June 8, 2009

HALO, GOODBYE:

TV debates electrify campaign (Michael Theodoulou, June 08. 2009, The National)

Mr Ahmadinejad, 52, was left reeling against the ropes by an early body-blow from [Mehdi Karrubi] the white-bearded reformist, who is the only cleric among the four presidential contenders. Mr Karrubi mocked the president for claiming that a halo-like, celestial green light had descended on him when he addressed the UN General Assembly four years ago. World leaders were supposedly so transfixed by Mr Ahmadinejad that they sat unblinking – literally – for nearly 30 minutes as he spoke. The president’s opponents have long used the tale to portray him as a hallucinating zealot who appears to believe he is on a divine mission.

In response, a visibly winded Mr Ahmadinejad simply spluttered that the New York episode was untrue. However, a video clip of the president recounting his mystical experience to a leading ayatollah, Adollah Javadi-Amoli, has been circulated on Iranian websites.

It took some time after the “halo” jibe for Mr Ahmadinejad – who sported a dark striped suit rather than his trademark, man-of-the-people cotton bomber jacket – to regain his quick-witted pugnacity and recover his smile that often resembles a smirk. But while he chuckled at his opponent’s barbs he was never as self-confident as he was in a similarly fiery encounter last Wednesday with Mir-Hossein Mousavi, a moderate candidate who is Mr Ahmadinejad’s main threat to securing a second four-year term.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 8, 2009 3:05 PM
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