Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

June 15, 2009

CANTOR'S CRAVEN CRITICISM.... House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who has never demonstrated a working understanding of any public policy issue, released a press statement today blasting President Obama for not doing more to intervene on developments in Iran.

"We stand with the people of Iran in their struggle to participate in a democratic election and who deserve the right to freely assemble and voice their opposition to its questionable outcome.

"The Administration's silence in the face of Iran's brutal suppression of democratic rights represents a step backwards for homegrown democracy in the Middle East. President Obama must take a strong public position in the face of violence and human rights abuses. We have a moral responsibility to lead the world in opposition to Iran's extreme response to peaceful protests."

We've been over this, but Cantor's a little slow on the uptake, so let's review.

The more the United States intervenes in support of those Iranians sympathetic to the West, the less it helps those Iranians sympathetic to the West. Indeed, Cantor may have noticed -- or then again, may he hasn't -- that we haven't heard an outcry from reformers in Iran, imploring the Obama administration to speak out in support of their efforts.

There's a reason: it's their fight and they don't want to look like U.S. stooges.

A senior administration official told the WaPo, "The fact is that there is clearly a debate going on among Iranians about Iran. It is not about us."

Cantor is outraged by the administration's "silence." But in our reality, the administration hasn't been "silent" -- it's been speaking out strategically, in statements and in media interviews, raising doubts about the legitimacy of the election. It's not about passive disinterest; it's about avoiding steps that would be counterproductive. If Iran's regime is on the defensive, pushed by massive protests by Iranians taking to the streets, active U.S. intervention runs the risk of throwing Ahmadinejad a public-relations life preserver.

Gary Sick, a former National Security Council expert on Iran in the Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations -- not, in other words, a liberal activist or party hack -- explained, "The Obama administration has handled this pretty well. There's nothing we can do in a proactive way that is going to improve things. We could make things a lot worse."

That Cantor doesn't understand this says more about his confusion than the president's principles.

Steve Benen 4:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Another thing Obama might be doing that would be a sign of encouragement to reformers is reassigning Dennis Ross from envoy to Iran to something else in the NSC. Ross has a reputation of being overly pro-Israel.

Posted by: Danp on June 15, 2009 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

"That Cantor doesn't understand this says more about his confusion than the president's principles."

Is Cantor so dumb or does he hope Obama will speak out, helping to keep incumbent in office accompanied by much violence, and derailing US negotiations with Iran? As far as I can make out, Republicans only care about what can put Republicans back in power, and peaceful transformation of any foreign country isn't going to help do that.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on June 15, 2009 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Cantor can't help himself, that's what Republicans do....make things much worse.

Posted by: ckelly on June 15, 2009 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

There's nothing we can do in a proactive way that is going to improve things. We could make things a lot worse. -- Gary Sick

Cantor and his ilk see an opportunity to make things worse and don't want to waste any time.

Posted by: beep52 on June 15, 2009 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Is anybody really paying any attention to these clowns?

Posted by: Saint Zak on June 15, 2009 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Why doesn't big bad brave warrior Cantor just go there himself and save the Iranians from themselves?

Posted by: Former Dan on June 15, 2009 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

That Cantor doesn't understand this says more about his confusion than the president's principles.

This, hopefully, isn't about Eric Cantor not understanding it. This is about Eric Cantor understanding that the Republican base isn't understanding it and that he can score some easy points with them by projecting the politician who, in contrast to the wimpy president, isn't afraid to speak out forcefully for liberty.

Posted by: SRW1 on June 15, 2009 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

If he watched Glenn Beck, he'd know that both candidates were chosen by the mullahs and it doesn't really matter.

Posted by: RRS on June 15, 2009 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

If Iran's regime is on the defensive, pushed by massive protests by Iranians taking to the streets, active U.S. intervention runs the risk of throwing Ahmadinejad a public-relations life preserver.

Exactly.

And let's not forget, Ahmadinejad was elected in the first place largely because of Bush's policies and his stupid 'Axis of Evil' approach. Whatever popularity Ahmadinejad (hardline, nationalist) has is largely a response to that mentality, plus the stupid back and forth with Israel.

I have no idea whether Iran's Friday's elections were rigged, and I don't know if Iranian military (???) firing into protesters support that assumption (it certainly doesnt refute it).

Looks a lot like a precursor to civil war.

Posted by: Monty on June 15, 2009 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Remember the Shah? Iranians do. Cantor would succeed in embarrassing all Americans for his stupidity. Some fools don't know when to keep their mouth's shut and Cantor is such a fool.

The response would be "is America meddling in our affairs again?". Cantor has not learned the power of attraction yet still thinking we should dominate the world. An imbecile can't be reasoned with just tolerated till the adults come. Next he'll be screaming "We are all Iranians now". Maybe Obama should just nuke 'em now eh Cantor? Where was he during the South America political plague...but hey Muslims are different huh Cantor?

Posted by: bjobotts on June 15, 2009 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP believes they see a chance to score cheap PR points with the public. They still feel the best way to win back support is to vilify their opponent.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on June 15, 2009 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. Just. Wow.

It's hard for me to understand how such an ignorant twat manages to get himself elected to Congress.

Posted by: alexis_d on June 15, 2009 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Just a comment to danp, I was wondering if you'd seen the Haaretz article that suggested the Obama administration is doing exactly what you suggested. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1093058.html

Frankly, I'm wondering what's taken them so long. That book he published was a very poor choice for someone in his position.

Posted by: harlequin115 on June 15, 2009 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Cantor is trying to score cheap points, which is his total game. As a former Republican, I am so sick of the leadership of the GOP (and even sicker of the pseudo-leaders). Although they cannot get anything right and have no new ideas, the GOPers hope that the Democrats will screw up enough to return them to power. They are attempting to lay down the messages for that. You would think that Obama has been in power 5 years instead of 5 months if you listen to the blame assessed by Repub. talking points. I think the leadership of the party is so incompetent that the GOP will go the way of the Whigs, almost regardless of what Democrats do.

Posted by: Peter777 on June 15, 2009 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

harlequin115 - Yes. In fact, the link I put there was to the haaretz piece. And I agree with you about the book.

Posted by: Danp on June 15, 2009 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

The criticism of Eric Cantor is based on the premise that he gives a rat's behind about democracy in Iran. There is no reason to think this. On the other hand, there is a lot of reason to believe that he wants the situation in Iran to disintegrate tremendously on the off chance that he can then get another war going that will kill and wound a lot more US military that the Republicans can then honor and forget about.

And don't forget the important part. While Americans are dying, Republican corporations will be making a huge pile of money. Now does that make things a bit clearer about why Eric is doing what he is doing.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on June 15, 2009 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

"It's hard for me to understand how such an ignorant twat manages to get himself elected to Congress."

That's because he hails from a congressional district full of "ignorant twats."

I'm afraid we'll have to put up with that from whoever they elect.

Posted by: bdop4 on June 15, 2009 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

"That Cantor doesn't understand this ..." Steve, Steve, how many times do we have to tell you that your naivete or affectation about the tactics of conservatives is amateurish and counterproductive. Maybe you're partly right, but Cantor's main job, quite literally, is to come up with ways to embarrass and weaken Obama. He doesn't give a crap what actually makes sense, even though likely could imagine that if he wanted to.

Posted by: Neil B ♫ on June 15, 2009 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Projecting our desires on the rest of the world is half the reason we have to deal with adversaries like Ahmadinejad in the first place.

Hopefully the Obama administration understands history well enough to know that if it is to happen, democracy must come from within Iran, without the arrogance of our meaningless comments from the sidelines.

If Obama doesn't understand that, then surely he knows that we might still be faced with an Ahmadinejad presidency when all is said and done.

Posted by: Dave Potts on June 15, 2009 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Douchebag Ari Fleischer is crediting Bush with having inspired the reformist movement--y'know, the reformist movement that was in power until Bush called them evil.

The Republicans are such naked and disgusting opportunists.

Posted by: Luke on June 15, 2009 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

the conceit of a guy like cantor -- tho remarkably common in the commonwealth he represents -- borders on traitorous contempt for the united states. either that or cantor's stupidity does, and he should be relieved of office for one or the other dominant characteristic.

Posted by: neill on June 15, 2009 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Republican leadership once again demonstrates that they are CLUELESS about foreign policy. Please, Mr. Cantor, let the people with brains work out how to respond. Just go back and play in your sandbox and stop undermining the efforts of the Iranian people to take care of their own problem.

Posted by: Lauren on June 15, 2009 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

You've made the mistake of confusing Cantor with someone with an actual "diplomat". He is little more that an actor in the RW comedy troupe

Posted by: justmy2 on June 15, 2009 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Cantor understands just fine. He's deliberately trying to damage Obama and the reformer's cause. He wants Ahmedijad in power.

Posted by: Steve on June 15, 2009 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Standout line for me:

We have a moral responsibility to lead the world in opposition to Iran's extreme response to peaceful protests.

With the possible exception of Israelis, I can't think there are many people in the Middle East who would agree with that sentiment. Thanks to the Republicans like Cantor, in fact, there are few people left in the world who think America has some sort moral superiority.

We did have. It has been squandered. Well done!

Posted by: zhak on June 15, 2009 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

C'mon, surely y'all have better memories!

Cantor is saying NOTHING that Bush 43 wouldn't have said in a heartbeat! The same Bush who was such a MASTER of Middle East policy he left the region in a state of utter chaos.

The events in Iran have yet to fully play out, and we must be patient. The last thing we should be doing is to be seen as meddling in Iranian affairs -- something else this country has done to such wildly successful results!

Posted by: EthanQ on June 15, 2009 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

After the 2000 election, when Bush was appointed president, I considered his presidency suspect. But after he was re-elected in 2004, the fault was ours, not the system.

Obama is putting the decision into the hands of the Iranian people. And why not? Our own country was born of internal revolution.

Posted by: tomj on June 15, 2009 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Eric "We Are All Iranians Now" Cantor has been a dick, is a dick, and will always be a dick. But a dick without the balls to support the dickishness, which is why he always sings in such high registers.

"Moral responsibility" to meddle, my big left toe! I've always heard that temple cantors are vain morons who think nothing can be done without them. Perhaps it's genetic?

Posted by: exlibra on June 15, 2009 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Cantor had a moral responsibility to speak out about Israel's slaughter of innocent civilians last December and failed to do it. So now he ponies up with his phony moral indignation? Where was he last month when IDF soldiers fired on a Californian engaged in peaceful protest in Gaza? That kid's in a coma. Where was he three weeks ago when IDF soldiers fired on kids throwing rocks in a peaceful protest of their 60-year occupation?

Now we're supposed to believe that he gives a rat's ass about Israel's stated enemy that he, Mr. Cantor, wrote a letter about to Congress under the aegis of AIPAC after their annual convention in May urging the US Congress to take draconian actions against Iran, and threatened "there will be a domestic price to be paid for any serious effort to push for a [peaceful] solution" to the I/P issue (according to Matt Yglesias.)

Posted by: Bob H on June 15, 2009 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

The party of fake outrage rears its tiny little head once more. So while Cantor unapologetically opposes talking TO the Iranian government, he unabashedly supports talking ABOUT it.

Seriously, this is not even a fair fight. I always knew the Republican Party was a sham, but the extent to which it has evaporated is simply stunning.

Posted by: Leo on June 15, 2009 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

It is difficult--no, impossible--to tell who, exactly, is more stupid: Eric Cantor or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Cantor's remarks about Obama's "silence" are like Ahmadinejad's remarks about Iran's "free" elections: such remarks can only be the product of a severely deluded mind woefully incapable of grasping even the barest outlines of reality.

Posted by: Belgian Beer on June 15, 2009 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

Is Cantor so dumb or does he hope Obama will speak out, helping to keep incumbent in office accompanied by much violence, and derailing US negotiations with Iran? As far as I can make out, Republicans only care about what can put Republicans back in power, and peaceful transformation of any foreign country isn't going to help do that

The giveaway is Cantor's saying "We stand with the people of Iran in their struggle blah blah blah..." The GOP doesn't give a rat's ass about the people of Iran. They'd bomb Iran completely off the map if given half a chance. Cantor wants Obama to intervene. He does understand the administration is doing the right thing right now; he wants them to fuck things up instead.

Steve, don't automatically assume these guys are total idiots. They're just not as smart as Obama. It's why he's up and they're down.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on June 15, 2009 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

It is not important to Eric Cantor to be seen making coherent policy suggestions. What is important is to be seen criticizing the President. The Republican Party is no longer interested in actually governing, or even participating in reality as we know it, and Cantor is playing his role.

Obama could merely say "The sun rose in the East this morning," and Cantor would be all over it as a foolish appeasement to the undemocratic and evil international astronomical interests.

It's his job.

Posted by: biggerbox on June 15, 2009 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

Eric Cantor is a dick.

Posted by: David Bailey on June 15, 2009 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who has never demonstrated a working understanding of any public policy issue

That pretty well sums him up; Cantor is dumber than dirt and is just doing his job as a cheap thug, trying to muddy the waters solely for the purpose of doing so. He and the GOP could care less about Iran or about anything other than their own power and egos; he'll say whatever he's told to say if they think it will make President Obama look bad.

Posted by: electrolite on June 15, 2009 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

Eric Cantor is a dick.

Posted by: David Bailey on June 15, 2009 at 10:19 PM

And that is exactly right. Some guys are assholes, some are jerks, some are douchebags and some are just cheap bastards.

Cantor is a dick, pure and simple.

Posted by: electrolite on June 15, 2009 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

Cantor's outrage over Iran is because..(duh)..like his fellow Israelis in congress he wants to stir as much shit as possible between the US and Iran.

Posted by: Carroll on June 16, 2009 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

Please, oh please, let Cantor become the outfront and acknowledged speaker for the Republican Party.

His job is not to attack; there are plenty of Boehners around. He is to offer the reasoned and rational, alternative plans. Rally round the intellect!

I can hardly wait for his presentation of the GOP energy plan tomorrow. With any luck the media will start to interview the real author, Cheney, and Canot will be batted around some more by the GOP's experienced, old hands.

Posted by: Bob Johnson on June 16, 2009 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

"The Administration's silence in the face of Iran's brutal suppression of democratic rights represents a step backwards for homegrown democracy in the Middle East."

Uh-huh, that's right Eric, dear boy. A coup here, an overthrow there, pretty soon you've got real home-grown democracy in action.

Posted by: Ken on June 16, 2009 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

6-25-09
Today when asked if Gov. Sanford should resign, Republican Whip Cantor said thats up to the people of S.c. and he should not meddle in their business.
Yet he was one DEMANDING that Obama meddle in the affairs of another country. HYPOCTITE!!!!!

Posted by: George on June 25, 2009 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly