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What message would a President Obama send to the Hamas Palestinian terrorists who now control Gaza and are lobbing missiles into Israeli territory, seeking its complete destruction? What moral authority in the war on terrorism would Mr. Obama have left if he were seen sitting down with a lunatic like Mr. Ahmadinejad in the naive belief Mr. Ahmadinejad can be persuaded to abandon his terrorist designs on his neighbors?

If this does not raise profound doubts about Mr. Obama’s judgment on national security issues, listen to the specious, mixed-up arguments he and other Democrats come up with to defend his blame-America-first policies. Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, for one, maintained Mr. Bush has negotiated with rogue leaders like North Korea and Libya — so what’s the big deal?

But Mr. Bush never rewarded these leaders with prestigious presidential summits. He dealt with them through envoys — in the case of North Korea, with representatives from Russia, Japan, China, South Korea and the United States.

This week Mr. Obama deployed a twisted logic worthy of the fulminations of his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. He said Mr. Bush’s policies in Iraq were responsible for Iran becoming a powerful, threatening nation in the Middle East. Come again? Its fanatic leadership had little or nothing to do with its destabilizing actions in the region?

In March 2000, long before the war in Iraq, Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, said: “Through the years, this grim view [of Iran] is reinforced by the Iranian government’s repression at home and its support for terrorism abroad; [and] by its assistance to groups violently opposed to the Middle East peace process.”

Weakness on defense and national security issues has long been one of the Democrats’ strategic failures in presidential elections, but rarely has its front-runner had numbers this weak.

When only one-third of America’s voters say they trust Barack Obama to handle the war on terrorism to keep us safe, and only 18 percent think he has the experience to be president, the Democrats are in deep trouble.

Donald Lambro, chief political correspondent of The Washington Times, is a nationally syndicated columnist.