Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tom In Paine: Obama plays domestic politics with Egypt and it backfires.

Tom In Paine: Obama plays domestic politics with Egypt and it backfires.

An article in Sunday's New York Times is recounting how Obama was "furious" about mixed messages  coming out of the State Department over the revolution in Egypt as it occurred. This "leak" to the media trying to paint Obama as something that he isn't and wasn't, which is a decisive leader who wanted the administration message to be firmly on the side of the protestors but was undermined by his own State Department is Obama, not at his worst since he has been far more duplicitous, dishonest and deceitful about more important issues like healthcare, but perhaps at his most petty.


Leaks like this do not happen by accident. Obama wanted the story to get out now that any seeming support of Mubarak during the revolt leading up to his resignation was not his idea and that he was always firmly on the side of the protestors demands that Mubarak leave.

The outright lie of that position could be read right here, when, in an article called " Egypt: Why Obama Should Just Shut Up", at the height of the revolt, I commented how Obama's statements were not only contradictory but virtually empty, one minute seeming to side with the demonstrators, the next with Mubarak and not having any clear idea which way to go. I commented at the time that this was the result of who Obama is -- someone with no convictions and no principles, something he has demonstrated his entire political life on almost every issue in which he played a part.

Ostensibly no one was twisting his arm or putting words in his mouth when he made such empty, vague and/or contradictory statements. His statement about how "transition" must happen "now" said nothing about what that transition was to be. Presumably if he meant it he had the capacity to say that Mubarak should step down. But he never did. Now according to the information "leaked" to the New York Times by nameless Obama sycophants in the White House to their sycophantic partners at the Times, we are supposed to believe that Obama supported the protestors all along and that he was "furious" and "unhappy" with statements from Biden, and especially Frank Wisner, his envoy to Cairo who made statements to the effect that Mubarak was "indispensable to any transition" and was echoed by Hillary Clinton who stated that transition would take time, while Obama was saying things should happen "now".

Except Obama never said in any statement what form the transition should take "now", and it seemed at the time that when Obama made his statement, which came after a degree of power was given to Egypt's vice president and parliament had been disbanded that some kind of a transition had taken place. The problem was that wasn't good enough for the demonstrators who demanded Mubarak resign and never once did Obama publicly take that position. Now we are supposed to believe that he took that position privately all along.

This is Obama simply trying to save face, trying to claim this is what he meant and wanted all along even though his public statements were to the contrary. He is trying to save face because during the height of the revolt when he was clearly trying to play both ends against the middle, unsure of the outcome and wanting to be sure he was on the winning side, his responses were tepid, lukewarm or empty and contradictory, the product of a president with no real convictions or principles to guide him, and many people were saying that when all was said and done and Mubarak was replaced Obama would be regarded as having been on the wrong side of history especially by the Egyptians themselves who finally forced Mubarak out.

Now Obama is trying to rewrite history by having it "leaked" that somehow the mixed messages coming out the White House were not his fault and not his doing, that they were the result of the Vice President, Special envoy to Cairo, the Secretary of State and others in the State Department just wandering off on their own making uncoordinated statements regarding policy in the midst of the biggest revolution ever seen in the middle east.

If you believe that, you must have supported Obama for the Democratic nomination while buying pieces of the Brooklyn Bridge Obama sold you ( as for the general election no Republican was going to get elected after 8 years of Bush).

Obama was on the wrong side of history in not supporting the demonstrators unequivocally and trying to figure out a way to persuade Mubarak to leave ( like offering him any number of face saving alternatives). In the end Mubarak cut off communication with Obama who he clearly found useless, and the demonstrators, who found Obama equally useless, finally accomplished their goal.

The New York Times reporters, perhaps channeling Judith Miller, were showing their bias and unreliability by claiming that "Obama was caught between his idealism and pragmatism": And what idealism was that?  His idealism that caused him to sell out the public option to healthcare lobbyists in a backroom deal? His idealism that made speeches about how "every voice must be heard" while doing everything he could during the Democratic primary to silence the voices of almost 2 million voters in Florida and Michigan because they voted against him? The idealism that, while Iranian demonstrators were being shot in the street by Ahamdinejad he took the position that he " didn't want to meddle"?

What has become ironic as well as amusing is that Obama's attempt to rewrite history has backfired. His "leak" that he supported the demonstrators demands all along that the transition be swift has put him in a very awkward position. Because the Egyptian military has just announced that it is rejecting the demands of protestors for a swift transfer of power and immediate elections and will rule by decree and martial law until elections are held in September when power will be transferred to a civilian authority. In other words they have decided on a gradual transition not a swift one. The gradual one advocated by Biden, Frank Wisner and Hillary Clinton.

So now we will see how "furious" Obama gets with the Egyptian military, we will see what statements he makes demanding that the transfer of power happen "now", that elections happen "now", and we will see what statements Obama makes rejecting the military ruling by decree until elections are held in September.

 Just dont hold your breath waiting. Obama is probably now in his chair in the Oval Office, contemplating the decision by the military after his "leak" ran on the front page of Sunday's New York Times, and he is muttering,"shit".

Obama is now caught in a web of his own deceit because of his efforts to try and make himself look good, trying to shift the blame from himself and his own lack of principles and leadership to others and trying  to pretend a "swift transition" was what he was pushing for all along. But now ironically, it is the judgement of others that Obama was trashing to the New York Times just two days ago,  that has become and will be the reality in Egypt not the "swift transition" Obama was trying to claim was his desire all along. And along with it, we also see how the New York Times,still acting as Obama sycophants,has been  transformed from the "paper of record" to a broken record.
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