Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The interview

President Obama did an interview on Al Arabiya, and the interview was aired on Tuesday. You can watch it on You Tube: part 1; part 2.

Of course, the right-wing idiots have wasted no time before blasting him for appearing on Arabic television and talking to Muslims. Read the comment thread, if you can do it without retching from the illiteracy and the wingnuttery. Try these, for example:

I knew it obama is off to his new friends the muslims
Last week he refused to answer a question from FOX News (?) regargding lobbyists in his administration; this week he scheduled time for a television interview with Al-Arabiya.
The previous president, of course, would never have done such a thing as give an interview on Al Arabiya. Never! [Eh? What’s that? Oh, um...] Well, OK, he actually did so six times. Imagine that.

OK, enough about that. What’d he say?

He opened it by saying that George Mitchell will “start by listening,” rather than “start by dictating.” Listen to both sides. Find out what they need. Come back and work out a response. Not telling them what to do, but mediating and helping them negotiate.

He said that we can’t just think about the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. There’s also Syria and Iran and Lebanon and Afghanistan and Pakistan. “These things are interrelated.” He talked of “communicating a message to the Arab world and the Muslim world that we are ready to initiate a new partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interest.”

Speaking of Al Qaeda, “There’s no actions that they’ve taken that, say, a child in the Muslim world is getting a better education because of them, or has better health care because of them.” He brought out a quote from his inauguration speech, “You will be judged on what you build, not what you destroy.” He gives the Muslim world credit for recognizing that “that path is leading no place except more death and destruction.”

Other sound bites:
“the Americans are not your enemy”
“what you’ll see is somebody who is listening, who is respectful”
“a drawdown of troops in Iraq, so that Iraqis can start taking more responsibility”
“the language we use matters”
“to the broader Muslim world, what we are going to be offering is a hand of friendship.”

Notably, President Obama has avoided inflammatory phrases and sabre-rattling rhetoric such as “war on terror,” phrases that draw cheers at rallies but that are empty on inspection. Instead, he talks in specifics. And we’ll be able to see the results, one way or the other.

The more I see this sort of thing, the more pride I have that we’ve elected someone who can lead the country out of the hole it was pulled into in the last eight years. This is a good interview, and it will make a difference in how we’re perceived, and, thus, in the cooperation we get in pursuit of peace and stability.

1 comment:

Ray said...

When I saw the interview last night on the News Hour, I knew that he would get lots of nutso criticism from the rational (!!!) right-wing.

My sister-in-law and her husband, while not quite so rabid (but just as nutty in other ways), are complaining about how their tax dollars are going to pay for abortions abroad now that the gag rule has been lifted once more. I'd argue with them over the way my own tax dollars have been (mis-)used by BushCo for the past eight years, but it simply isn't worth getting into that argument. They're right, and that's that.

Still, I was just as impressed by Obama's interview as you were. In a way that's sad, though, because it's just another indication of how far we've fallen, that hearing a rational person explain rational points of view can appear so overwhelmingly wonderful.