- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Islamic Republican?

With the biggest news of the past week being the disputed elections in Iran, it’s perhaps natural that Americans would try to understand the politics in Americanized terms — “conservative,” “liberal” and the like. But the casting calls by liberal bloggers went way beyond that.

Didn’t you realize that the mullahs are simply taking a page from George W. Bush in 2000?

“I don’t know what to say. Isn’t rioting in the streets the appropriate reaction when your country is taken over through election fraud? What’s the alternative, to reward theft? We’ve already seen what that did here!” said Susie Madrak of Crooks and Liars.

Or did you know that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could have been Mr. Bush these past eight years?

“Ahmadinejad’s bag of tricks is eerily like that of Karl Rove — the constant use of fear, the exploitation of religion, the demonization of liberals, the deployment of Potemkin symbolism like Sarah Palin,” wrote Andrew Sullivan at his self-named Atlantic blog.

Or did you know that the entire Islamic Republic is just a differently flavored version of the conservative Christian religious base that took over the Republican Party? The headline on a Frank Schaeffer article at the Huffington Post said “The Real Lesson Of Iran” was to “Beware America’s Republican Mullahs.”

“Yet if the Republican/Religious Right/Neoconservative agenda had come to full fruition over the last 35 years the Republicans would have plunged America into our own version of the misbegotten theocracy destroying Iran today. I know. As a former Religious Right leader I worked to make America ‘safe’ for ‘Christian values’ and dangerous to everyone else. Thankfully I, and those like me, failed. Had we succeeded America would be another version of Iran.”

Matthew Yglesias wrote at the American Prospect that “Ahmadinejad is in most ways a classic right-winger, a demagogic nationalist and cultural conservative. In a manner somewhat reminiscent of a Sarah Palin, however, he clothes this right-wing politics in a language of class resentment, painting his more pragmatic and reformist opponents as decadent elites out of touch with ordinary people. Unlike the populists of the American right, however, he merges this rhetoric with something resembling an actual populist economic agenda.”

Hip-madinejad?

Liberal bloggers weren’t always so down on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as Jim Geraghty reminded us last week.

Before going on to note the ultimate insult (a comparison to Sarah Palin), Mr. Geraghty asked “Guess Who Said, ‘Ahmadinejad has a pretty sweet hipster style’?” at his National Review blog, the Campaign Spot.

“Answer: Matt Yglesias, back on Sept. 21, 2006:

“I keep talking about this with people in real life, but it deserves a blog mention as well — Mahmoun [sic] Ahmadinejad has a pretty sweet hipster style. It all starts with a beard not unlike the one I and many of my twentysomething male friends sport. But it goes deeper. The man went without a tie to address the UN General Assembly. And I was in a bar where the TV was showing his interview with Anderson Cooper (it’s DC, these things happen) and while there was no sound, he certainly looked witty and charming. There was also this clip of him walking down some hallway shooting the [expletive] with Kofi Annan. It’s like diplomacy! Bush should try it.”

Outfoxed?

President Obama has more in common with former President Bill Clinton than giving a plum administration post to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

At least two prominent conservative bloggers seized on a comment Mr. Obama made about hostile press coverage and noted some of the same personality in the two men’s reaction. The question was from a CNBC interview with John Harwood, who asked Mr. Obama whether the “favorable press” he’s been getting was “hurting the country because you’re not sufficiently being held accountable for your policies.”

“It’s very hard for me to swallow that one. First of all, I’ve got one television station that is entirely devoted to attacking my administration,” Mr. Obama said, before the questioner interrupted him to identify that he was talking about the Fox News Channel. “Well, that’s a pretty big megaphone and you’d be hard-pressed if you watched the entire day to find a positive story about me on that front.”

B. Daniel Blatt, one of the co-bloggers at Gay Patriot recounted an anecdote about Mr. Clinton, which he attributed to the former president’s mother.

“If Bill Clinton entered a room with one hundred people, ninety-nine of them loving him, but one opposed to him, he would spend his entire time trying to persuade that one to like him, to appreciate his qualities and recognize his accomplishments … Instead of acknowledging the favorable press he has received, the president dwelt on the one news network which probably offers the most balanced coverage of his Administration, featuring critics as well as supporters of his policies and proposals,” wrote Mr. Blatt, whose nom de blog is “Gay Patriot West.”

Peter Wehner at the Commentary blog Contentions was more pointed. “This exchange … demonstrates that Obama — who is (literally) compared to God by some journalists, who sends a thrill up the leg of others, and who causes reporters and editors to weep and choke up with emotion in simply thinking about The One — apparently believes he deserves worshipful coverage across the board; when he doesn’t receive it, he views it as a grave injustice. It warrants a stronger response from him than, say, the repression of freedom in Iran,” he wrote.

Nor were conservatives alone.

George Stephanopoulos, a communications director for Mr. Clinton’s White House, had the following to say on ABC’s “This Week” program Sunday. “I’ve always been struck by how — and it’s not too strong a word — how obsessed the president and the White House are with Fox News.”

Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com.