In spite of the ferocious spinning done by both the Right and the Left, especially on blogs, recent reactions to the visits and outrageous statements of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, demonstrate that Americans have more in common with each other than is often thought.
I've never been much of an Anderson Cooper fan. But when he interviewed Ahmadinejad the other day, he refused to take any stuff. He asked the Iranian leader about his absurd claim that the International Atomic Energy Agency hadn't found his country to be guilty of violating international accords by developing technology needed for nuclear weaponry--something hard for the IAEA to do, since Ahmadinejad's government won't allow inspectors access to their enrichment facilities. Ahmadinejad tried to dodge it, but Cooper pressed the issue. With a smile, Ahmadinejad asked if Cooper was simply reflecting the position of the US government. No, said Cooper, unlike Iran, in the United States, we have a free press.
Cooper, in his interview, as was true of a number of US foreign policy scholars who met with Ahmadinejad under the auspices of the Council on Foreign Relations, also called the Iranian to account for his asinine assertion that the Holocaust never happened.
When Chavez ambled around New York City to criticize the President of the United States, Democratic congresspersons Charles Rangel and Nancy Pelosi condemned both the Venezuelan and his American hosts. Americans have every right to challenge their Presidents' policies. And of course, the leader of a foreign nation is allowed to make critical comments at the United Nations. But to come into the US and do so or for groups within our country to give aid and comfort to such lying thugs is unconscionable. Kudos to Rangel and Pelosi for saying so!
An old song from the Fifties, Honey Hush, starts out with the immortal words, "Come into this house, stop all that yakity yak." That's precisely the message that Americans of all stripes seemed to be giving two troublemaking foreign presidents last week. That was good!
(By the way, if the United States and the rest of the West weren't addicted to oil, do you think anybody would give a rip about what Mahmoud and Hugo have to say? Without oil money in their coffers they would be consigned to the sidelines of history where they belong.)