The Spectacle Blog

More Conservative Pessimism in Egypt

By on 2.8.11 | 12:11AM

John Guardiano takes Ben Stein, Jed Babbin and yours truly to task for our skepticism over the volatile political situation in Egypt.

Well, I guess that puts me in good company.

Guardiano will be delighted to know that I will have a new article up later this morning concerning which horse the Obama Administration will back. I am sure he will have something to say about it.

In the meantime, let me make a couple of observations about Guardiano's critique. First, Guardiano states that I am wrong to assert "that anti-Semitism and a hatred for Israel are the driving force behind the Egyptian uprising." Well, here's what I actually wrote:

So under the circumstances I think Sarah Palin is being absolutely prudent when she states, "We want to be able to trust those who are screaming for democracy there in Egypt, that it is a true sincere desire for freedoms." Palin would like to hope that Egypt will be a better place than it is now but she cannot be certain it will turn out that way. Now there are certainly demonstrators who want a liberal, secular democracy in Egypt. But when you consider that the demonstrators are more apt to hold signs of Mubarak with a Star of David drawn on his forehead than build a replica of the Statue of Liberty it ought to make the Mike Lupicas of the world pause for thought.

Curiously, Guardiano praises Lupica's criticism of Palin's position on Egypt. Specifically, he lauds Lupica for quoting Groucho Marx who famously said, "Who are you gonna believe: me or your own lyin' eyes?" Now, I don't know if Guardiano wears glasses. But if he does I strongly suspect there is a rosy tint in the lens because he is apparently unwilling to see the images of Mubarak being associated with the Star of David. Not only is the Star of David being drawn on Mubarak's forehead in pictures but they are being drawn on dummies of Mubarak being hung in effigy. If Egyptian protesters consider Mubarak a tool of Israel is it really a stretch that to think these protesters hold Israel responsible for their lot in life under Mubarak?

Let us consider that when the Pew Research Center undertook a survey of Muslim attitudes towards Jews and Israel in the spring of 2009, 95% of Egyptian Muslims responded that they had an unfavorable view. When you consider that Mubarak has maintained a peace agreement with Israel for all these years and yet Egyptian Muslims still overwhelmingly view Jews and Israel with such enormous hostility one simply cannot ignore such sentiments when scrutinizing the nature of the Egyptian protests.

Second, Guardiano makes the claim that Stein, Babbin, myself and other conservatives for our lack of optimism for the Egyptians and chides us for being "un-Reagan-esque" in our pessimism. Yet it's far from clear whether Reagan would have thrown Mubarak under the bus. Rush Limbaugh has been kind enough to uncover some footage from the Second 1984 Presidential Debate against Walter Mondale (the one in which Reagan said Mondale's youth and inexperience should not be held against him). During this debate, Reagan took the Carter Administration to task for its treatment of the Shah of Iran:

I did criticize the president because of our undercutting of what was a stalwart ally, the Shah of Iran. And I am not at all convinced that he was that far out of line with his people or that they wanted that to happen. The Shah had done our bidding and carried our load in the Middle East for quite some time and I did think that it was a blot on our record that we let him down. Have things gotten better?

In the grand scheme of things, President Reagan understood the difference between optimism and wishful thinking. Unfortunately, Guardiano's views on Egypt tend towards the latter rather than the former.

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