President Obama said late yesterday that "when President Mubarak addressed the Egyptian people tonight, he pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity. I just spoke to him after his speech and I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise."
Obama was endorsing the protesters' demands for change and greater democracy — but not their call for Mubarak to step down.
This morning's lead editorial in The Washington Post says that "as so often has happened during the Arab uprising of the past several weeks, the Obama administration on Friday appeared to be behind events." Instead of urging Mubarak to institute reforms, the Post's editorial board says, the U.S. should be cutting ties with the Egyptian president.
For another view, see this statement from Rep. Thaddeus G. McCotter (R-MI), who chairs the House Republican Policy Committee. He doesn't get specific about how much explicit support the U.S. should show for Mubarak, but writes that "the Egyptian demonstrations are not the equivalent of Iran's 2009 Green Revolution. The Egyptian demonstrations are the reprise of Iran's 1979 radical revolution. Thus, America must stand with her ally Egypt to preserve an imperfect government capable of reform; and prevent a tyrannical government capable of harm."
But McCotter doesn't speak for everyone on the American political right. Jim Geraghty writes on National Review's The Campaign Spot blog that:
"It was shameful for Obama to hesitate and dawdle before endorsing the Iranian protesters, and it creates the awkward precedent for the Obama administration speaking sooner, and more positively, about protests against the government of an ally. But in the end, why would an American president tout the virtues of a regime that shoots unarmed protesters? Let Mubarak fall. He's had his chance, and he has failed the Egyptian people."
Nothing is simple when it comes to the Middle East. But we wonder:
(For the record, that isn't a scientific survey aimed at gauging public opinion. It's a question to stimulate debate and conversation in the comments thread. We'll keep it "open" until midnight Sunday.) Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.