Friday Talking Points [82] -- Is Obama The Only Person Who Remembers What America Did In Iran In 1953?

[ Posted Friday, June 19th, 2009 – 17:17 UTC ]

Welcome back to your weekly Friday Talking Points roundup. This week will be a bit unusual, as instead of the normal list of talking points Democrats everywhere should be using this weekend in conversations (especially with the media), I'm devoting the entire talking points segment to one single issue -- why what President Obama is doing on the situation in Iran is exactly the right thing to do, and why his hands are tied (by the ropes of American history) so that saying anything more enthusiastic than he's already said would actually be counterproductive if you support the Iranians currently marching in the streets. Because there is a giant elephant in the room of the discussion of American/Iranian relations that nobody wants to discuss, and nobody (other than Obama himself) is even admitting exists -- an elephant with the year "1953" painted on its side. But more about that later, let's take care of the weekly chores first.

In the "silly story" category for the week, we now have video proof that President Obama, if annoyed sufficiently, would indeed hurt a fly. And not just hurt, but swat to kill. PETA immediately weighed in on "Flygate" (of course), but most Americans will see that video and merely marvel at the quick hands of our president.

Other silly news revolved around Barbara "Call Me Senator" Boxer, who told a military gentlemen appearing before her in committee to please call her "Senator" rather than "ma'am." Those not aware of Washington protocol may find this strange (reactions were harsh from some corners), but the reality is that any official in Washington, elected or appointed, should be respectfully addressed by their official title. It's a sign of disrespect not to. Even ex officials still get their last (or highest) title used with their name (which is why it is still "President George Bush" and "President Bill Clinton" even though they aren't, anymore). If Boxer were male, nobody would have even noticed if she had chastised someone for not calling her "Senator," so I smell a whiff of sexism about the issue even being raised, personally. But then I like Boxer, as she's the best Senator California currently has, so I may be a bit biased on the issue, I admit.

In more serious news, the healthcare battles rage on. I've been writing about this for weeks now, which is one reason I'm taking the day off from the subject. If you need a review, you can check out last week's talking points (devoted entirely to healthcare reform talking points), my suggested ad script for Senator Kennedy, highlighting the idiocy of courting Republican votes with a tax hike, and a call for the public's voice to be heard on the issue.

On that last issue, I do have some news. While the mainstream media has ignored it (unlike, say, the teabag protests), there will be a huge rally in Washington, D.C. on June 25 (next Thursday) for healthcare reform, which is being staged by, and supported by a variety of organizations pushing for real healthcare reform (such as the AFL/CIO). If you can make it to the D.C. area next Thursday, and want to show your support, please check out the information for the rally and consider attending. Watch the site for all the details.

One other interesting development in the healthcare struggle is the emergence of Senator Chris Dodd as Teddy Kennedy's official stand-in. Dodd is the second-most senior member of Kennedy's committee, and although he was a little late to the battle (Senator Max Baucus, who chairs the other Senate committee healthcare reform has to make it through, jumped in earlier to the fray and has been receiving more attention as a result), Dodd now seems to be stepping up to the plate. Dodd wrote an interesting piece recently, which is fairly strongly behind the public option, at least as I read it. But no matter how Dodd works out as Teddy's heir as champion of healthcare reform, at least he's now entered the fray.

Howard Dean, who it should be noted is a medical doctor, has been trying to champion a much stronger position on healthcare, but he is being mostly ignored by the media, so his voice isn't getting through as loudly as one would have liked. But you've got to give him credit for trying. Dean doesn't control the media, so the fact that they're ignoring him isn't really his fault.

But, as I said, I've already kind of exhausted the subject of healthcare for the week, so let's move on to the awards before I weigh in on Obama and Iran.


Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

While President Obama was indeed impressive on handling the aftermath of the Iranian elections this week (no matter what Republicans are saying), I'm devoting the whole talking points segment to this, so I'm arbitrarily disqualifying him for Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week. He certainly rates an Honorable Mention, though.

Likewise, I have been conflicted after awarding a MIDOTW award last week to an organization (Change Congress) who ran an ad exposing a Democratic senator for accepting millions in healthcare industry dollars and then fighting reform on their behalf. But we here at Friday Talking Points are wondering about the propriety of handing out MIDOTW awards to organizations that are not, technically at least, Democrats. Is this fair? Is it proper? I throw it open to the commenters to weigh in on this subject.

Because there were a few organizations which would have clearly qualified this week for the MIDOTW award. Sam Stein at the Huffington Post has the story, and the new ads. So, should Health Care for America Now (HCAN),, and Americans United for Change be eligible for the weekly awards, or not? Go see the videos, even if you think they shouldn't be in the running for the MIDOTW. And don't be shy about weighing in on the issue in the comments.

The Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week, however, is a four-way tie. This was due to the late entry of three House committee chairmen, who (finally!) came out strongly for the public option in the healthcare reform debate. Congressmen Henry Waxman, Charlie Rangel, and George Miller held a united press conference for their healthcare reform proposal, which includes a strong public option Rangel described as "the best of Medicaid, best of Medicare, then kick it up a notch." If you've been wringing your hands, wondering "when are the Democrats going to fight for the public option?" (as have I), then you will enjoy reading the whole story, which breathes some Democratic fire into the fight -- which has been sorely lacking up until now. So for all three committee chairmen, congratulations on winning Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week, and here's hoping you win a few more during this fight.

And finally, before this afternoon's announcement, we had already decided to award this week's MIDOTW to Congressman Barney Frank. Frank sponsored a bill which would move marijuana from being a "Schedule I" dangerous controlled substance to "Schedule II." While this sounds esoteric, the result of this move would be to let the states experiment with medical marijuana without the fear that the federal government would overrule their efforts in federal court. Schedule II drugs have medical benefits and can be prescribed by doctors, while Schedule I drugs cannot (under any circumstances). I called for this exact action from President Obama a few months ago, and will have more to say on this bill next week (you can look it up under the number "HR 2835" to see if your representative has co-sponsored it... right before you pick up the phone and urge him or her to do so, of course, if they're not on the list), but wanted to acknowledge Congressman Frank's efforts to interject some sanity to federal drug policy as it relates to medical marijuana at the state level.

So to all four recipients of the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award, congratulations, and keep up the good work!

[Congratulate Representative Barney Frank on his House contact page, Representative George Miller on his House contact page, Representative Charlie Rangel on his House contact page, and Representative Henry Waxman on his House contact page, to let them know you appreciate their efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

This week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week is none other than former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. Daschle, along with his new buddies Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich, and Trent Lott (I wish that were hyperbole, but Daschle himself cites these three), introduced the mother of all compromises as a "bipartisan" healthcare reform plan, which conveniently left out the public option. Reaction was swift, and two Huffington Post headlines sum up the depth of the feeling: "Daschle, Dole Release Health Care Plan, Forget To Mention They Are Health Care Lobbyists," and the more direct "Go Away, Tom Daschle."

So, for proving that it wasn't just the free limousines (which he forgot to put on his taxes), but for Daschle's prime example of how Washington often defines "bipartisanship" -- as "Democrats caving in to Republican wishes" -- Daschle is hereby awarded this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week. Let's all be thankful he is not now the Secretary of Health and Human Services, since we all so obviously dodged a bullet on that one.

[Since Daschle is out of public office, I have no official contact information for him, sorry. I guess if you'd like to contact him, you could pony up a few hundred thousand dollars and pretend to be a healthcare company, as that seems to get his attention.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 82 (6/19/09)

Most of the time, we present seven discrete (but never discreet) talking points for Democrats to consider using when being interviewed by the media (or, for the rank and file, for use around the company watercooler). But this week, we are presenting one enormous talking point instead, since Republicans are making such a big deal out of it (because they sense political weakness).

But there's a reason that President Obama and Henry Kissinger are both on the side of saying less (and not more) about the situation in Iran right now, and why Congress (led by Republicans) and some Democrats within Obama's own administration are on the other side of the debate. It involves the history of our two countries, which nobody seems to bother pointing out, but which is the key issue involved within Iran itself.

Americans have two severely limiting traits, which must cause the rest of the world to scratch their heads trying to figure us out at times. The first is an absolute inability to see things as anyone anywhere else in the world sees them. And the second is a highly selective and whitewashed view of our own history.

If we didn't have these two traits, nobody in their right mind would be pressuring President Obama to do or say anything more than he's already said on the situation in Iran right now. Because if these voices crying out for Obama to publicly support the Iranian protesters took into account how it would be seen in Iran itself, they would realize that any support from America is the absolute kiss of death for any street demonstration in Iran. Maybe in a generation or two this won't be the case, but for now any eager words from the President would spell doom for any uprising within Iran. Obama is smart enough to know this. Republicans in Congress, many in the news media, and even some members of Obama's own administration apparently are not this smart.

They need a history lesson, in other words. Because there is a large elephant's corpse in the room whenever any pundits pontificate about "what we should do about Iran" which is not even mentioned. Again, this is utterly stunning to the rest of the world. "Don't they know their own history?" you can almost hear them asking. In a word -- no. No, we don't. And I'm not even talking about the man-on-the-street typical American citizen, I am talking about people who are paid to have an intelligent opinion on world events and American foreign policy.

Let's work on that "inability to see things from another point of view" problem. Let's say that, right after World War II, the United States of America was invaded by Martians. But this was no armadas-of-flying-saucers military invasion, but rather a covert operation run by the Central Martian Intelligence Agency (CMIA). The CMIA infiltrated Washington, paid mobs of people to run riot, and, by doing so, caused us to change our government overnight and install a puppet government who took his orders from Mars. This Vichy-type puppet ruled America ruthlessly for the next quarter-century, suppressing dissent with secret police, and generally acting like a tyrant. Then, in 1976, instead of celebrating our Bicentennial, we instead had the Second American Revolution, and restored the type of government we wanted. This would mean that when your father was a boy, he knew the "old" United States of America, and then he saw Mars take over. Your parents lived through the tyranny of Martian puppet rule for a generation. But then just when you were born, the country was freed and a new system of government was installed by the American people themselves.

Stipulating this alternate history, I have one question for you: How would you feel about Martians and Mars today? Might you harbor a little resentment? And perhaps a whole lot of suspicion of Martian motives?

Because, with very few changes, that is exactly the position the Iranians find themselves in today with respect to the United States of America. And that is why some of them hate us (and chant: "Death to America!"), why most of them distrust us, and why any accusation that anyone in Iran is acting at the behest of the American government is (literally, at times) the kiss of death to them. Because of what we did to them in 1953. Which they have not forgotten (even though we, for the most part, have -- if we ever learned about it in the first place).

How ridiculous is any discussion of Iran/American relations that does not at least acknowledge this central fact? How divorced is it from reality for us to speak of "how Iranians view the United States," without bringing up the fact that we overthrew their government fifty-six years ago, and then supported a dictator for another twenty-six years afterwards?

And yet, listening to even very intelligent commentators in the American media, 1953 has gone down the Memory Hole. No mention is made of why Iranians bear America ill will. No historical context whatsoever is given. Even though these events did not take place hundreds of years ago, but rather in living memory under President Eisenhower.

People on the news do speak of recent history in Iran. And, if they wax historic, they hearken back to the Islamic Revolution of 1979, and the Hostage Crisis. Rarely is the Shah even mentioned. And 1953 is virtually never mentioned. In America. But this doesn't mean the Iranians have forgotten.

The whole episode started when the Iranian prime minister decided, in 1951, to kick the British out and nationalize their oil industry. The British had been raking in the lion's share of the oil (and the profits) from Iran since roughly World War I. And the Iranians had finally had enough. So they kicked the Brits out.

The British were not (to coin a phrase) amused. They begged their American cousins to help them out. President Truman refused. But when Eisenhower took over, they (according to some reports) laid down a quid pro quo -- the U.K. would pull out of supporting American in the Korean War, unless we helped them out by overthrowing the government of Iran. The CIA convinced Eisenhower to go along with the British, and we ran the operation from that point on.

The pitch was made (as it would be made over and over again for various countries during the Cold War) that the Soviets were going to take over Iran, and that all the world's dominos would soon be falling as a direct result. It was a matter of American national security, in other words, which meant we had to do what we had to do to keep it from happening.

The whole operation was run by Teddy Roosevelt's grandson (and F.D.R.'s cousin) Kermit "Kim" Roosevelt. It almost turned into a fiasco, but in the end achieved the result intended -- prime minister Mohammed Mossadeq was overthrown, and the Shah of Iran was installed firmly as the head of the country -- who then took his orders for the next 26 years not from the American Ambassador, but from the CIA station chief in Tehran. In other words, it wasn't much of a secret who was pulling the strings.

But even though this history is hard enough for Americans to face up to, what is even more relevant to today's situation is the mechanics of how it happened. To be blunt, we hired thugs to form mobs in the streets of Tehran, and incite riots. With cold, hard American taxpayer dollars.

Here's how the seminal book Legacy Of Ashes: The History of the CIA, by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tim Weiner, describes the chaos (the CIA's grand plans almost completely fell apart several times, and the actual coup in the end was a decidedly ad hoc operation):

August 12 ... [Kermit] Roosevelt's Iranian agents cascaded into the streets of Tehran. Newspapermen and printing presses spewed propaganda: [Prime Minister] Mossadeq was a communist, Mossadeq was a Jew. The CIA's street thugs, posing as [communist] Tudeh Party members attacked mullahs and defiled a mosque.

August 16 ... Radio Tehran announc[es] that the coup had failed.

So the CIA began improvising. They decided to sell the story that the coup itself had been staged by Mossadeq. The Shah (who had fled to Baghdad, and then on to Rome, much as he would later flee the 1979 Revolution) was recorded for radio broadcast selling this propaganda. So the mobs in the streets had a new script to follow. Which they did:

[August 17] ... hundreds of paid agitators flooded the streets of Tehran, looting, burning, and smashing the symbols of government. Actual members of the Tudeh Party joined them, but they soon realized "that a covert action was being staged," as the CIA station reported, "and tried to argue demonstrators into going home."

By August 19, the CIA-hired crowds had their final script. They were now "pro-Shah" demonstrations:

They began shouting anti-Mossadeq, pro-Shah slogans and proceeded to march through the streets ... they seized ranking members of the government, burned four newspaper offices, and sacked the political headquarters of a pro-Mossadeq party.

This culminated with some actual military fighting, as the CIA had finally convinced some of the Iranian military to back the Shah. Mossadeq was, after a short standoff, arrested. He was later tried, sentenced, and died over a decade later, still under house arrest.

Now, after reading all of that, compare it to what you've seen on your television screens for the past week. Is there anything which could discredit the brave Iranians of today more than if the President of the United States suddenly was their friend? The Iranians in power have already floated the idea that America is involved with the demonstrations, but so far it is seen as a baseless charge. So far. That could change overnight. Because it is not exactly a far-fetched idea that America could ever do such a thing when we have already done so in this country.

High-flown rhetoric is one thing, but historical facts are another. Consider this presidential quote, from a speech titled "A Chance For Peace":

"[A]ny nation's right to form a government and an economic system of its own choosing is inalienable ... any nation's attempt to dictate to other nations their form of government is indefensible."

Obama in Cairo, reacting to President George W. Bush's foreign policy mistakes? Although it could be, it is not. That quote was from President Eisenhower, in March of 1953, a few months before he allowed the CIA to overthrow Iran's government. You can see why Iranians don't exactly have a reservoir of trust for fancy presidential pronouncements.

Because they remember history. We, quite simply, do not.

Except, thankfully, for President Obama. Two weeks ago in Cairo, Obama gave a speech where he -- for the first time for an American president (as far as I am aware) -- actually admitted our role in the 1953 overthrow in Iran:

For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known.

Well, you'd think it would be well known. But, sadly, in this country, it is not. So while Congress feels free to pass strongly-worded proclamations, President Obama is doing exactly the right thing by keeping out of the situation. An administration official was quoted today summing up exactly why this is, and why people screaming for Obama to say or do something differently have it exactly wrong: "The administration's view is that a measured U.S. response gives the protesters and their quest for greater freedoms a larger -- rather than smaller -- chance of succeeding."


Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground

Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post


-- Chris Weigant


17 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [82] -- Is Obama The Only Person Who Remembers What America Did In Iran In 1953?”

  1. [1] 
    akadjian wrote:

    I have to give Pat Buchanan some credit on this for recognizing the situation and giving Obama credit.

    Hate to say it as I rarely agree with Buchanan, but think he's dead on when he says things like:

    “When your adversary is making a fool of himself, get out of the way... U.S. fulminations will change nothing in Tehran. But they would enable the regime to divert attention to U.S. meddling in Iran’s affairs and portray the candidate robbed in this election, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, as a poodle of the Americans.”

    The conservatives who are criticizing Obama probably do understand the situation, but are trying to score cheap political points with those who don't. It sure sounds good to say "We support the demonstrators!" until you realize that saying this officially as the US government can hurt their efforts.

    - David

    More on Buchanan ...

  2. [2] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    akadjian -

    I will check it out. If you think it's strange to be agreeing with Pat Buchanan, imagine how I feel agreeing with Henry "Mr. Realpolitik" Kissenger...


  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Depending on the next move of the Supreme leader, over the course of the next hours and days, President Obama may no longer have the luxury of a measured response.

  4. [4] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    On the first question, about giving awards to groups: it's been done before. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the UN peacekeepers a few years ago. But if you want to recognize individuals, you might just find out who is really the driving force behind a certain group. Janice Williams won the Peace Prize in 1999 for her work on the land-mine ban; in her case, she was the person assembling a coalition of more than 1,100 NGOs. Food for thought.

    On medical marijuana: there is no legitimate purpose to the presence of marijuana on Schedule I. None. Even cocaine is on Schedule II. It's the politicization of a plant, pure and simple.

    Now as to the talking point: I've come to the realization that Americans don't value history the same way the rest of the world does. In fact, there are times when it seems like we have no history, or at least no sense of it. Some of it is enforced: even recognizing the existence of history -- say, the 1953 coup -- draws fire from the right for "blaming America." Come to Alabama, and you'll find a state haunted by its history, where the only history allowed in polite company is the one invented by D.W. Griffith and Margaret Mitchell.

    I'm quite pleased with the way Obama has handled this situation. It's vital that the focus remain on Ahmadinejad and Khamenei; this can't be about 1953 or 1979. It needs to be about 2009, and the enemies of Iranian democracy must stay Iranians. Inserting the US is neither appropriate or smart.

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    Those not aware of Washington protocol may find this strange (reactions were harsh from some corners), but the reality is that any official in Washington, elected or appointed, should be respectfully addressed by their official title. It's a sign of disrespect not to.

    Sorry, Chris, but I have to call foul on this one.

    In the military, civilian leaders are always referred to as "sir" or "ma'am". The General was not being disrespectful at all.

    This is simply a childish attempt by Boxer to display her well-known contempt for the military.


    Depending on the next move of the Supreme leader, over the course of the next hours and days, President Obama may no longer have the luxury of a measured response.

    Very well said.

    I think that A> Obama is doing the right thing, but 2> is going to take a real hit on this.

    Why? Simple. Things WILL blow up over the next few days. There will be a HUGE crackdown by the theocracy in Iran and Obama will have to weather accusations of, "SEE!! If you had been more forceful, this wouldn't have happened!!!"

    Of course the logical and rational amongst us know this isn't true, but average Joe & Jane voter will eat it up.

    If things do go down this way, you can expect Obama's poll numbers to go even lower.

    I give it a 65% chance that the theocracy in Iran will crack down and do so very violently. If that occurs, there is 95% chance that Obama will get blamed for it and a 85% chance that the accusations will stick..

    {Michale casually puts away his crystal ball and gets ready for work} :D


  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I think you may be right about President Obama taking a hit on this - from all sides - if things take a turn for the worse in Iran. I base that simply on the reactions that he typically receives from his so-called supporters - especially those who like to call themselves progressives - not to mention the typical Republican reaction.

    I also agree with you that President Obama is handling this crisis quite deftly. But, then again, that is not too surprising considering the intellect of the President and the sage advice that he is receiving on this issue from you know who.

    And, by the way...what do you propose we do about the ‘average Joe and Jane voter’ and their collective knack for inviting a 100% chance that President Obama will be blamed and for ensuring that there is a 100% chance that those accusations will stick!

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:


    The problem as I see it, is that rank and file Democrats (and, to be fair, independents) put Obama on such a high pedestal that the only way to go IS down.

    They hyped Obama as the coming messiah and NO ONE can live up to such hype..

    Forgive the crude terminology, but Obama's legions have stepped on their wee-wees and Obama (and the country) is going to pay the price.

    If Obama can show the same guts and mettle in Iran (and North Korea) that he showed in dealing with the Somalia pirates, then his popularity with Joe & Jane Voter will sky rocket..

    Of course, he'll piss off his base, but c'est la vie... :D


  8. [8] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, I just have to address the Boxer thing. Sigh.

    Now, without searching out the transcript of the hearing, which would certainly put this in some necessary context, I have to give an example here.

    In the military, saluting is a sign of respect. Mandatory respect. But it is an action reserved for the military. Civilians are not supposed to salute military officers at all. In fact, when they do it, it is incorrect. There is one exception to this, and currently his name is Barack Obama. As far as I know, the only civilian allowed to return a salute is the C-in-C (although possibly there are allowances for ex-military, not sure about that one). Now, if an eight-year-old kid salutes a soldier, everyone knows he's not being disrespectful by it, and it's OK with everyone. But say you were in uniform in a bar, and a biker came up and insultingly saluted you. A fight may be imminent, because the respect is definitely missing.

    In other words, a salute can be a sign of respect, an improper sign of respect, or an outright insult, depending on the context.

    Which is why I'd have to dig out the transcript. If the officer had addressed every male senator as "Senator" and called Boxer "ma'am," that would be a definite snub. Tone of voice would tell a lot, too, so the transcript may not even be enough. But yes, "ma'am" can be used insultingly.

    Even if there were no pertinent context to go on, he is in her realm. If you appear before a judge in a courtroom, you are going to call him whatever he demands you call him -- "Your Honor" or "Judge" or whatever. If you call him "sir" he may take offense, even though "sir" is usually a sign of respect. This is his prerogative, in his courtroom.

    As it is Boxer's, in her committee room. Sorry, but if Boxer were touring a military base and an officer called her "ma'am" that would not be as disrespectful as calling her "ma'am" in her hearing room. And she is well within her rights to demand it. Anyone who thinks this is "just her" or "just women senators" has not spent a lot of time in DC. Titles are important in that town, and their usage is properly given even on the street -- but when in an official hearing, not using them is indeed a sign of disrespect, even if "ma'am" is usually OK. She is not a ranking officer. She is a United States Senator, and if she wants to be addressed by her title, then you better do so. Just because the news media had a little fun with it doesn't change that. She certainly isn't the first to demand it (male senators do it all the time, and it doesn't make the news).



  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I don't know a lot about Senator Boxer but I would assume that if she actually asked to be addressed by her proper title, then the ma'am she received was given with less than the respect she deserved and/or the military gentleman in question was expressing ideas more in tune with the last administration.

    Personally, you can call me anything you want except late for'am! I hate being called ma'am - absolutely, positively, unequivocally! It doesn't happen often but, when it does I cringe...with great animation.

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:


    Fair enough.

    I would agree with you. If General Walsh had been addressing male senators as "Senator" and reserved the "ma'am" for Senator Boxer, then that would be a snub.

    While this is possible, it probably would have come out by Boxer's people in defense of Boxer and her "come-uppance".

    And I also agree that the media and conservatives are "picking on" Boxer over this and it wouldn't have been any big deal from any other Senator. But, considering Boxer's well known contempt and conflict with the military, it is definitely understandable.

    Yes, it's a silly little incident that really has no meaning in the large scheme of things. Just as General Walsh calling Boxer "ma'am" instead of Senator is a silly little thing that she didn't need to make such a hoopla over.

    One has to ask.. If Boxer, for whatever reason, had Secretary Clinton in front of her and Clinton referred to Boxer as "ma'am", would Boxer have publicly chastised Clinton over that? I doubt it.

    But we can all agree, it's a minor point. :D

    "Let's rub all these points together and see what we can come up with."
    -Denzel Washington, THE SEIGE


  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Maybe, if you ask real nicely, Chris will delete your 'One has to ask' paragraph...beacuse, well...that is a silly little question and doesn't quite rise to the level of a 'point'. Secretary Clinton would NEVER have used such a term to refer to Senator Boxer...even I know that.

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, now I understand...perfectly!

    I just saw a very short clip of the 'ma'am' incident and it all makes sense now.

    The military gentleman in question is with the US Army Corps of Engineers and he was testifying about restoring coastal Louisiana in the wake of, check that, in the wake of the damage and carnage due to the drowning of New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina as a direct result of poorly designed and constructed levees and flood walls courtesy of the US Army Corp of Engineers.

  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:


    Secretary Clinton would NEVER have used such a term to refer to Senator Boxer…even I know that.


    Are you saying that Secretary Clinton would never refer to a sitting Senator as "sir/ma'am"?? I'll have to research that one. :D

    My entire point is simple.

    If Boxer truly cared about this as a "respect" issue, she would not have disrespected a flag officer by publicly calling him out on something that is perfectly acceptable.

    If Boxer DIDN'T have a political ulterior motive, then her course of action would be to let things slide and then, in a private moment **AWAY FROM CAMERAS AND REPORTERS** she would have asked the General that, in future encounters, could he refer to her as Senator instead of ma'am.

    THAT would have been the appropriate response if it was truly and solely an issue of respect.

    But, because Boxer was playing to the cameras and publicly dressing down a flag officer, it's apparent that Boxer's issue had NOTHING to do with respect.

    Respect is a two-way street. If Boxer wants General Walsh to respect her Senator-ness, then she damn well better respect his General-ness.

    Anything less is hypocrisy....

    Granted, we all have our biases here in play, so it's all pretty much a moot point. :D


  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    Getting back to the OTHER topic (IRAN) my opinion is developing with the situation.

    I agree that, in the early stages, it was wise for Obama to maintain an aloof stance. The logic behind this is two-fold. First, blatant US vocal "involvement" might have pushed the theocracy into a violent response. Secondly, it would be a propaganda issue if Iran could point to the US and claim it is instigating things..

    Well, that logic is no longer valid, because the theocracy has instigated violent responses to the protests. And, as is clear, the government of Iran is already blaming the US for things, even though the US response has been tepid and half-hearted (assed??)

    It's becoming clear that the Obama administration is afraid of offending the Iranian government which will make it that much harder to deal with them over the nuclear issue.

    This is a GROSS mistake by the Obama administration. It's clear that diplomatic overtures to the current Iranian leaders is not going to work.

    Kissing their asses now, in hopes that they will reciprocate down the road is foolish at best.

    The best thing the Obama Administration can do now is to launch a full scale PR blitz in favor of the protesters.

    The US is going to get the blame anyways...

    "If we are to be damned, let us be damned for who we really are."
    -Captain Jean Luc Picard


  15. [15] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, I just can't help but get drawn back into this.

    I bet Hillary Clinton, having BEEN a senator, knows exactly how to refer to senators and always does so, without fail. I also bet that Boxer would call her "Madame Secretary." And if Boxer didn't, Hillary would be just as right to make a stink over it as Boxer did. And, yes, I would support Boxer if she had dressed down Clinton in the same fashion if she was using "ma'am."

    But as for Boxer taking him aside later in private, I have to say: Hogwash! This is a HEARING. It's like a COURTROOM. Any senator, male or female, is WELL within their rights to tell the WITNESS in the hearing to correctly address "the bench," just as any judge can literally have you thrown in jail for not calling him "Your Honor" (contempt of court). Ask a judge some time if he or she thinks it's a "silly little thing" or not.

    Oh, and Michale, you raise a good point. If at any time during the hearing, Boxer did not use "General" in speaking to the witness, then I would be just as strongly taking her to task. You are right -- respect for titles works both ways.

    Again, having said all of that, I still am not convinced it's worth wading though pages of committee hearings to find out the answers to the context question. On that level, I do agree this is silly -- there are far more important things to do with all of our times. Like phoning your Dad for Father's Day...

    What interests me about Boxer is whether Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to take her on for her Senate seat... but that's more of a local thing to California.


  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    And, yes, I would support Boxer if she had dressed down Clinton in the same fashion if she was using "ma'am."

    My point is that Boxer WOULDN'T do it because A> Hillary is a fellow Democrat and 2> Hillary isn't in the military.

    Any senator, male or female, is WELL within their rights to tell the WITNESS in the hearing to correctly address "the bench," just as any judge can literally have you thrown in jail for not calling him "Your Honor" (contempt of court). Ask a judge some time if he or she thinks it's a "silly little thing" or not.

    Agreed. Boxer was within her rights to do what she did. No one is disputing that. But I feel she did it, not because it was within her rights or not because she genuinely felt slighted but because she saw an opportunity to publicly embarrass a military General Officer.

    It's her motivations I question. And, considering her well-known disdain of the military, I think it's a legitimate point.

    Again, having said all of that, I still am not convinced it's worth wading though pages of committee hearings to find out the answers to the context question. On that level, I do agree this is silly — there are far more important things to do with all of our times. Like phoning your Dad for Father's Day…

    No argument there.. :D

    What interests me about Boxer is whether Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to take her on for her Senate seat… but that's more of a local thing to California.

    "The Schwarzenegger Presidential Library. Wasn't he an actor when you...?"
    -Lenina Huxley, DEMOLITION MAN


  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    WOW... All of this sounds REAL familiar... :D

    What have I told ya'all about Bush's legacy??

    We're seeing it formed right here....


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