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Yesterday, President Obama was questioned by a reporter named Major Garrett on the recent agreement with Iran. The President – correctly, in my view – demonstrated little patience for a question that was either not asked in good faith or simply not very smart. The first part of the rambling question was just plain insulting, insinuating  that the President did not care about four Americans being held in Iranian jails,.

Looking to the transcript, I see that the question was:

Major Garrett: As you well know, there are four Americans in Iran – three held on trumped up charges according to your administration, one, whereabouts unknown. Can you tell the country, sir, why you are content, with all of the fanfare around this [nuclear] deal to leave the conscience of this nation, the strength of this nation, unaccounted for, in relation to these four Americans?
And last week, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said under no circumstances should there be any relief for Iran in terms of ballistic missiles or conventional weapons. It was perceived that that was a last-minute capitulation in these negotiations, making the Pentagon feel you’ve left the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff hung out to dry. Could you comment?

The President, frankly, ripped Garrett a new one and properly so, telling him he “should know better.”  I know that if I asked a question in such a rambling, quasi-coherent way in court, I would certainly be upbraided by a judge.  You see, “Major” is this reporter’s given name, just like mine is Karim.  It is not a military rank that he earned and as far as I know, Garrett has never served in the military.

For people to use their positions to demonstrate such utter disrespect for the office of the President of the United States is something I’ve never seen like this before (and hope I never see again).  I remember a member of the House of Representatives interrupting the State of he Union Speech to accuse the President of being a “liar.”  Unheard of.



That representative, Joe Wilson of South Carolina, was at one time a member of the South Carolina Senate and in 2000 was one of only seven state senators to vote to keep the Confederate flag on the capitol grounds in Columbia.  “The Confederate heritage is very honorable” he explained.  “Heritage,” not racism. Sure, Joe.

The press, of course, must demand answers from our elected officials.  Unfortunately, we’ve entered an era where reporters too often see themselves more as entertainers than journalists and think their question deserves more attention than the answer.  So it was with Garrett.

The problem is one of respect.  We live in a time when an mayor in the State of Washington can call the First lady a “gorilla face” and the President a “monkey man” then refuse to resign and explain, presumably with a straight face, that if he did “that’s admitting I’m racist and I’m not.”  Of course not.

How can we expect people in other countries to respect us when so many of us show no respect – and outright race-based hostility- for the President we’ve elected twice?

And, by the way, Garrett, as far as “last minute capitulations” which “hang the Joint Chiefs out to dry” are concerned, some knowledgeable people do not see it that way at all :

But a number of close observers said the language in the agreement dealing with the arms embargo will go a long way to keep Iran’s military ambitions in check — at least for now. And it will help ensure that Saudi Arabia, Israel and other U.S. allies in the region that are buying American arms in record numbers maintain a significant edge.“We ought to be able to judge Iran’s behavior in the region and beyond and if there are reasons to put back on the [arms] embargo,” Pickering said.“I am surprised the Iranians agreed to it,” said Ben Moores, a defense analyst at IHS Janes, an international security consulting firm in Britain.

In legalese?  Your question, Major, assumed facts not in evidence.  It was disrespectful.  It was an act of grandstanding.  The President was kind to say “you should know better.”  I wonder if you do or you are simply reflective of a society too filled with disrespect for this President, and in general.


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