Rightbloggers Credit Bush for Egypt Uprising -- Then Blame Obama for Egypt Uprising
Hordes of citizens stand up to their nation's hated leader. But observers worry that when the revolution finally comes, religious fundamentalists hostile to democracy will seize power.
We're not talking about the Tea Party this time -- we're talking about the ongoing, massive demonstrations against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Rightbloggers were torn about this one. While many at first enjoyed the people-power street scenes as a celebration of freedom, their enthusiasm waned as they realized that Muslims were involved.
Americans are easily excited by foreign uprisings, particularly those they can follow on Twitter. As the sensational photos and coverage began to come in from Egypt, rightbloggers joined in the excitement.
New York Islanders Playoff Round 2 Game C (If Necessary)
TicketsTue., May. 10, 12:00am
New York Islanders Playoff Round 3 Game A (If Necessary)
TicketsWed., May. 11, 12:00am
New York Islanders Playoff Round 3 Game B (If Necessary)
TicketsThu., May. 12, 12:00am
New York Islanders Playoff Round 3 Game C (If Necessary)
TicketsFri., May. 13, 12:00am
Many claimed the uprising was all George W. Bush's doing, because he said some nice things about freedom in Egypt once upon a time.
He had inspired the revolution with his kind words for dissidents in 2008, suggested National Review's Jay Nordlinger. "Bush gave a speech that stood on the side of the men and women in the prison cells," said Nordlinger, misty-eyed, whereas "in America, the Left hated any talk from Bush about freedom and democracy... That American woman -- the type of American I know all too well -- might have said, repeatedly, 'Democracy is overrated.' But I don't think so. Bush doesn't think so. And the people in the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities don't think so."
Cue the strings! Never mind that, though Bush warned Mubarak on human rights a few times, we nonetheless continued to pour billions of U.S. dollars into Mubarak's government -- and money means much more to autocrats than do harsh words. Also, never mind that under Obama U.S. aid to Mubarak has been cut substantially. In the giant game of Risk Junior: Narnia that is the rightblogger vision of foreign policy, it's the thought that counts.
The headline "Egypt protests show George W. Bush was right" was disseminated all over the internet by rightbloggers. "President Bush believed that Muslims in the Middle East would prefer Liberty to oppression," said The Last Tradition. "Liberals vehemently thought he was wrong."
"It is interesting to wonder," wrote the Weekly Standard's Lee Smith, "what might have happened had these same protests erupted 5 years ago when the Bush White House was feeling its oats with victories for the freedom agenda in Iraq and then Lebanon." Smith seemed to think Bush would have gone to Cairo with a bullhorn to rally the protesters.
Right, Wing-Nut took a deep breath and yelled that "Barack Obama's star, once deemed brightest in the firmament, dimming more rapidly than a government-approved fluorescent bulb, while George W. Bush's returns to a glory he may not have seen since the early days of the post-9/11 era, all without saying a word," etc etc.
R,W-N then raged at the New York Times for not sharing his enthusiasm -- "If you can't speak ill of George W. Bush, the Times seems to feel, don't speak of him at all" -- and answered the words he had imputed to the Times, "That's fine. Don't speak of him. Your filthy mouths are not fit to utter his great name." R,W-N also claimed that "the hard core left is conceding Bush's points," offering in evidence the testimony of the noted hardcore leftist, Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek.
When Egypt's rulers pulled the plug on their nation's internet, rightbloggers sprang into action, accusing Obama of wanting to do the same thing. "Egypt Today, USA Tomorrow," roared Kristinn Taylor and Andrea Shea King at Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, claiming that Senate Bill S.21 is an "internet kill switch" the President can use to cut off online communications once the Tea Partiers finally decide it's shooty-shooty time.
"If we ever have social unrest here, it won't possibly look this bad, right?" said RightDog of the Charleston (SC) Tea Party. "Why, just because our economy is on the ropes, our kids have been dumbed down to believing that Jonathan Stewart is a legitimate a news source, our adults consumed with Oprah and Survivor and American Idol and Bachelor and cheap Chinese merchandise, and our 'leaders' are wandering about with one thumb up their backsides," etc etc. (We think it's sarcasm.)
"Tea party and other activists will see this as hint of what could happen here with an over-zealous President," said Marooned in Marin. "Given a similar economic state of affairs currently faced in the United States and the spontaneous rise and seizure of power by an independent movement such as the Tea Party," said ButAsForMe, "perhaps the Administration is worried about a domino effect spreading to the U.S....""If you support the right of American Tea Partiers to gather together and protest their government," said National Review's Jim Geraghty, "I don't quite understand why you would deny the average Egyptian the same right."
But eventually rightbloggers began to catch on that when Mubarak goes, radical Islamists -- particularly members of the Muslim Brotherhood -- could well take advantage of the resulting power vacuum, leading to a brand new, anti-American Islamic Republic.
National Review's Michael Ledeen thought America could still muscle the situation to our benefit: We should "try to pick and choose," he said, "supporting real democrats and thwarting the likes of al Baradei, the love child of both the Muslim Brotherhood and the Tehran crowd." That ought to go over big with the Egyptians! Now to find those real democrats, or import them from whatever CIA compound we keep them in.
(The piece also contains Ledeen's "Carthago delenda set," a call to "finally support democratic revolution in Iran," and this deathless neocon paen to freedom: "For the president to say 'Egypt's destiny will be determined by the Egyptian people,' or 'everyone wants to be free' is silly and dangerous.")
Generally speaking, rightbloggers were sure Obama was blowing it, one way or the other. Since, like most of us, they had only a vague idea of what was going on, most of their accusations were at first strictly ad hominem.
"Obama has shown himself to be too indecisive for the job of American President," reported Blackfive. "He makes Commander in Chief decisions based on domestic political dynamics, and he makes foreign policy decisions....well he just pretty much doesn't." Also: "Obama left foreign policy out of his SOTU speech for a good reason, he has no earthly clue what to do." Mee-ow! In case you thought Blackfive had only rhetoric on his side, he added hard evidence, e.g., "The Iranians laughed as [Obama] sat out their slaughter and subsequent pogroms against the Green revolutionaries and now he dithers while Egyptians die." Ripping stuff, though it might have been more convincing had Blackfive included videos of the laughing Iranians.
And for connoisseurs of mendacity, your moment of Jim Hoft: "As Egypt Burns... Obama Parties."
Eventually the brethren began to make an important adjustment relevant to the new realities: If the revolution could turn out badly, then obviously it had been engineered by Obama and the liberal media on purpose to hurt America.
Biased BBC accused reporter Jeremy Bowen of "going out of his way to allay any fears the British public may have concerning the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood should Mubarak fall in Egypt." The reason, conveyed sarcastically: "Israel's threat is Al Bowen's opportunity? Surely not." (They call him "Al Bowen" because they and other right-wingers believe him to be hostile to Israel, in case you missed the joke.)
streiff of RedState claimed reports that Obama met with members of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2009 meant that "the Obama Administration seems to think it has found a working partner in the Muslim Brotherhood. Why the Administration believes cavorting with an organization that is both violent and islamist makes sense is as unclear as [President Jimmy] Carter's man-crush on [Iran's Ayatollah] Khomeini." Actually the Brotherhood has not shown much public enthusiasm for Obama, but presumably they're keeping their love affair secret, in order to increase its America-destroying potential.
Another RedState cognomen, LaborUnionReport, added its bombshell report, "The American Left's Role in Leading Mid-East Regime Change: What the U.S. State Dept, Unions and New Media Companies are doing to foment chaos."
"Signs are beginning to point more toward the likelihood that President Obama's State Department, unions, as well as Left-leaning media corporations are more directly involved in helping to ignite the Mid-East turmoil than they are publicly admitting," said LUR.
What? LUR pointed to the recent, successful uprising in Tunisia, in which news reports said labor unions were involved. Maybe you're thinking of Lech Walesa's Solidarity in Poland, but LUR wants you to think of a different politically-engaged union -- the socialist AFL-CIO, whose Solidarity Center, "which works with other union around the globe," LUR reported, "has been supporting Egyptian unions for quite some time." Aha! Plus, Obama "applauded the courage and dignity of protesting Tunisians," which fact LUR rendered in boldface to enhance the perfidy.
As for the media angle, Obama called for Mubarak to restore the internet in Egypt, which LUR found suspicious. "For an administration that seems to be trying to walk a fine line between supporting an ally and 'respecting the rights of the Egyptian people,'" said LUR, "a call to turn the internet back on seemed rather odd." Well, sure it does -- everyone knows Obama wants to shut the internet down himself!
The wow finish: "It appears the world may be witnessing the first internet-led attempts at 'regime change,' orchestrated by President Obama and his allies on the Left."
The excitable Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs was an earlier adopter of the anti-uprising theme, saying "Iran has its hooves all over this" and making the case for retaining Mubarak: "Egypt is a secular government. The objective for all freedom-loving peoples in the world should be a transition to a new secular government. Will those elements in the protest movement be able to stave off Islamic supremacists? Iranian imperialism? I think not."
Later Fox News interviewed an officer of CAIR on the subject, and Geller exploded: "Horrible. We expect this from the leftist apologist cable networks, but FOX is dangerous because they pretend to get it."
"Where were these jackals when the Iranians were marching for freedom against an Islamic regime (one that these leftist tools are helping to install in Egypt)? ... Much to the left's chagrin, the Egyptian people are not burning American and Israeli flags. But I am sure CODE PINK and CAIR are working their magic over in Egypt..." etc.
Geller then went to Breitbart's Big Government to tell the world about "Obama's Carter Moment," claiming Obama was planning to throw Mubarak "under the bus," that "we see the hand of Iran behind what is unfolding in Egypt," Obama is a "quisling," etc.
Never a dull moment with Pamela Geller. But we have to give them all a round of applause for showing they can make a collective 180° -- from "Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!" to gloomy Realpolitik -- on such short notice. That, friends, is what you call message discipline.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.