The Campaign Spot

Guess Who Said, ‘Ahmadinejad has a pretty sweet hipster style’?

Matt Yglesias, back on September 21, 2006:

I keep talking about this with people in real life, but it deserves a blog mention as well — Mahmoun [sic] Ahmadinejad has a pretty sweet hipster style. It all starts with a beard not unlike the one I and many of my twentysomething male friends sport. But it goes deeper. The man went without a tie to address the UN General Assembly. And I was in a bar where the TV was showing his interview with Anderson Cooper (it’s DC, these things happen) and while there was no sound, he certainly looked witty and charming. There was also this clip of him walking down some hallway shooting the sh** with Kofi Annan. It’s like diplomacy! Bush should try it. One gets the sense that he’s getting his stody red tie-wearing ass kicked this session by sundry third world goons and it’s really not a proud moment for the United States

Oh, I’m sure it was meant to be ironic or something. But in light of this scintillating analysis, the fact that Yglesias is comparing Ahmadinejad to Sarah Palin isn’t quite so surprising anymore.

UPDATE: Yglesias, April 2006:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is given to saying crazy stuff, but unlike Saddam, the Iranians have never waged war on their neighbors and the government hasn’t even “gassed its own people” or whatever other talking points you want to break out. Nor has Iran, to anyone’s knowledge, ever been involved in any terrorist attacks on American civilians.

That’s a pretty stunning statement, in light of mainstream media reports from just two years earlier:

After a bombing killed 19 U.S. airmen at a barracks in Saudi Arabia in 1996, the Clinton administration struck back by unmasking Iranian intelligence officers around the world, significantly disrupting Iranian-backed terrorism, according to a high-level U.S. official and a former top official who was serving at the time of the operation.

Undisclosed until now, Operation Sapphire took place in 1997. Though the bombers who struck the Khobar Towers barracks were mostly Saudis, U.S. investigators quickly determined that Iranian intelligence officials had trained and organized the plotters. The former U.S. official said Iran was intimidated enough by the U.S. counterspy operation that it stopped targeting Americans after the bombing.

The first public hint of the U.S. operation came last week, when Richard Clarke, White House counterterrorism chief for three administrations, told a bipartisan commission investigating the 9/11 attacks that the Clinton administration responded “against Iranian terrorism . . . at Khobar Towers with a covert action.”

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