efficient and so effective that in just one European country — Poland — over 90% (some sources say 99%) of the pre-WWII Jewish population was exterminated.

If 99% of the Iranian population, and two-thirds of the Arab population in the Middle East, are being exterminated by the Ahmadinejad/Hamas/Hezbollah triumvirate, I want to know about it.

4 Responses to “Why Pres. Bush Did Not Name Sen. Borah”

  1. Callimachus says:

    “I know exactly why he did not refer to Borah by name. He did not refer to Borah by name because the quote was intended to suggest that Sen. Barack Obama supports negotiating with Hitler ….”

    That’s possible, but if you read the Rumsfeld speech, he used pretty similar language and also did not name Borah. And Obama wasn’t in the picture then. The intent may have been to draw attention away from specifics of the past (if so, it worked, thanks to the media), but if so, it wasn’t invented for this occasion.

  2. Kathy says:

    True, but Rumsfeld could have had similar reasons for not mentioning Borah — i.e., wanting to implicate present-day Democratic leadership rather than make an historical reference. And regardless of Rumsfeld’s motives for not mentioning Borah by name, Pres. Bush’s motives could still have been what I speculated (or not, but the earlier reference by Rumsfeld does not really bear on Bush’s motives).

  3. Bush Family History: Did the Bush family help Hitler? Click the link below, read the article and then decide.

    http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/051908M.shtml

    C.E. Robin

  4. William E Borah was born a Jew. The Baroh’s in Seattle Spell it a nother way. Are they cousin’s.
    Isaac Baroh went to Idaho in 1916 or1917 from Seattle, Washington.They were from the Island of Mamara, in Turkey.
    It sounds like the Bush Family didn;t like Jew;s.
    I was in World War 11, in the Pacific. I was on the C K Bronson, we had picked up out of water,
    Bush’s father that was shot down some where in the Battle of Lettey Gulf, around Luzon.
    Bronfeld he was German, of course he did not like Jew’s
    Samuel J Israel
    9739 46th Avenue N.E
    Seattle, Washington 98115
    206 5253126

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