Does Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi desire to become a dictator...or another Abraham Lincoln?
Did that question make you burst out laughing? If so, please be prepared for an even bigger laugh when you watch Atlantic editor Steve Clemons expend brain cells while struggling to figure out the answer to that question in his column. So laughable are the efforts of Clemons trying to come up with what to even slightly aware people is the obvious answer that you might need an oxygen mask due to an inability to catch a breath:
At this point, we really don't know if President Morsi is actually planning to install himself as what Nobel Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei has called a "new pharaoh" -- or whether he has committed to an inclusive democratic vision for Egypt which he believes requires extraordinary measures, much like those Abraham Lincoln took while manipulating pols of his day, procuring votes through patronage and threat.
"We?" What's this "we" bit, Steve? Oh, and Clemons gets even funnier when he contends that Morsi is using "highly inclusive" rhetoric while distancing himself from the Muslim Brotherhood:
The fact is that while Morsi has declared himself, at least for the moment, the maker of law, the implementer of law, and the overseer of himself who makes the law, his rhetoric is highly inclusive. He has frustrated many in the Muslim Brotherhood by not moving to establish more of a theocratic state and not moving against other of the newly established political parties and movements in the country.
And now yet more head scratching from Clemons:
Is Morsi the kind of leader who will aggrandize total power and then liberalize like a George Washington or Abraham Lincoln?
You sure do know how to pose the tough questions, Steve. May I send out a lifeline to the Atlantic editorial board in order to figure out the answer?
Ultimately, Clemons says it might not be so bad even if Morsi does decide to (GASP!) become a dictator because checks and balances in Egypt, including street protests, will place limits on his power:
The public's interests are not well served by giving Morsi the benefit of the doubt. The public should protest and should remind him from whence power in the nation is really derived. People should demand their rights; should demand a non-corrupt and fair judiciary; an impartial police and security apparatus. But these things will not happen because Morsi is a benign or generous leader or has a vision of how to fairly evolve and develop the power of other branches of government not under his control.
These judges and their institutions; and then legislators; and perhaps generals must engage and secure their place in the democratic government equation. Indeed for Morsi to become a great leader and deliver on democracy and the successful transition from a dark era to a better one for Egypt, he needs to continue to challenge other weak or rotten sectors of society and should at the same time welcome the institutional battles that will ultimately limit his power.
Yup! Morsi could embrace forces that place limits on his power. This could happen but only in a Steve Clemons Bizarro World.
The best analysis of Clemon's Morsi fantasy comes from a commenter to his column who is an Egyptian Coptic Christian:
As an Egyptian and a member of the Coptic minority in Egypt, I find myself appalled and frightened that such far fetched analyses are published and are quoted by some to be expert opinions. The writer does not to be relying on sound sources or is up to date to the current events. His most outrageous claim is:
" ... his rhetoric is highly inclusive. He has frustrated many in the Muslim Brotherhood by not moving to establish more of a theocratic state and not moving against other of the newly established political parties and movements in the country. At a public level, Morsi says he is acting on behalf of all Egyptians -- not just those who are tied to the Brothers"
I am not sure how this writer came to such conclusion. Few days ago after he made his decree and after the public outcry against him and his party, this president called his supporters to a presidential palace and addressed them using religious allegories that likened himself to the prophet of Islam and likened his opposition to the infidels that fought him in the early ages of Islam. He has done nothing but alienate anybody and everybody that is not associated with the muslim brotherhood. He has replaced key government figures by figures from his own part REGARDLESS of qualifications or capabilities. He has alienated the different religious minorities in Egypt by allowing for forced relocation, theft and robbery of business and killings of members of those minorities with no repercussions. In fact, I would go as far as saying in many instances the muslim brotherhood were directly or indirectly involved in instigating the violence.
I wonder how many writers in the past have likened history's most notorious dictators to some of history's well regarded leaders using such superficial analyses and inaccurate facts. Many in Egypt have anticipated this happening; all it takes is just to review the history of the muslim brotherhood since their inception and the history of the different movements that spun off of them.