IN OTHER WORDS: Cheap shot

President Bush’s penchant for slash-and-burn politics, learned at the feet of Karl Rove and the late Lee Atwater, is unseemly when practiced at home. It is shameful for the president and damaging for the country when put on display abroad. So it was especially distressing to hear Bush’s barely veiled attack against Senator Obama in front of Israel’s Parliament. In a speech honouring Israel’s 60th anniversary, Bush likened those who call for talks with “terrorists and radicals” to those who appeased the Nazis.

When Obama and other Democrats objected, the White House press secretary, Dana Perino, insisted the president’s remarks had nothing to do with Obama and suggested that the Democratic senator was being narcissistic. Diplomacy is simply good sense. There is no guarantee that it will change anyone’s mind. But Bush’s refusal to talk has made it far easier for North Korea to churn out plutonium, Iran to meddle in Iraq and indulge its nuclear appetites and Syria and Iran to back Hamas and Hezbollah.

Those failed policies are one reason we yearn for the coming change of administration and for the next president to reject Bush’s bullheadedness. We also yearn for a more civilized and respectful dialogue. That is essential for a democracy. It is also essential for regaining the world’s respect.