August 31, 2006


Iranian President Meets Press and Is Challenged (MICHAEL SLACKMAN, 8/31/065, NY Times)

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad meant to use Tuesday to focus attention on his challenge to the president of the United States: a face-off in a live televised debate.

But at a freewheeling two-hour news conference, Mr. Ahmadinejad also found himself challenged by local reporters who questioned the government’s economic program and its tolerance of a critical press.

The marathon question-and-answer session offered a window into one of the many contradictions of Iranian politics and governance: even as the government grows more authoritarian, it is openly criticized and challenged on its performance.

In fact, the President oughtn't just accept, but should insist that the debate be held in Teheran and then turn the visit into a full-blown challenge to the regime.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 31, 2006 12:37 PM

He should send Cheney who is much more articulate and menacing. The little Iranian president will blink.

Posted by: ic at August 31, 2006 1:46 PM

If he sends Cheney, Ahmadinejad will simply say it's an insult because both he and Bush are heads of state, and the big media here will say its because Bush is afraid to debate Mahmoud.

Of course, if he wants to debate, Ahmadinejad can come to the U.N. General Assmebly meeting in a couple of weeks and demand a debate in New York, or Bush could go to Tehran, but very publicly hand Cheney controls of the nuclear football in case the Iranian president decided to use the trip as a nostalgic effort to replay his activities during the 1979 hostage crisis.

Posted by: John at August 31, 2006 3:35 PM

Khamenei is the head of state but you don't send Cheney because he doesn't grasp the question.

Posted by: oj at August 31, 2006 4:22 PM

"Iranian President Meets Press and Is Challenged"

President Ahmadwallawallabingbang has been challenged since birth.

Posted by: obc at August 31, 2006 5:27 PM

I think OJ's strategic instinct is right, but it is frustrated by Bush's defects. He does not have the acumen to do well in a debate. He is a very poor public speaker with a proven record of diplomatic failure.

This is a man who was too afraid to face Congressional questioning without Cheney as a handler, and needs media questions placed to him in advance in order to not look bad. When challenged he tends either to feebly repeat what he has already said or brings in non sequiter arguments that fools no one, rather than respond in a way that wins over the crowd.

In contrast, either Clinton or Reagan would have done extremely well in such a challenge.

This is an opportunity lost although it is only a lost positive and is not a negative. Foreign diplomacy is not handled in such fashion. If I were President, I'd offer to send America's best high school forensics debater instead.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at August 31, 2006 6:00 PM

I hope this is completely off the table. Why elevate this nutcase who thinks he's Bush's equal.

Posted by: erp at August 31, 2006 6:30 PM

He's won almost every debate in his public life and routinely gives outstanding speeches. The defect is a function of his critics' imaginations, which is not a defect but an asset.

Posted by: oj at August 31, 2006 6:33 PM

Because you can easily demonstrate him to be morally unequal.

Posted by: oj at August 31, 2006 6:35 PM

OJ: Haven't you argued quite recently that Iranians have the government they voted for, just like we do? And that Shari'a law is less oppressive than the American system? So wouldn't that make Ahmadinejad Bush's moral superior?

Posted by: PapayaSF at August 31, 2006 7:40 PM

Morality isn't determined by majority.

Posted by: oj at August 31, 2006 7:43 PM

Mr. Durnell has it here.

Bush barely beat Gore or Kerry (he lost one or two, and should have buried Kerry in the first debate), and Ahmadinejiad has many more brain cells to rub together than either of those two numbnuts.

If we think about this rationally, we wish that Jeb had won his first FL election. Then he'd be President, and He'd easily dispatch the Iranian.

Other than that, OJ has it right. It would be a wonderful opportunity to pants the regime at home.

Posted by: Bruno at August 31, 2006 8:38 PM

Bush beat a sitting VP in time of unprecedented peace and prosperity, winning every debate. He then spanked Kerry during an unpopular war, winning at least two of three, though arguably all three. Prior he beat McCain in the only high stakes primary debate and knocked out the popular Ann Richards.

He has flaws, but public speaking/debate isn't one.

Posted by: oj at August 31, 2006 8:48 PM


Gore, Kerry, Richards, McCain? Sure, the press inflated the expectations of these Bozos, making it easier for Bush to 'win.'

However, you continuously remind us of how the American electorate eschews pretentious 'intellectualism.' I would argue that this was the reason Bush 'won.'

You and I agree with the guy, and we could tear him to shreds in a debate. Frankly (and in another vein), I think he's just plain tuckered out.

His speeches and press conferences reek of resignation. His only trump card is that he's president, and he'll do what he likes.

He didn't even have the energy to hire a decent speech writer to address Mahmood's 18 page letter, and all of us know how utterly simple it is to 'Fisk' something like that.

Nah! Great guy, but stick a fork in him. He's done.

erp commented that we shouldn't even dignify Iran with a response. I'll bet that this exactly what the 'Amen Corner' of the Adminstration is telling themselves.

OJ is correct as to strategy, but the internal inertia of America's civilizational decline is dictating the outcomes here.

The Adimistration is too tired, too lazy, and too uncreative to take advantage of this opening.

But don't worry...

Buy stock in the company that purchases village trustees so that they condemn neighborhoods for corporate gain.

Vote for the next referendum so your kids get Franklin-Covey training on their district purchased laptops.

Focus like a laser on your little corner of the world.

Have another glass of wine.

Everything is fine. Really.

Posted by: Bruno at August 31, 2006 10:21 PM

Make it Tony Blair and I'll pony up for pay-per-view.

Posted by: Mike Earl at August 31, 2006 10:54 PM

He won. Did you think he'd be debating Cicero? You think Ahmedinejad is Reagan?

Everyone thinks they'd do better than these guys, yet they run and you don't.

Posted by: oj at August 31, 2006 11:17 PM

Who cares about the debating, let's just get to the part where we kill them. Does anyone doubt that it's coming.

Posted by: lebeaux at September 1, 2006 12:37 AM

It's not coming.

Posted by: oj at September 1, 2006 7:28 AM

D'accord. No killing on the agenda. Disdain to a monumental egomaniac is far worse.

Posted by: erp at September 1, 2006 12:13 PM