First of all, the president is smart to engage the Middle East and the Muslim world in general, because there is no question that anti-American feeling among the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world is a major problem for the United States. Obviously, it is necessary to deal with that problem.
Now, I believe most Muslims are good people, but they are afraid, fearful of fanatics in their own religion. This is especially true in poor countries like Pakistan and Yemen, where the rule of law has broken down.
Because his father was a Muslim, President Obama is seen in a more favorable light than most American politicians, and he has a chance to improve the American-Muslim relations, but he must be very careful.
If the president once again criticizes America in his speech Thursday, that will be a disaster. It will show weakness to a culture that despises such. The president must be authoritative and precise. He has to tell the Muslim world that the United States is a noble country that doesn't mean them any harm.
But the president must also realize what Michael Corleone famously said on screen:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE GODFATHER, PART II")
MICHAEL CORLEONE: My father taught me many things here. He taught me in this room. He taught me keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Many in the Muslim world are hostile to the United States, and President Obama is not going to change that. What he can do is neutralize it by understanding what the enemy is up to — that is keeping your enemies close.
"Talking Points" well understands that this is no easy speech the president will deliver in Cairo Thursday. His opponents in America are waiting for him to show any sign of weakness. His opponents abroad are waiting for him to criticize them. So the president is in a tough spot.
But he is right to make the play. The only solution to the America-Muslim problem is persuasion. We can't kill all of our enemies. If we persuade enough of them to stop hostilities, we can defeat the remaining fanatics.
And that's "The Memo."
Pinheads & Patriots
On Wednesday in the New York Post on page 8 there was a spirited defense of me — by me. I want to thank the Post and Editor Col Allen for giving me the opportunity to fight the good fight on this Dr. Tiller situation.
That column is available on the New York Post Web site and BillOReilly.com, and you'll be seeing it in hundreds of other newspapers across the country as well. Mr. Allen is a patriot for getting the ball rolling.
On the pinhead front, our pal Congressman John Murtha got a little testy when asked about his ties to a defense contractor now being investigated for fraud. Apparently the congressman has helped the Kuchera Defense operation win $50 million in Pentagon contracts:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think you've been too strong in your support with them over the years?
REP. JOHN MURTHA, D-PENN.: Wait a minute. What do you think? I'm supposed to oversee these companies? That's the Defense Department's job. That's not my job. You guys write these stories, and you don't have a clue what this is all about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just asking the questions. I'm also asking have you hired a lawyer?
MURTHA: What kind of a question is that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
MURTHA: You've got all these questions written down, do you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Congressman Murtha continues to be a pinhead, but we could be wrong.