Andrew Sullivan, the Atlantic columnist and former supporter of President Bush who turned away a couple of years ago, reminds me of the psycho ex-girlfriend stereotype, the one who can’t accept that the man in her life is gone. To all outward appearances, the Iranian presidential election was rigged, though I’d attach the caveat that we don’t have all of the facts yet, and what we do have has been filtered through a lens of hope for change in Iran.
To Mr Sullivan, there’s really no need to wait for more facts to come in, and he jumps into the condemnatory fray, eager to cast Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad into that most despicable of roles, that of Karl Rove!
Ahmadinejad’s bag of tricks is eerily like that of Karl Rove – the constant use of fear, the exploitation of religion, the demonization of liberals, the deployment of Potemkin symbolism like Sarah Palin:
Ahmadinejad made an advertising movie of himself and his family which was very effective among the masses. His simple life is similar to low income people. This is despite the fact that during his first term some people acquired a lot of wealth because of Ahmadinejad’s bad economic decisions, housing prices during the last four years tripled, industrial production decreased, many factories closed and unemployment increased. Import of goods such as rice, tea, sugar, and Chinese goods mostly helped the importers who are Ahmadinejad’s biggest supporters. It’s interesting that several of his ministers are very wealthy including his mister of the interior.
An increase in the price of oil and a $280 billion revenue allowed Ahmadinejad to not only raise people’s salaries but also to give cash, goods and even gold coins to the people who came to greet him whenever he visited a town or a village; just like the Qajar kings. Many of the agencies under the supervision of the supreme leader helped him in this matter.
The armed forces, specially the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij are Ahmadinejad’s supporters. Their penetration in the villages and small towns, and the fact that they are often from the lower income classes, played a major role in Ahmadinejad’s victory like the previous elections.
Think of this regime as Cheney and Rove in a police state setting, and you see what’s been going on. (Of course, Rove and Cheney live within a democratic system utterly unlike Iran, and there’s no evidence they would violate democratic norms as Khamenei just did. But their demagoguery, abuse of the state, dedication to conflict abroad, co-optation of the armed forces, and manipulation of rural and religious voters all have parallels in Red State Iran.) We keep expecting to see some kind of shame or some attempt at rational dialogue. They have nothing but contempt for that kind of talk. If they’re going to lie, it’s gonna be a Big Lie. Like this sham of an election.
Perhaps this was a deadline-pressure article on Mr Sullivan’s part, because it’s just not well-written, not up to his usual standards of Trig Palin trutherism. But, please, please, please, won’t somebody tell Mr Sullivan that George Bush and Dick Cheney and Karl Rove are out of office? He’s exhibiting journalistic stalkerism by this point.
I’d point out here that, even setting aside Mr Sullivan’s Bush/ Cheney/ Rove obsession, the comparison he made is wholly strained. As much as Mr Sullivan might not like to admit it, President Bush and his Administration allowed four free and democratic national elections to occur during their time in office, elections in which they and their party could have lost power, and in the 2006 and 2008 elections, did just that. Mr Sullivan couldn’t have found a more apt comparison, such as, say, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, with opposition media stifled, political opponents harassed and “president for life” status sought?
C’mon, Mr Sullivan, it’s time to move on. Bush Derangement Syndrome is just so last year. For a professional writer like yourself, it’s really time to get some new material.
(Hat tip to Donald Douglas for the reference.)