Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Carterizing Obama

John McCain, who relaxed during last year's campaign by improvising a "Bomb Iran" ditty, is back to lead a Republican chorus taunting Barack Obama as another Jimmy Carter.

The tune is familiar, but the words are all wrong. Three decades ago, Carter dealt with a vulnerable revolution in Iran by fumbling every move from allowing the deposed Shah into the US to watching American Embassy hostages in Tehran paraded on TV for 444 days with time out for a lethally inept rescue attempt.

Now, as Roger Cohen writes from Tehran, "Iran’s 1979 revolution took a full year to gestate. The uprising of 2009 has now ended its first phase. But the volatility ushered in by the June 12 ballot-box putsch of Iran’s New Right is certain to endure over the coming year. The Islamic Republic has been weakened."

Unlike Carter, who tried to placate and then was overwhelmed by forces he could not control, Obama has been firm and statesmanlike in denouncing tyranny in Iran without be seen as pouring gasoline on the fire in the streets, reiterating that "the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is not interfering with Iran's affairs.

"But we must also bear witness to the courage and the dignity of the Iranian people, and to a remarkable opening within Iranian society. And we deplore the violence against innocent civilians anywhere that it takes place."

The images of Neda Agha Soltan, the young woman killed in the street protests, will endure as witness to a brutal regime but by themselves will not bring it down any more than the 1970 Kent State killings of four students unseated Richard Nixon back then. Yet four years later he was gone.

As a student of history, Obama understands the difference between an historical process and red-meat rhetoric, even if McCain and his GOP pygmy imitators don’t. To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, those of us who knew Jimmy Carter in his prime can testify that Barack Obama is no Jimmy Carter.

Not even close.

5 comments:

Eduardo said...

Like many on the left, your naivete about the nature of human evil is reflected by thinking the mullah's are making a serious tactical mistake in killing protestors. Wrong! That's exactly what totalitarian regimes do to stay in power.

Human Rights without Power is Meaningless. History shows this over and over again. It is why I'm always in favor of our president, the leader of the free world, coming out strong against totalitarian dictatorships. While Obama was offering tepid responses and offering respect for Iran's sovereignty last week Mullah Khamenei was leading crowds with chants of " Death to America " and blaming their crisis on the US and Israel. Listen to their speech!

I believe Senator's McCain and Graham are correct. Strong condemnation from the beginning was appropriate. Yesterday was the time for our president to lead the free world in protest, push for sanctions, etc. This would have put enormous pressure on the regime and shown the Iranian people we're serious about defending liberty. Being nice to these totalitarians is not going to get them to stop building Nukes or shooting people! That's a delusion of the first order.

This is a regime that is the number one sponsor of terrorism in the world, that has been directly involved in the killing of our troops. A regime that brutally suppresses its own people, and has publicly stated it wants to destroy Israel. Have people forgotten that the europeans have been negotiating with Iran to stop their nuke program for years? Once nukes are in their hands it will be a very dangerous situation.

I don't think we have to play nice nice with them. The President's strong condemnation yesterday earns him political points but is entirely too late and ineffective.

John said...

The "right" sure showed those Iranian "death to America" buggers a thing or two back in the Eighties, like selling them them weapons to fund the Contras and all. There's an American spine, by golly.

Where's Ollie North when we need him?

eduardo said...

You start this post by cynically writing that Senator McCain has joined the chorus and started " taunting " President Obama.

I just watched the the Senator's five minute speech that you linked to following your comment. It's pretty amazing to watch because Senator McCain did not come remotely close to " taunting " the president. He was solemn and dignified in paying paying tribute to Neda. And in the course of his speech he called on and asked what many of us are wondering: Why hasn't our president, until yesterday, not come out and strongly denounced the fraudulant elections and abuse of the opposition?

Is this a case where you report and comment on what you want to see? Or is this just another opportunity to bash people you don't like? I'd like others to see the McCain speech and comment. Whether you agree with McCain or not your portrayal of him taunting Obama is untrue.

Why the cheap shots?

Yellow Dog Don said...

Why has President Obama not come out and condemned the election process in Minnesota?

Why has the left not protested in the streets to seat Senator Franken?

Why did we allow the SCOTUS to appoint George POTUS?

We have our own election issues to worry about.

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Eduardo: "Why the cheap shots?"

You want cheap shots? I'll give you a cheap shot. During last year's election cycle, didn't John McCain make some misplaced joke about "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran?" Suddenly John McCain styles himself as Great Defender of the rights of Iranians, the same Iranians whom last year he wanted to "Bomb, bomb, bomb, and bomb, bomb again."

Last year, Obama went to Berlin where he delivered a speech to a throng of over 200,000 people. Unwilling to let Obama steal headlines out from under him, McCain made some grumpy, sour grapes statement from a German pub somewhere in Ohio. Lame!

Most foreign policy experts even among Republicans (Kissinger, Armitage, Senator Lugar) and a good many conservative columnists (George Will, Pat Buchanan, and Peggy Noonan) consider Obama's handling of Iran to be balanced, cautious, and correct.

McCain's criticism of Obama is not about what is best for Iranians or American foreign policy. It is about what is best for a headline grabber like John McCain, a political hack and opportunist.

How is that for a cheap shot.