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What if Obama said he was “royally cheesed off” about Iran

What if Obama said he was “royally cheesed off” about Iran

The adjective-by-adjective coverage of Pres. Obama’s statements on Iran is getting pretty silly. Every major news organization reported and analyzed the words he used at his press conference yesterday. The Wash Post lede this morning said he had”abandoned the restrained tone” previous days and read a statement “loaded with diplomatically charged words: ‘appalled’ and ‘outraged,’ ‘condemn’ and ‘deplore.'”

The cable news stations staged arguments between designated Republican analysts who repeated the talking point that Obama’s reactions have been “weak,” and designated Dems who find his statements “measured.” Major Garrett of Fox News was recognized for a question at the presser and asked: 

“Right here, sir. In your opening remarks, sir, you were — you said about Iran that you were ‘appalled’ and ‘outraged.’ What took you so long to say those words?”

Obama replied that his statements had been “entirely consistent” from the beginning.

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I actually think he has been fairly consistent, although I don’t doubt that White House Message Central knew exactly what it was doing when it loaded up Obama’s opening statement with stronger adjectives and verbs — namely responding to the already silly complaints that his previous word choices had shown weakness (and then, for obvious reasons, denying any such intent).

Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t see the Iranian ayatollahs cowering under the barrage of new adjectives. I suspect they would have been glad to have Obama go further so they could denounce interference from the Great Satan America. (How’s this for choice: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei yesterday denounced “bullying.”)

I’m also reasonably confident that many Iranians do believe that the current crisis has been fostered in some way by the CIA. (And what the heck would we know if that’s true? The CIA did exactly that in Iran in 1953 and it wasn’t known here for many years.)

We also have the sad example from neighboring Iraq of 1991 when, after winning the Kuwait war but deciding not to follow the retreating Iraqi army b ack to Baghdad and overthrow Saddam Hussein, the first Pres. Bush publicly, on a Voice of America broadcast to the people of Iraq, called on ” the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside.” That statement apparently was a factor in touching off a major rebellion, in the belief that America would support the anti-Saddamists, which turned out not to be the case, with tragic and disgraceful results.

So although I would be very happy to see Iranians establish a real democracy, I’m very glad that Obama has limited himself to reasonable word choices, always wedded to the observation that this is about Iran, not America.

It seems to me that what we really have in this silly war of word choices over word choices is a president who really is trying to buy down some of the damage his predecessors have caused to our national reputation by swaggering implications that we get to decide who governs other countries. And we have a group of frustrated neo-cons who can’t handle that message. And a group of Repub message mavens who are happy for any excuse to connect the work “weak” to the Dem Prez.