How Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is like George Bush

Voting irregularities, religious appeals to the hard right, a busted economy. Spooky, very spooky

By Andrew Leonard
June 12, 2009 7:13PM (UTC)
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The polls in Iran should be closed now -- after being extended two hours due to heavy voting. So now seems as good a time as any to contemplate Alex Harrowell's observation in A Fistful of Euros on how Mahmoud Ahmedinejad bears some striking resemblances to George Bush.

An ambitious but limited regional politician who has spent time in the air force, he achieved election through a campaign for vague "reform" -- whether with results or not is a good question -- heavily tinged with religion or at least religiosity. In office, his term has been marked by a string of spectacular gaffes and crowd-pleasing rhetoric aimed at the hard right of the political spectrum, as well as a deliberately provocative foreign policy. Coming up to the election, Ahmedinejad leaves the Iranian economy in considerable trouble after over-spending on the belief that the boom would go on forever, and passing out considerable sums in favours to his clientele. Politically, he relies on low-information rural voters in parts of the country where the integrity of the ballot is frequently in doubt.

But let's hope the comparisons stop there. Bush was elected to two terms. One is surely enough for Ahmedinejad.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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