Egyptian president now rambling about "Planet of the Apes" in foreign-policy interviews

On the one hand, he’s nuts. On the other hand, using a tortured pop-culture metaphor for geopolitics suggests he’d make a fine blogger. Is “The Walking Dead” actually an elaborate metaphor for America’s looming fiscal collapse? Your answer to that question will tell you if you’re prepared for the logic bomb that’s about to be dropped on you. (Answer: Yes.)

He does seem to think that the remake of “Planet of the Apes” was terrible, which means he hasn’t lost touch with reality entirely:

We can cooperate, we can integrate. As much as we can. How can we do that? I think leaders in the world have a great responsibility in this. Human beings can live together.

I remember a movie. Which one? Planet of the Apes. The old version, not the new one. There is new one. Which is different. Not so good. It’s not expressing the reality as it was the first one. But at the end, I still remember, this is the conclusion: When the big monkey, he was head of the supreme court I think — in the movie! — and there was a big scientist working for him, cleaning things, has been chained there. And it was the planet of the apes after the destructive act of a big war, and atomic bombs and whatever in the movie. And the scientists was asking him to do something, this was 30 years ago: “Don’t forget you are a monkey.” He tells him, “don’t ask me about this dirty work,.” What did the big ape, the monkey say? He said, “you’re human, you did it [to] yourself. “That’s the conclusion. Can we do something better for ourselves?

I saw it 30 years ago. That is the role of the art. This is the very important role of art. Gone with the Wind has been treating social problems. Five in Hell. That was the Arabic title. Five Americans working behind German lines and they were using primitive military devices. I think it was Charles Bronson or something like that. My hard disk still carries a few things!

Wise words from an insane man. We’re in good hands here, I think. I wonder if Planet of the Apes’s lesson about not wrecking one’s civilization over political disputes came up when he was talking to Hamas or if that’s something he reserves for western magazine puff pieces about Egypt’s modern, Americanized Islamist leader. Looking forward to reading about his use of “Twilight” as a metaphor for Israeli/Palestinian relations in Newsweek.

Meanwhile, the power grab goes on:

A divisive panel boycotted by liberals and Christians was set to rush out a draft new Egyptian constitution as protests mounted over the political future nearly two years after Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow.

President Mohamed Morsi had just last week given the constituent assembly an additional two months until February to complete its work.

But as protests mounted over his decision to grant himself sweeping powers until the text is ratified in a referendum, the panel wrapped up its deliberations on Wednesday and readied for a vote on Thursday.

I assume Morsi was caught by surprise by the ferocity of the backlash to his “temporary” decree and now feels pressured to ram through the new Islamist constitution before the opposition gains more traction. Even if they pass it — and at the moment, it’s uncertain precisely what’s in it — it still has to be put to a popular referendum. But that’ll be messy too:

“Even if it’s approved tomorrow, there has to be a referendum on it. Victory is not guaranteed and a referendum will take at least a couple of weeks to organize. The supervisory commission to run it would be difficult to form, because it has to include senior judges who would likely boycott it, and judges are supposed to also be present at polling stations. All this points to a royal mess, a constitution that has no legitimacy among a big part of the public, and gives the opportunity to the Salafis — whose votes the Brothers now need to approve the latest draft — to introduce modifications to the text.”

So the final draft may be even more fundamentalist than it is now. That’s one mystery to watch; the other is how the Brotherhood will deal with the referendum. Will they cancel it outright on “security” grounds or let it happen and resort to old-fashioned Mubarak-era vote-rigging if the outcome isn’t what they’re hoping for? Remember the scene in Planet of the Apes where Charlton Heston seizes legislative power for himself and then commits electoral fraud to establish perpetual rule by fanatics?

I recommend following the link up top and reading all of the Time interview, if only for the flowery language he uses about democracy, justice, and freedom of expression. It makes a nifty companion piece to the news today that the filmmakers behind the Mohammed movie were sentenced to death in Egypt in absentia for blasphemy.