Saturday, February 05, 2011


Good news -- almost:

The leadership of Egypt's ruling party has resigned is what is seen as a major concession to try to appease protesters who have demonstrated against the regime of President Hosni Mubarak....

Reuters and Al Araibya television have earlier reported that President Mubarak himself had resigned from a leadership position in the NDP as well, but those reports appear to have stemmed from confusion that Mubarak is chairman over the council which resigned.

Mubarak still continues as the nation's president....

Yeah, he's still hanging on -- and the mere fact that there are negotiations taking place on the terms of a transition is splitting the opposition:

The united front among Egyptian opposition parties fractured Saturday as several of them began negotiating with Vice President Omar Suleiman, despite earlier promises that they would not agree to talks until President Hosni Mubarak stepped down.

... representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition party, said they had not participated in the talks. Nor did Mohamed ElBaradei, the democracy advocate and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who had earlier been chosen by opposition parties as their spokesman.

"Mubarak needs to go as a precondition of talks," ElBaradei said in an interview Saturday night....

I don't like the way this is headed. I don't like the fact that America is quite visible putting its weight behind the notion of a gradual negotiated transition, which has to be tainting the idea of negotiations in the eyes of a lot of Egyptians.

I still worry that Mubarak is going to ride this out through a combination of shrewd chess moves and brute force. I don't even accept the notion that he'll leave in September.


Meanwhile, there's a split in this country -- within our right wing -- and while you'd think that might cheer me up, I'm not ready to cook up any popcorn. Ben Smith reports:

Sharpening the divide on the right over whether Egypt's uprising should be viewed with fear or optimism, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol writes in the magazine's new edition that conservativism must support democracy in the largest Arab country....

Kristol suggests that Charles Krauthammer has been too skeptical of the outcome in Egypt, but saves his strongest words for Fox News' Glenn Beck:
[H]ysteria is not a sign of health. When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He's marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s.

Is he? Joe Klein suspects he is:

... This is not unimportant. Kristol lies very close to the throbbing heart of the Fox News sensibility. And I've heard, from more than a couple of conservative sources, that prominent Republicans have approached Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes about the potential embarrassment that the paranoid-messianic rodeo clown may bring upon their brand. The speculation is that Beck is on thin ice. His ratings are dropping, too--which, in the end, is a good part of what this is all about. But I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a mirror-Olbermann situation soon.

I don't think so. I don't speak with any authority on Egypt, but I've watched U.S. politics long enough to predict confidently that Ailes and Murdoch are absolutely not going to fire Beck, or pressure him to leave, any time soon.

Bad ratings? This is a canard. His ratings are down, but he still has the 5th-ranked cable news show in America, which means his show's ratings are better than any show on MSNBC, CNN, or Headline News. Moreover, if he were forced from Fox, brand loyalty among teabaggers and other rage junkies would take a serious hit, and neither Murdoch nor Ailes is going to risk that. And in addition to whatever mental imbalances may drive Beck, it's obvious from the recent Esquire interview, and from every other interview of him I've ever read, that Roger Ailes has a rage disorder so intense that he's more apt to expand Beck's show to two hours than take him off the air, just because he pisses so many non-conservatives off.

Kristol can write whatever he wants, but Beck isn't the only wingnut who sounds Beck-like right now:

Mike Allen:
BEHIND THE CURTAIN -- CONSERVATIVES PLAN TO USE EGYPT TO ATTACK OBAMA NEXT WEEK -- E-mail with subject line "Developing story idea for you," from Joe Brettell of CRC Public Relations, which represents many conservative policy groups: "Dear Mr. Allen, Given the confluence of stories in the last couple weeks regarding Egypt and the Middle East, rising oil prices and challenging economic numbers, I wanted to suggest a story that looks at the parallels between the challenges faced by President's Carter and Obama. Obviously, there have been whispers about the similarities, but not a lot of actual stories that have taken it on objectively; it's a brewing angle and I think you should be the one to write it.... You can expect a big push on this from conservatives in the next week or so."...

"You can expect a big push on this from conservatives in the next week or so." I bet.

CRC has ties (or has had ties) to the RNC, the Christian Coalition, the Media Research Center, Regnery Publishing, and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Beckism may be critiqued, but it absolutely won't be silenced. It's too big a part of the right.

On this subject, the only thing that can quiet Beck and the Beckettes is Mubarak winning the battle of wills. And yeah, that might happen.

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