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Steve Likes to Curse
Writing, comics and random thoughts from really a rather vulgar man
Right-wing blowhards and Iranian theocrats have more in common than they realize 
Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009 | 02:09 pm [barack obama, commentary, news, politics]

In his column this week for Slate.com, Christopher Hitchens describes the paranoia that warps the perspectives of the radical Mullahs who rule Iran, and who have spent most of the last two weeks insisting that the recent landslide reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which sent hundreds of thousands of protestors into the streets of Tehran, was on the up-and-up.


Hitchens writes


There is nothing at all that any Western country can do to avoid the charge of intervening in Iran’s internal affairs. The deep belief that everything — especially anything in English — is already and by definition an intervention is part of the very identity and ideology of the theocracy.


After generations of British imperialism, says Hitchens, the ayatollahs and much of the Iranian public are apt to blame any misfortune that befalls their nation on a vast Anglo conspiracy. It’s chilling to think that the government of Iran, with its army and, perhaps soon, its nuclear arsenal, is controlled by the Persian equivalent of the 9/11 Truth Movement. But that’s not the only parallel that jumped out at me from Hitchens’s article.


It also immediately brought to mind the criticism of President Obama’s response to the Iranian protests by the likes of Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Mark Levin — all three richly deserving of immortalization on the face of Asshole Mount Rushmore. “What happened to the spirit of Ronald Reagan?” Levin demanded shrilly on his show last night. “What happened to ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall’?” Hannity’s anti-Obama diatribes, because he never says anything someone else hasn’t said already, have sounded much the same.


Conservative mouthpieces like Hannity, Levin, Beck, not to mention the Supreme Leader himself, Rush Limbaugh (who’s been on vacation for this) are generally critical of Obama, so their reaction to his handling of the Iran situation doesn’t surprise me. What struck me about the above Hitchens quote, though, was that phrase “by definition.” Does anyone honestly believe that conservative talk radio would be showering the president with praise and glowing comparisons to Reagan’s Berlin Wall speech had Obama been more openly supportive of the would-be reformers in Iran? Would any of them even offer the president a grudging pat on the back in that case? I don’t think so.


I’m not saying that serious, considered, rational criticism of Barack Obama is impossible or inappropriate on this issue (Hitchens manages it very well elsewhere in his article); I’m saying that the criticisms of Obama’s careful handling of the Iran situation from right-wing water-boys like Hannity and Levin aren’t based on honest, rational consideration. No matter what Obama’s reaction had been, he’d be taking shit for it from this lot. It’s become a pillar of their ideology. They oppose him on principle. They oppose him by definition.


Hannity likes to describe the liberal-leaning media and the president himself as suffering from “Bush derangement syndrome,” reflexively blaming our current economic and international troubles on the inept presidency of George W. Bush. But aren’t he and his colleagues in the field of conservative punditry just as infected by Obama derangement syndrome? From their wild overreaction to Obama’s measured attitude toward Iran, I’d say their affliction is a lot more serious.

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009 | 12:44 pm (UTC)
Funny. I read the Hitchens article yesterday, and I immediately wondered what good ole' Steve would think about it. I thought I'ld take a quick peak at your blog this morning, and low and behold....your newest post was right on it.

Of course Hannity and the likes are going to run with it when Obama effs up. Ok, so they're overreacting, no surprise, but even Hitchen's can't make sense of Obama's "careful handling" and "measured attitude," and that really does say something. Constructive criticism or overreaction...it doesn't really matter so long as there's a valid point.

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009 | 02:03 pm (UTC)
I don't agree with you there. Valid criticism of the president is a necessity, and Hitchens does that very well in his article when he says,

Want to take a noninterventionist position? All right, then, take a noninterventionist position. This would mean not referring to Khamenei in fawning tones as the supreme leader and not calling Iran itself by the tyrannical title of "the Islamic republic." But be aware that nothing will stop the theocrats from slandering you for interfering anyway. Also try to bear in mind that one day you will have to face the young Iranian democrats who risked their all in the battle and explain to them just what you were doing when they were being beaten and gassed.

I think that's right on. It's not only a good argument, it shows that Hitchens actually knows the issue and is making a reasoned and informed point. All I've heard from Hannity and his ilk is "Obama's an appeaser!" or "Obama's just like Bill Ayers," however that's supposed to be relevant.

And as I said, the criticism of Obama by these guys is reflexive, just like the criticism of the west by the Mullahs that rule Iran. Hannity would be giving him shit no matter what he did. I can hear it now. If Obama had boldly traveled to the Middle East and given a speech demanding that the Iranian government throw out the phony election and hold another one on the up-and-up to satisfy the people, Hannity and Levin would be shaking their heads and sneering, "Who does this guy think he is — Ronald Reagan? Well let me tell you, he's no Ronald Reagan!"

See the difference between that and what Hitchens does? That's why Hitchens is a brilliant writer and critic, and Hannity and most of his colleagues on talk radio are dishonest clowns.
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