William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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HUH? – AT 8:26 A.M. ET:  I've figured it out.  The State Department is practicing its rhetorical weirdness, anticipating the exciting arrival of Susan Rice as secretary of state.  How else do you explain this one?  From NRO:

After the Egyptian president claimed unprecedented powers, prompting protests by various moderate and liberal factions across the country, the U.S. State Department has this to say:

As we called for last week, when confronted with concerns about the decree that he issued, President Morsi entered into discussions with the judiciary, with other stakeholders in Egypt. As I said, I think we don’t yet know what the outcome of those are going to be, but that’s a far cry from an autocrat just saying my way or the highway.

The emanations from State’s press secretary, Victoria Nuland, are downright surreal, and I delve into them more below. I’ve noted earlier that, beginning with the Hamas-Israel cease-fire announcement last Wednesday, the U.S. State Department hasn’t stopped with the gushing praise for the Egyptian president, Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi, who, the very next day, seized an incredible amount of personal power (neutering the judiciary and protecting his own decrees from review, among other things). The State Department’s response to this event, which some deemed a usurpation equal to anything Mubarak ever perpetrated, was notably weak, refused even to criticize the president by name, or bring up any particular transgressions.

Then yesterday, the State Department’s press secretary was pressed by reporters about the U.S.’s feelings on the power grab; it would take real effort to make them any squishier. Nuland:

We’ve seen the public statements. It’s a little bit unclear to us as yet precisely what has been decided, what the impact is going to be, whether the various constituencies have all felt that they’ve been heard and had their views taken into account.

So frankly, Andy, at this stage in Cairo, we are seeking further information and trying to understand what’s going on. But as you’ve seen on the ground, the situation remains unclear. We want to see, as we’ve been saying, a solution to the constitutional impasse which is consultative, which is democratically achieved, which protects a positive, democratic trajectory for this constitution, protects balances of power, protects a voice for all Egyptians in this process.

She’s right that the situation remains unclear in Egypt, especially in places like Tahrir Square, because the air is filled with tear gas.

And the “balances of power” which she says she hopes Morsi will protect? You’d have an easier time finding that on the wrecks of Octavians’ triremes in Alexandria harbor than anywhere in Cairo these days.

COMMENT:  What is so sad is that the American people appear uninterested in this major story, which can have a profound effect on the Mideast, and ultimately on us.  With the exception of a few brave reporters – there are precisely two who ask tough questions at Obama's press conferences, Jake Tapper of ABC and Ed Henry of Fox – the mainstream media is still largely in the tank for Barack, come to save us.

The decline of our foreign policy, and our influence abroad, continues.  The United States must be respected in other countries, but it must also be feared.  Respect without the power to back it up quickly turns to contempt and ridicule, which is what we're seeing now. 

But, hey, who cares as long as we get free stuff from the government.  Right?

November 28,  2012