While most of the sane world celebrated the past astonishing 18-days leading to 80-million Egyptian people crying for and winning their freedom peacefully, the wing nuttier side of the world just doubled down on the crazy at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington DC.
A group of conservative politicians only given credibility by television journalists from dog whistle FOX normally drags the rest of the MSM (Mainstream media) along for a ride on the crazy express. This year, thankfully, Egypt and its astonishing three weeks pushed CPAC to page 8 or 9 and with minimal broadcast coverage.
If only the rest of the MSM had the courage to do what Anderson Cooper did all this past week labelling the propaganda from the Mubarak regime as the blatant “lies” they were and… we had more of that in daily reporting inside the USA, a lot more might get done.
I am advocating the installation of a No-Spin button on every interviewer’s desk attached to an electronic shock device. Every time a Republican rolls out a Frank Luntz inspired phrase like “enhanced interrogation” or “enemy combatants” they get a shock increasing in power until the lies stop. And if the reporter fails to catch someone in their obvious bullshit , the viewers get to apply the same treatment to the host. So beware David Gregory of Meet the Press, we are talking about you and your softballs for letting them all wriggle knowingly away.
The RW attacked the Obama Administration for its handling of Egypt and while most agree the State Department dropped the ball early on, the Administration bucked the tide and supported the people in a time when most in the region and those on the right were demanding the US support the dictator Mubarak.
CPAC’s greatest hits reel
Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty delivered his harshest criticism yet of President Obama’s foreign policy, telling the president to “stop apologizing for our country.”
Former UN Secretary for President George W. Bush, John Bolton chimed in: “Obama has handled Egypt the same way he’s handled every other foreign policy crisis: he’s been inconsistent, confused, and just plain wrong.” He said the Administration is trying to decide whether the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is secular or not? “Its name is Muslim Brotherhood. Any clues there?”
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney: “I surely hope that at some point in the near future, the president will finally be able to construct a foreign policy, any foreign policy.”
And Newt Gingrich on This Week while criticising the President reflected back on a conversation with Reagan SecState George Shultz: “But Shultz was quite clear. Just as we had in Poland and in Czechoslovakia and in Hungary, the Reagan administration was adamantly in favour of freedom.”
The problem with the Gingrich revisionist sound bytes is it took Reagan several months to support Poland. Egypt fell in roughly a week from the time the President became involved and it took a lot of courage to do the right thing in this case.
All weekend long though CPAC members were in need of those electrical shockers as they deliberately and skilfully lied their way across the stage. The only voice for sanity on the Sunday programmes was Mona Eltahawy. She was there to keep them honest, speaking from experience as both a journalist and an Egyptian.
Let the lies keep rolling
The RW though won’t stop and already are spreading lies about the Muslim Brotherhood and their aims. Gingrich: “the Muslim Brotherhood will ultimately want the Interior Ministry and Education.” The RW’s goal is to continue to spread fear and lies because only the US can help Egypt build its democracy, not the people, because of our defence and security interests in the region.
They ignore the fact that neither the military nor secular society will let the party gain more than 15% of the seats in any vote because this is a secular uprising in a Muslim AND Coptic Christian country. Those facts don’t play well though on Sunday morning, at CPAC or in a 9-11 shocked and fearful Middle America always looking for the next bogeyman.
And the crazy was not limited to the US as Israel also weighed with a level of fearful rhetoric so high that NYT reporter Thomas Friedman was forced to call them out in a Jerusalem Post article for spreading fear: “The children of Egypt were having their liberation moment and the children of Israel decided to side with Pharaoh – right to the very end.” Later he added, “Natan Sharansky (cabinet member) is the one Israeli who got it right.” And Friedman attacked the Israeli cabinet calling them “out-of-touch, in-bred, unimaginative.”
So here’s the deal… everyone needs to just take a step back. Take a nice deep breath, put your fears back into the basket, know it will be messy and let the people of Egypt and the military (who much prefer a background role), have a few weeks to sort this out. How about we declare a unilateral punditocracy ban for 8-weeks on what the people of Egypt should or should not do until the people themselves have a chance to digest the enormous events of Friday night and the 18-preceding days. Every time an “expert” chimes in, change the channel or turn it off.” Let the people of Egypt bury their dead, find the missing and mourn the martyrs.
While a huge fan of Anderson Cooper and CNN’s coverage, watching the comical mad dash to be first to interview the ‘face’ of the revolution Wael Ghnonim, moments after the handover and hearing him reply, “look, we’ve not slept for 18-days, can we please just have this moment to celebrate before asking us what’s next?”, made me realise our profession still has a long way to go.
The whole scene reminded me of the one poor guy with a cameraman and microphone after the NFL Super Bowl time clock expires. He has one job, rush out to the winning quarterback and get him to say 5 or 6 times into camera “I’m going to Disney World!” Job done, the commercial airs minutes later “Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, you’ve just won Super Bowl LVX, what are you going to do next?”
“Wael Ghonim, you just participated in the liberation of 80-million people, what are you going to do next?”
Puhleeze, everybody… just take a deep breath.