…Or so sayeth the sages at the Associated Press:
Bush Remarks May Have Spurred Iran Voters
Jun 19, 4:20 PM (ET)
By Brian Murphy
[We skip several lines to rejoin our story, already in progress.]
The sharp barbs from President Bush were widely seen in Iran as damaging to pro-reform groups because the comments appeared to have boosted turnout among hard-liners in Friday’s election – with the result being that an ultraconservative now is in a two-way showdown for the presidency.
So our premise here is that, but for the clumsy and thuggish attacks by Bush, the reformers would have won the day, capturing control of Iran from what that redneck in La Casa Blanca calls the “Moolahs.” Why, were it not for the savage, bitter mockery and “ridicule” that Bush heaped upon the Iranian election, the “result” would have been two other guys winning besides hard Hashemi Rafsanjani and harder Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. What a blunder! We could have had Ibrahim Lincolnjani.
Well, not exactly. Mr. Murphy backs away from the promise of his exciting first few paragraphs:
In 2002, most Iranians were indignant when Bush placed their nation in an “axis of evil” with North Korea and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Since then, U.S.-led pressure over Iran’s nuclear program has put even liberal Iranians on the defensive….
Bush’s pre-election denunciations seemed to do the same. Iranian authorities claim Bush energized undecided voters to go to the polls and undercut a boycott drive led by liberal dissidents opposed to the Islamic system.
The unexpectedly strong turnout – nearly 63 percent – produced a true surprise in the No. 2 finish of hard-line Tehran Mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, He will face the top finisher, moderate statesman Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, in a Friday runoff.
So what Mr. Murphy really alleges is not that the outcome could have been different, but rather that Bush’s savage, ripping, thoroughly uncalled-for remarks, his bellicose heaving and chest-thumping, increased the turnout in the election. (Though I am a bit puzzled how he — Murphy, that is — knows that “in 2002, most Iranians were indignant.” Did John Zogby conduct an indignation poll?)
Just above, Mr. Murphy makes clear his thesis:
But the harder the United States pushes, even with the best of intentions, the more ground it has seems [sic] to lose among mainstream Iranians, who represent possible key allies against the Islamic establishment, say some analysts of Iranian politics. [Emphasis added to facilitate making fun of the naïveté.]
Aha, we finally have a source. Mr. Murphy has not just been pulling his amazing knowledge of the inner workings of the Iranian mind out of his — um — briefcase. He got it from “some analysts of Iranian politics.” And who might those analysts be? The top FBI counterterrorism chief, perhaps? Or maybe from a reliable expert, such as Bernard Lewis, someone whose motives are above suspicion and beyond reproach? Oh, here we go; next paragraph:
“Unknowingly, (Bush) pushed Iranians to vote so that they can prove their loyalty to the regime – even if they are in disagreement with it,” said Hamed al-Abdullah, a political science professor at Kuwait University. [Emphasis added blah blah blah.]
Well! Who could argue with that? If even poli-sci professors in Kuwait, that bastion of Mideast democracy that is so grateful to America for saving it from Saddam Hussein, blame it on Bush, there’s not much room for argument.
And al-Abdullah is indeed a scholar, having published in 2002, for example, an article in the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences that waxed rhapsodic about the many benefits of the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the Islamic Republic of Iran that it has become today (starting page 73 of the pdf, if you want to check up on me), and which takes Professor Lewis to task for thinking democracy is somehow incompatible with theocracy. No bias there!
But that’s not all; Mr. Murphy is anything but a one-source wonder:
The conservative hard-line Iranian newspaper Kayhan wrote: “People crushed the U.S. comments and wishes under their feet….”
Another political commentator, Davoud Hermidas Bavand, believed the fallout from Bush’s statements went beyond the election by destroying lingering hopes that Washington policy-makers finally would accept Iran’s regime….
At a news conference Sunday, Iran’s foreign minister, Kamel Kharrazi, said Bush “should apologize to the people of Iran for his comments.” He also extended another wry “thank you.”
“Bush’s statements brought out voters who didn’t want to participate in the elections,” Kharrazi said. “We have to thank him for this.”
And lest anyone think that Mr. Murphy only sounded out pro-Mullah opinion on the matter, he makes clear that Bush’s Blunder resonates even among hard-core, counter-revolutionary, democratic, Iranian freedom-fighters as well:
But even many opponents of the Islamic establishment objected to Bush’s tone and timing.
The president’s words sounded too much like the pre-war rhetoric against Saddam, and many on-the-fence voters were shocked into action, said Abdollah Momeni, a political affairs expert at Tehran University.
“People faced a dilemma,” Momeni said. “In people’s minds it became a choice between voting or giving Bush an excuse to attack.”
After all, surely we can trust Abdollah Momeni, who has a bitter feud with the current Iranian regime, which has imprisoned him twice, once for 44 days in solitary confinement (of course, one can’t help thinking that if they really didn’t like him….)
There is the slight problem that Momeni is a major leader of the Office for Strengthening Unity — that fractured student organization that could not decide whether it wanted to boycott the elections or urge a vote; after all, they had a “reformist” among the allowed candidates: Mustafa Moin was initially barred from running by the Guardian Council, but then he was reinstated after student protests.
But he didn’t do very well, and neither did the boycott (if we believe the “nearly 63 percent” official figure). So given a choice between admitting that the OSU has become totally ineffectual due to internal dissent and apathy among students — or on the other hand, blaming everything on that horrible, unconscionable smear from Bush — well, let’s just say Momeni’s statement is not exactly unexpected.
At last — possibly writing in a white-hot fever of passion by this point — Mr. Murphy comes to the payoff of his entire article.
Across the Middle East, Bush’s blast hit a fault line.
The president is trying to firm up the United States’ pro-democracy credentials by encouraging gradual reforms in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.
But at the same time, the White House often is seen as having double standards with the occupation of Iraq and alleged abuses of Muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay. [Say "thank you, Senator Durbin!"]
The Bush comments are an example of “the kind of American intervention” that often boomerangs in the region, said Egyptian political analyst Salama Ahmed Salama.
“Bush meant to discourage the hard-liners,” he said, “but instead he mobilized their supporters.”
There we have it, the smoking gun from the smirking chimp! Bush’s gall-filled, hatemongering “blast” at the Iranian people has left his own Mideast policy in smoking ruin. Everything is lost; Bush’s slope-browed, knucklewalking, brow-ridged, discerebriated, rum-soaked ravings have destroyed everything. Were it not for Bush’s statement on the Iranian elections, the Iranian “conservatives” (who probably follow the teachings of Karl Rove and James Dobson) would have only gotten a turnout of perhaps 60%, or even as low as 59% — not a staggering “nearly 63 percent!”
Oh, lest I forget. What exactly were those despicable, indefensible slurs that Bush uttered from his alcoholic stupor? Here they are, read ‘em and realize how nobody in Iran could possibly do anything but support the Moolahs, after such militant calumnies:
In recent months, the cause of freedom has made enormous gains in the broader Middle East. Millions of people in Afghanistan and Iraq defied terrorists to cast their ballots in free elections. Palestinians voted for a new president who rejects violence and is working for democratic reform, and the people of Lebanon reclaimed their sovereignty and are now voting for new leadership. Across the Middle East, hopeful change is taking place. People are claiming their liberty. And as a tide of freedom sweeps this region, it will also come eventually to Iran.
The Iranian people are heirs to a great civilization – and they deserve a government that honors their ideals and unleashes their talent and creativity. Today, Iran is ruled by men who suppress liberty at home and spread terror across the world. Power is in the hands of an unelected few who have retained power through an electoral process that ignores the basic requirements of democracy.
The June 17th presidential elections are sadly consistent with this oppressive record. Iran’s rulers denied more than a thousand people who put themselves forward as candidates, including popular reformers and women who have done so much for the cause of freedom and democracy in Iran.
The Iranian people deserve a genuinely democratic system in which elections are honest – and in which their leaders answer to them instead of the other way around. The Iranian people deserve a truly free and democratic society with a vibrant free press that informs the public and ensures transparency. They deserve freedom of assembly, so Iranians can gather and press for reform and a peaceful, loyal opposition can keep the government in check. They deserve a free economy that delivers opportunity and prosperity and economic independence from the state. They deserve an independent judiciary that will guarantee the rule of law and ensure equal justice for all Iranians. And they deserve a system that guarantees religious freedom, so that they can build a society in which compassion and tolerance prevail.
Today, the Iranian regime denies all these rights. It shuts down independent newspapers and websites and jails those who dare to challenge the corrupt system. It brutalizes its people and denies them their liberty.
America believes in the independence and territorial integrity of Iran. America believes in the right of the Iranian people to make their own decisions and determine their own future. America believes that freedom is the birthright and deep desire of every human soul. And to the Iranian people, I say: As you stand for your own liberty, the people of America stand with you.
Robert Byrd, Ted Kennedy, Dick Durbin, Barbara Boxer, Patrick Leahy, and Mark Dayton rest their case.