Quote of the day

National Review writer says President Obama more comfortable with the Iranian regime than he'd be with a free Iran

By Alex Koppelman

Published June 22, 2009 10:45PM (EDT)

Some people on the right disagree with President Obama's stance on Iran. And hey, that's fine -- senior officials within the president's own administration, like Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, reportedly do as well.

But while most just think Obama's pursuing a bad strategy, the National Review's Andy McCarthy says he knows why the president's doing what he's doing, and it has nothing to do with good intentions. From a post McCarthy wrote Monday at the Corner, one of the conservative magazine's blogs:

The fact is that, as a man of the hard Left, Obama is more comfortable with a totalitarian Islamic regime than he would be with a free Iranian society. In this he is no different from his allies like the Congressional Black Caucus and Bill Ayers, who have shown themselves perfectly comfortable with Castro and Chàvez. Indeed, he is the product of a hard-Left tradition that apologized for Stalin and was more comfortable with the Soviets than the anti-Communists (and that, in Soros parlance, saw George Bush as a bigger terrorist than bin Laden).

Because of obvious divergences (inequality for women and non-Muslims, hatred of homosexuals) radical Islam and radical Leftism are commonly mistaken to be incompatible. In fact, they have much more in common than not, especially when it comes to suppression of freedom, intrusiveness in all aspects of life, notions of "social justice," and their economic programs ....

The key to understanding Obama, on Iran as on other matters, is that he is a power-politician of the hard Left : He is steeped in Leftist ideology, fueled in anger and resentment over what he chooses to see in America's history, but a "pragmatist" in the sense that where ideology and power collide (as they are apt to do when your ideology becomes less popular the more people understand it), Obama will always give ground on ideology (as little as circumstances allow) in order to maintain his grip on power ....

Obama has a preferred outcome here, one that is more in line with his worldview, and it is not victory for the freedom fighters. He is hanging as tough as political pragmatism allows, and by doing so he is making his preferred outcome more likely. That's not weakness, it's strength — and strength of the sort that ought to frighten us.

This went a little far, even for the National Review. So its editor, Rich Lowry, responded, "Obama surely would rather have a free Iran than a dictatorial, anti-American one."

McCarthy disagreed, writing back to Lowry, "As between freedom and dictatorship, in principle Obama is fine with dictatorship -- we are seeing less and less freedom in our own country, and I believe Obama (who is dirigiste by nature) values stability over the rambunctiousness of a free society."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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