The Fox News reporter, speaking from Cairo half an hour ago, did not receive the right-wing-media talking points. Back in the New York studio, a Fox blonde had been skeptically quizzing Alan Colmes about all the downsides to Mubarak’s stepping down; the reporter instead excitedly gushed about the unforeseen and rapid triumph of people wanting, as Bush might have put it, to be free. Rush Limbaugh, meanwhile, after having spent the last two weeks criticizing whatever it was that the Obama Administration had most recently done towards Egypt—whether supporting regime change (remember that Bushism?) or backing off from regime change (either way, Obama was wrong)—has now lost interest in the story. After a sour prediction that Obama would try to take credit for Mubarak’s concession in his forthcoming speech about the Egyptian revolution, Limbaugh has been concertedly focusing on Obamacare—which is of course his right, it’s just that the sudden change of focus is rather startling.Here's another shot from the previous day:
Expect an outpouring of right-wing bile towards whatever Obama says about Egypt, as if any president wouldn’t want to align himself with what at this moment cannot help but conjure up hopes for greater openness in the Middle East—even if those hopes are ultimately dashed,
I am by no means an unequivocal fan of revolutions; I do not believe that human rights are universal and timeless, rather than the product of evolving and contingent political beliefs. But I could better stomach the right-wing media’s effort to discredit the Egyptian revolution and to portray it as a failure of Obama’s diplomacy if they had not given such unthinking jingoistic support to Bush’s Freedom Agenda, if Sean Hannity’s theme song was not “Let Freedom Ring,” if they didn’t claim a divine mandate to lead the world towards American-style democracy.
The right-wing punditocracy’s sputtering reaction to the Obama Administration’s Egyptian diplomacy is a new low point in the melt-down of rationality on the right.
I am utterly convinced that had Bush been in power and had gently suggested that Mubarak cede power, the right would have loyally backed him. After all, the Freedom Agenda was a signature Bush policy, if only intermittently realized in practice. Nothing that Obama is doing now contradicts that policy; in fact the nudge towards Mubarak is something that would seem to have been long overdue under the Freedom Agenda. The right cheered on the invasion of Iraq to remove a dictator, with its concomitant risk—temporarily realized–of empowering Islamists, in this case, Al Qaeda in Iraq. The Right is constantly extolling American exceptionalism and our God-given duty to spread freedom throughout the world. The Right has also proclaimed the need to back a war-time president and to maintain a strong executive control over foreign affairs.
But the rule on the right now is: If Obama is doing it, it is wrong.