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March 07, 2005

Partly Defending Clinton For His Pro-Iran Remarks

Last week I noticed that Little Green Footballs had a report about Clinton apologizing to Iran's mullahs at Davos for American sins, as well as making this startling statement:

Iran today is, in a sense, the only country where progressive ideas enjoy a vast constituency. It is there that the ideas that I subscribe to are defended by a majority.”

I didn't blog it, because LGF himself seemed incredulous that Clinton would say such things, and the sourcing wasn't rock-solid-- it came, it seems, from an Arab newspaper, and I suspected his comments had been maybe taken out of context or "sweetened" for the home audience.

But now there's audio.* And he said pretty much what he was reported to have said:

And I apologized when President Khatami was elected, I publicly acknowledged that the United States had actively overthrown Mossadegh and I apologized for it. And I hope that we could have some rapprochement with Iran.


“Iran is the only country in the world that has now had six elections since the first election of President Khatami (in 1997). (It is) the only one with elections, including the United States, including Israel, including you name it, where the liberals, or the progressives, have won two-thirds to 70 percent of the vote in six elections: Two for president; two for the Parliament, the Majlis; two for the mayoralties. In every single election, the guys I identify with got two-thirds to 70 percent of the vote. There is no other country in the world I can say that about, certainly not my own.”

So: Clinton thinks the Iranian populace is more "progressive" than the population that elected him President twice.

But here is the partial defense of Clinton's remarks: He isn't speaking about the regime being progressive; he is speaking about how the actual populace votes. Their voting preferences are of course frustrated by the regime's wholesale disqualification of reformist candidates, and the Iranian constitution gives an outsized amount of power to the mullahs, no matter what the voting might say.

And part of Clinton's point seems to be what we all realize (including President Bush, of course): That taking action against the regime controlling Iran could result in alienating the citizens of Iran, who are, by and large, in favor of reform and in favor of rapprochement with America.

Still: What's this business of apologizing to maniacs and giving their insane hatred of the United States legitimacy-- legitimacy straight from the mouth of an ex-President?

As Geraghty says:

Clinton’s earlier remarks also sound suspiciously like blaming U.S. foreign policy for the Iranian revolution (guess our embassy employees had it coming, huh, Mr. President?) and for Saddam’s crimes of the 1980s. Obviously, that played well with the Davos elites. But one wonders if President Clinton would make the same remarks if he were, say, on the campaign trail with Senator Clinton in 2006?

One wonders if Senator Clinton agrees with the former president’s foreign policy analysis, and huzzahs for the Iran elections process

One begins to wonder if there's not something to Dick Morris' pet theory that Bill Clinton's ego will simply never allow his wife to become President. Whether he winds up suggesting that "maybe Osama bin Ladin is just misunderstood" or boinks a sixteen-year-old waitress at Hooters, he's going to tank Hillary, perhaps entirely subconsciously.

And for that, I thank Bill Clinton. This is the part of his "legacy" I applaud.

* Confused By the Sourcing: TKS implies this tape is from Davos (hes'a actually unclear about it); LGF says it's from a "recent interview with Charlie Rose." It's definitely an interview with Charlie Rose; did this interview occur at Davos? I honestly don't know.

But whether or not he said these things at Davos or elsewhere, he did say them.

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posted by Ace at 02:51 PM

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