Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in trouble.
According to a recent New York Times article, he’s becoming increasingly isolated from the political scene at home.
His domestic policies have all backfired, resulting in a huge jump in foreclosures and a huge dip in the average Iranian’s ability to secure a bank loan. His allies are deserting him, with only the Ayatollah still giving wholehearted support and staving off whispers of impeachment.
His foreign policy, while gloriously Fonz-like in its disregard for those square international anti-proliferation treaties, has all but killed interest from much needed foreign investors (as well as, potentially, us all).
And how does Ahmadinejad respond, now that the average Iranian man-on-the-street is actually on the street? Well, he contends that he has an honest barber that would set him straight if the situation really was getting out of hand.
That’s right – the standard of living for 65 million people rides on a guy that makes his most important customer look like a Just for Men ad.
But does any of this sound familiar? The bumbling domestic policies that are more principled than practical, the popped-collar approach to foreign relations, the growing number of supporters disassociating themselves, the alarmingly clueless folksy charm? Does this remind you of anyone?
While our boy George lacks Ahmadinejad’s stylish, third world Mr. Roarke fashion sense, Bush has far more in common with Ahmadinejad than he does the Gordon Brown’s and Hu Jintao’s of the world.
Of course there are all the situational correlations: The latest wave of resignations at the White House has further dwindled Bush’s circle of true believers; the latest jobs report, released last Thursday, has been described by more than one economist as “incredibly bleak”, meaning our already flagging economy is in for more foreclosures and lending anxieties; and when it comes to cowboy politics, don’t forget who the poster-boy for swaggering, “shoot now, think never” foreign policy is.
But beyond the surface parallels, we find two very similar personalities.
They’re both extremely mindful of dogma. They both think the apocalypse will happen in their lifetime and that they, conveniently, belong to the chosen few who’ll be spared.
Circumstances or evidence rarely factor into their decision-making. Both have frequently told the UN where to stick it, and, on occasion, have stuck it there.
Both defer to older, shadier, cartoonishly evil men.
One begins to suspect that all the pent-up animosity between these two nations may just be a cover for something else. Something, perhaps, a bit more meaningful, hmm? Maybe all the hostage-taking and naval posturing compensates for something that neither leader knows exactly how to say.
Maybe, instead of careening into another regime change/nuclear holocaust, these two leaders should sit down and work out how they really feel about each other. I think they’d find that a little open-hearted diplomacy could lead to a fast friendship, and, in time, maybe even.love.
Oh, imagine the times they’d have! Tangoing awkwardly on E-Harmony commercials! Riding around Camp David on a bicycle built for two! Indefinitely detaining foreign dissidents without trial! What delight!
Remember, when we learn to respect each other’s dangerous, narrow-minded ideologies, we open ourselves up to a whole new world of sharing and warped nationalism.
Ryan Nowell is a junior English major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.