As the events unfolded on the streets of Cairo this weekend I tried to predict how the Right would blame this one on Obama. I assumed (yeah, yeah, I know what happens when you assume) they would point to Obama’s June, 2009 speech in Cairo. You remember that one don’t you? It was the one where he confirmed that he was raised in a madras and was in effect a Muslim version of the Manchurian Candidate. At least that’s how I heard it described on the Excellence In Broadcasting network.
But then Sen. Jon Kyl, the second ranking Republican in the United States Senate took a different tack. Despite the fact that Obama’s speech encouraged the will of the people, he blamed Obama for not supporting freedom. He claimed that Obama failed to follow in George W. Bush’s footsteps promoting freedom in the Middle East.
That’s funny. I looked through my files and couldn’t find where Bush promoted the will of the people in Egypt. If anything we continued the policy of previous administrations, both Democrat and Republican, to prop up Mubarak’s regime. In fact, during a 2008 trip to Egypt, Bush praised President Mubarak for his leadership in “the freedom and justice movement” and declared that the United States’ friendship with Egypt was “one of the main cornerstones of our policy in this region, and it’s based on our shared commitment to peace, security and prosperity.”
Obama is being perfectly dissected on this one. The rush jobs on right-wing radio are hectoring him for encouraging the unwashed masses by promoting Egyptian democracy during his Cairo speech. Meanwhile the “level heads” in Congress like Jon Kyl are saying he is not doing enough to support the protestors. In other words, nothing he can do is right.
It is absurd for Kyl to imply that until Obama, American policy had been to promote freedom for the Egyptian people at the expense of our strong ally Hosni Mubarak. Throughout history American policy has been to promote leaders who will support our interests even if it goes against the will of the people. (See Shah, Iran.) During the Bush years Mubarak was an important cog in the war against terrorism since we could send terrorism suspects there where they could be aggressively interrogated. I’m not ripping Bush for doing so, that’s just the way it is.
For Sen. Kyl to now speak out against Obama for not supporting Egyptian freedom, while implying that Bush had, is rather disingenuous. Kyl furthers his deceptive comments by saying he is not speaking as a ranking Republican member of the Senate but as an American. Oh please. As my Uncle Merle used to say, don’t piss in my corn flakes and tell me it’s oatmeal.
Traditionally American politicians do not launch bipartisan attacks on the President during a foreign crisis. But it is obvious that in the current climate all bets are off.