Friday, June 26, 2009

He did something very dangerous

The other day Our President held a news conference during which he did something very dangerous. Well, two things.

One, he brought Huffington Post Blogger Nico Pitney to the front, said Nico (he named him, "Nico Pitney") and the internets had been doing outstanding work on the crisis in Iran, and said he understood that Nico might have a question from an Iranian.

Now, I have no particular brief for Nico Pitney or the Huffington Post when it comes to that. I've looked at Nico's Iran stuff from time to time, find it interesting certainly, and sometimes informative, but it is by no means definitive, and sometimes his judgement and skepticism regarding the information he is receiving and aggregating seem to fail. There's a whole other side of this Iran Thing that never seems to make it into Huffington Post or Nico's stuff. And we might get into that eventually.

As it happened, Nico did have a question from an Iranian, and he asked

"Under which conditions would you accept the election of Ahmadinejad, and if you do accept it without any significant changes in the conditions there, isn't that a betrayal of what the demonstrators there are working toward?"

Perhaps not perfectly phrased, but interesting just the same. Exactly what the demonstrators are working toward is something of a mystery -- which isn't to say they don't know what they are protesting and what kind of redress and resolution they want. It is to say that the way what they are doing is communicated to Americans, whether through Nico's postings, or in pretty much any other form, is being re-framed and re-interpreted to suit various domestic American political interests, in some cases completely transforming whatever is going on in Iran into some kind of dumbshow recapitulation of other events at other times in other countries.

American media seems to have no idea who this Mousavi is, for example, and has no interest in finding out. That translates into what could be a complete misinterpretation of the popular unrest following his apparent defeat in the Iranian presidential election. Also, the government destabilization program that the United States has been declaring it's been operating against Iran for years is completely ignored in most of the reporting on the Iranian Crisis. Given the history of these things, to suggest that the Iranian uprising is entirely spontaneous is somewhat naive.

But that aside, Nico provided a substantive question -- which the President sidestepped rather masterfully. I don't recall him actually addressing the issues in the question, but he did have a message for Iranians which he delivered in his usual style. One assumes it went directly to the Iranian people and government, and that, as they say, was that.

One thing I've noticed about this crisis is that the some of the Iranian people are communicating (often in correctly idiomatic English) directly with Americans, appealing to Americans. I've noticed the American government has treated the crisis very delicately, and has, for the most part, treated the government of Iran with a great deal of respect (which of course gets the wingnuts to frothing). And interestingly, in the denunciations issuing forth from the Iranian government, the British seem to be the ones taking the most heat; denunciation of the United States seems to be pro-forma and really quite mild. This indicates to me that even as there is uprising and crisis in Iran, the government there and the government here are moving along the path of accommodation to some things that the Obama administration set forth very early in its tenure.

Diplomacy aside, the whole situation surrounding the "Nico Incident" is potentially dangerous for Obama because he deliberately went outside the Protocols of the White House Press Corps to bring Nico into the August Presence and to address the Iranian people directly through this (Internet, ptooey) agency. Needless to say, the White House Press Corps is still in a snit about it. And they can be a vicious little pack of snarling and snapping juveniles when they want -- which they seem very much to want right now.

The other thing Obama did at his press conference was to slap down the demands of cable teevee's "24 hour news cycle" by telling MS/NBC's Chuck Todd that he has greater responsibilities than fulfilling cable's need for "news."

That sort of comment will just get the snarling and snapping by the WH Press Corps into a fevered pitch.

Is this White House really oblivious to what these media bullies and their toadies can do -- and have done -- when they feel they have been "wronged" by the White House or a candidate thereunto? "Heathers" isn't the half of it.

Well, the gauntlet is down.

To their corners and may the best team win.

It won't be pretty.

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