A taste for you of what’s to come this afternoon after The One speaks and the media gets to work on transforming two weeks of embarrassment into a glorious foreign policy masterstroke. Here’s an easy prediction for you, though: While some of the dumber Democratic analysts may rush to credit Obama for Egypt’s democratic moment, the White House itself will be exceedingly modest about its role in this. Partly that’s because they have surrogates on the left and in the press to do the work for them, but chiefly it’s because they understand only too well how terribly this could turn out. If O steps up to the podium and rhetorically high-fives himself, and then the Egyptian military ends up rolling over protesters with tanks in a few weeks or the Muslim Brotherhood wins a majority in parliamentary elections, the GOP will hammer him endlessly with the soundbite next year during the campaign. He’d love to take credit, I’m sure, but he’d love a second term more. So, modesty for now.
I linked Jake Tapper’s demolition of the White House record on Egypt in the other thread — needless to say, the idea that they were pushing for democracy is a near-total fraud — but let me refresh your memory about the Cairo speech specifically since that’s what Blitzer’s on about here. Politico tackled this back on January 28:
The other sleight-of-hand in Axelrod’s comment is his suggestion that Obama’s visit to Cairo in June 2009 was intended or perceived as speaking hard truths to Mubarak. To the contrary, many in the region, in other Muslim countries and the U.S. (see here and here) saw the choice of Egypt for Obama’s first speech to the Muslim world as a huge laurel for Mubarak, not an albatross. Obama’s speech made no direct reference to political reform or human rights issues in Egypt, save for a passing reference to Christian Copts there. There were also reports that the U.S. eased up on democracy promotion there.
However confrontational the Obama administration’s approach to this issue may have been over the past two years, I certainly don’t remember Obama administration officials ever publicly suggesting, as White House press secretary Robert Gibbs did directly on Friday, that U.S. aid to Egypt was in jeopardy.
On Twitter, our favorite Democrat (who has family in Egypt) writes, “When I was in Egypt last summer many ppl said govt was instable & Mubarak cld fall anytime. No 1 ever mentioned Obama or Bush as a reason.” So there’s your framework for O’s statement, which is set to start any minute now. Something to watch for: How effusively he praises Mubarak as a way of reassuring jittery U.S. allies in the region. The Saudis are already feeling panicky; presumably there’ll be plenty of lip service in Obama’s comments about “stability” going forward to calm their nerves. Click the image to watch.