Most of America Still Disagrees with President McCain

Via Steve Benen, this CNN poll:

A new national poll suggests that that nearly three out of four Americans don’t want the U.S. directly intervene in the election crisis in Iran even though most Americans are upset by how the Iranian government has dealt with protests over controversial election results.

More than eight in ten questioned in the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, released Monday, think the election results released by the Iranian government were a fraud, with just one in ten believing the results were accurate. But only three in ten respondents say they are personally outraged by the results, with another 55 percent upset by not outraged.

Most Americans approve of how President Obama’s handled the situation. And 74 percent think the U.S. government should not directly intervene in the post-election crisis, with one out of four feeling that Washington should openly support the demonstrators who are protesting the election results.

Consistently, some the sanest commentary on Iran, at least from my perspective, came from Daniel Larison. With that in mind, here is Larison explaining why President Obama dropped the ball on the Honduras.






39 replies
  1. 1
    Scott de B. says:

    Larison is, unfortunately, wrong on Honduras. His rationalizations there sound a lot like the rationalizations behind the CIA coup of Allende.

  2. 2
    Persia says:

    Yeah, the ‘rule of law’ usually doesn’t involve the military coming in one day and taking away the President’s toys.

  3. 3
    Cat Lady says:

    Can we just stipulate that the title of the last post can be used for everything wingnuts say about everything? FOSAFSN. It will make responding to their daily poutrage easier.

  4. 4
    NonyNony says:

    @Persia:

    I’m still not getting what’s going on in Honduras – reporting on this has been horrible. From what I can tell, the President tried to do something unconstitutional that the Supreme Court told him not to do. When he did it anyway, the Supreme Court ordered the military to arrest him over it.

    Seems very weird to my eyes but I have no idea how the Honduran Constitution works. It could be that this is exactly how things are supposed to work in Honduras. It could be that it’s a horrible miscarriage of justice. But I can’t find a single goddamn article where someone goes through the Honduran Constitution and explains why the Supreme Court is wrong or the executive is wrong or the military is wrong for listening to the Court. Everyone is screeching “coup” and no one is giving any context. And I know far, far less about Honduras than I know about, say, Iran, so I don’t have the context to know when people are bullshitting on this.

  5. 5
    Xanthippas says:

    I like Larison, but I think he’s wrong this time. For all his talk of the Hondurans handling their own problem, he commits the same error that he accuses Obama’s critics on Iran of committing, of ignoring historical precedent, and he takes Obama’s comments out of context as a result. Obama has tried to have a light touch in Iran because of our history of supporting political instability against entrenched regimes that we disapprove of. In Honduras, we have a history of supporting entrenched regimes that we approve of, including supporting military coups to oust leftist, socialist or communist leaders. Which in fact is exactly what is happening here. So, if we are attempting to behave in a principled manner, why wouldn’t we express concern about the apparent coup in Honduras? Especially when it appears that many other South and Latin American nations disapprove of the move as well? That the arrest and exile of Zaleya might or might not be illegal, isn’t exactly a strong point in support of the coup. And regardless of the legality or wisdom of the act, one must completely ignore the history of right-wing military coups in Latin and South America to even begin to think that this one was a good idea.

  6. 6
    sgwhiteinfla says:

    To be honest there have been very smart people who I respect on opposite sides of this Honduras situation. I think any time the military is involved in removing a President it just has bad optics. But if their constitution provided for that kind of a contingency when the President is deemed to be doing something illegal then I guess its not really a coup. I can honestly say that this is one issue that I am VERY confused about. But there are a lot of right wingers applauding the “coup” or whatever it is (not talking about Larison because i respect him) and that kinda makes me lean the other way.

  7. 7
    Walker says:

    This is entirely OT, but I just discovered something weird about Balloon Juice. I am reading this from an iPhone, following a link from the RSS field. It appears that the most recent post at BJ is always mobile friendly. It has no ads, the text fits the screen without resizing, and the comment buttons are large enough for my fingers.

    However, this is only true of the most recent post. Once a new post appears (and the page is reloaded), it reverts to a normal webpage with ads that must be resized.

  8. 8

    I have to disagree pretty strongly with Larison on this one.

    He says, “Obama withheld judgment about the legality of what had happened in Iran. In Honduras, he just knows that what the military did was illegal, despite far stronger evidence that it was legal and a result of the proper functioning of their constitutional system.” I’d like to see the evidence. It’s hard to see that a military coup is somehow better than any other possible outcome here, so I’d want to see chapter and verse from Honduras’ constitution that empowers the military to take over the country in a situation like this.

    “U.S. intervention in Honduras has been no less than it has been in Iran. Indeed, it has been far greater. At least six times in the 20th century beginning in 1907, U.S. forces were deployed in Honduras.”

    No question about it – and every time, it’s been on the side of the military or of right wing juntas, and on the side of the United Fruit Co. and other American corporate interests. While I’m sure Hondurans would be hostile to an actual U.S. military intervention, it’s hard to see them being similarly upset if we have the sense to condemn the same sorts of coups we used to support.

    Larison continues: “The President said that a “terrible precedent” would be set if Zelaya was not allowed to return to office. Yes, there would be a terrible precedent that Presidents cannot break the law and get away with it; there would be a terrible precedent that the rule of law prevailed; there would be a terrible precedent that Hondurans coped with their own political crisis without having to depend on anyone else to fix their problems for them.”

    While Zelaya has been open in his desire to overturn the term limits on his office, the term that he is legally entitled to doesn’t expire until January. As far as I can tell, he is still, by law, the President of Honduras.

    And most important, it’s hard to see where a military coup constitutes “Hondurans cop[ing] with their own political crisis” in any meaningful sense. To me, that looks like the Honduran military preventing the people of Honduras from coping with their own political crisis.

    And that has often been the point of Latin American military coups: to veto popular solutions to a country’s problems.

  9. 9
    PeakVT says:

    This seems to be a case of having to work with a stupid aspect of the constitution, kind of like US still has to work with the electoral college. The military legally could intervene in Honduras, but that needs to be changed.

  10. 10
    sparky says:

    Larison is wrong. Badly. A coup is not a device that preserves the rule of law. It does, however, preserve the rule of the oligarchy.

  11. 11
    Rey says:

    I’m sure John McCain will be firing up the grill for the weekend. He can sooth his bruised ego with some babyback ribs. Yummm..

  12. 12
    thucydides says:

    For a so-called realist, Larison knows precious little about history apparently. This could be the first time in the past 100 years that a “leftist” deposed in what seems to be a right-wing coup in Latin America has gotten any kind of rhetorical support from an American administration. That, in and of itself, could represent a crucial (and, from a realist perspective, much better) realignment of American posture in Latin America. As far as I can tell, Obama is not advocating for any kind of intervention in Honduras. He is simply paying homage to democratic process in a region where Americans have traditionally embodied the height of hypocrisy. Obama is playing this, as he did the Iranian situation, like a virtuoso.

  13. 13
    Morbo says:

    What all of the commenters here don’t understand, and what Larison gets right, is that any position taken by Hugo Chavez is wrong. This is most notably exemplified by his declaration of National Puppy Day in Venezuela which led to round condemnations of puppies from Larison and his fellow AmCon contributors.

  14. 14
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Walker:

    Hmm. Works fine on my iPhone, it seems the same whether reloaded or whatever. The only thing missing for me is the “reply” arrow, so were I using mobile now for example I wouldn’t be able to do this @ thing above.

    Re: Larison:

    Yes, there would be a terrible precedent that Presidents cannot break the law and get away with it;

    Presumably he supported a military coup for Bush and Cheney breaking the law then.

    Right.

    I mean independent of whether he thought that they did break any law (I would guess that he didn’t think so) I bet “send in the military to take over” wouldn’t have been his response even he had.

    It’s funny how frightening “President John McCain” is even in make believe. Shudder.

  15. 15
    JenJen says:

    Umm, speaking of McCain, has anyone seen this unbelievably bigoted blog post by Robert Stacey McCain?

    Here’s the intro… good luck stomaching the rest; my jaw is still agape:

    “It takes small people to stoop this low.” Says Professor William Jacobson regarding Wonkette’s despicable treatment of Sarah Palin’s year-old son, Trig. And I would amend the professor’s sentiments only to improve them by saying, “It takes gay men to stoop this low.”

    http://rsmccain.blogspot.com/2.....s-low.html

  16. 16
    Persia says:

    @NonyNony: I hadn’t realized the Supreme Court had been involved, which does complicate things.

  17. 17
    Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse says:

    McCain is batshit ^3.

    Ken Layne is straight and married (facts McCain couldn’t be bothered to check out before he emitted that screed) , but because all gay men are EVUHL cocksuckers too scared of their moms to be EVUHL motherfuckers, therefore Ken Layne is gay, or at least an EVUHL cocksucker.

    But I’ll bet Layne’s laughing his ass off at that maroon.

    Ken Layne is also a damn fine musician. Buy his CD and his other CD.

  18. 18

    The Honduran constitution specifically allows for the removal of a President who does something illegal. The process for removing the President is unclear to me so I don’t know if this was done in a legal manner or not. However, it is clear the new “regime” is attempting to stifle dissent and limit news coverage. Apparently all international news channels have been shut down.

    Insofar as Larison’s argument goes he doesn’t really make a compelling case because he incorrectly states the facts as to our history with Honduras, although I do think Obama has tread less carefully w.r.t. Honduras. Doing so gives his critics an opening for criticism. But I haven’t heard any of the saber rattling one would expect from previous adminstrations if the regime was one it had no sympathy.

  19. 19
    JenJen says:

    @Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse: Earlier, the wingnuts were slamming the shit out of Ana Marie Cox for the Wonkette piece. Most of them haven’t bothered to correct that, but then again, that wouldn’t surprise anyone around here.

    Don’t you think he’s just trying to smear Ken Layne, though? And to someone as completely unhinged as RS McCain, isn’t “OMGZ TEH GAY!!11!” about the best he can do?

  20. 20
    b-psycho says:

    @The Grand Panjandrum:

    The Honduran constitution specifically allows for the removal of a President who does something illegal.

    …by the military?

    Either Larison somehow knows more about their constitution than anyone running media coverage has let on, or he’s just being deliberately contrarian to make a point.

  21. 21
    Evinfuilt says:

    What the military in Honduras looks bad, but in reality it was legal, unlike what the President was trying to do.

    A General was not suddenly in charge of the country, but the head of their Congress.

    This “coup” was really nothing more than impeachment with guns. Maybe the next Dictator to be will learn to not go against their own Constitution and Court system.

    Or maybe, they’ll learn how to impeach without guns.

  22. 22
    Xanthippas says:

    Either Larison somehow knows more about their constitution than anyone running media coverage has let on, or he’s just being deliberately contrarian to make a point.

    Larison says there is “far stronger evidence” that the coup is legal, but the last time I checked removing a President from office did not involve blasting protesters with tear gas, shutting down TV and radio networks, and in general stifling any kind of dissent regarding the “legal” removal.

  23. 23
    Xanthippas says:

    This “coup” was really nothing more than impeachment with guns. Maybe the next Dictator to be will learn to not go against their own Constitution and Court system.

    I find it hard to define as a “dictator” someone who had not finished the term they were elected to, and who was attempting to hold an illegal but non-binding referendum. Applying the principle of Occam’s razor to the evidence at hand, it seems that conservatives who are opposed to a fairly unpopular President’s populist policies, seized an opportunity created by his over-reaching to remove him from office. This wasn’t a “legal” maneuver, it was a political one. They are gambling that there won’t be enough dissent over the removal to threaten them internally, and that other Latin American nations (and us) will simply have to accept it.

  24. 24
    Comrade Dread says:

    Larison is, unfortunately, wrong on Honduras.

    I disagree. We should stay out of it and not make statements supporting either side since neither side seems particularly innocent in this.

    It is an internal conflict between two branches of the Honduran government. As it stands, it seems that the President went beyond his office, the Court tried to check him, and he thumbed his nose at them. (Basically invoking the “Let the Court enforce their decision” Executive taunt.) Unfortunately for him, the military sided with the Court and was more than willing to enforce their order.

    Now, if the military does not allow the civilian successor (presumably the Vice President) take office and if they refuse to let the scheduled election take place, then yes, I would expect we should make a statement to the effect of condemning the suppression of Democracy.

    Larison says there is “far stronger evidence” that the coup is legal, but the last time I checked removing a President from office did not involve blasting protesters with tear gas, shutting down TV and radio networks, and in general stifling any kind of dissent regarding the “legal” removal.

    And I think you underestimate the personal loyalty some people would have to party and personality. Do you really think that some of the most rabid Republican supporters (especially the ones already prone to violence) would have accepted Bush and Cheney and their cabinet being removed from office in 2006 and seeing Nancy Pelosi sworn in without resorting to shenanigans?

  25. 25
    LD50 says:

    So… this isn’t great news… for McCain?

  26. 26
    Xanthippas says:

    Now, if the military does not allow the civilian successor (presumably the Vice President) take office and if they refuse to let the scheduled election take place, then yes, I would expect we should make a statement to the effect of condemning the suppression of Democracy.

    I think you give them too much credit. The military would’ve never taken this action with the backing of conservatives who are opposed to Zaleya. They saw their chance to remove him and they took it. Yes, as far as Latin American coups go, this one is relatively mild. But what appears to be most concerning to other Latin American leaders, who have universally condemned this coup, is that instead of relying on the political process to sort out the mess, conservatives have reached for that old saw the military to resolve the matter in the most direct fashion possible. This is not an advancement for the cause of democracy.

    And I think you underestimate the personal loyalty some people would have to party and personality.

    I don’t underestimate it. I just don’t question their right to protest an illegal coup, where as the coup participants do.

  27. 27
    bago says:

    Robert Stacy McCain is projecting with a thousand lumens. His attempts at psychoanalyzing SA goons are hilarious.

  28. 28
    Mumphrey says:

    Damn, damn, damn.

    I lived in Honduras from 1994 to 1996 (I’m not Honduran myself, though), and I wrote a long and (I hope) thoughtful piece about what’s going on in Honduras and the damned site seemed to crash just as I sent it, and I think it ate it. Now I have to try to write the whole damned thing again.

    All right, here we go:

    I don’t know what’s going on down there. The news outlets here don’t seem too eager to follow this story, since Michael Jackson died without a will, and that’s soooo much more important than the welfare of 7 or 8 million Hondurans. I’ve heard from some of my friends, and they seem pretty down on Zelaya–one of them even hinting that he’s a dictator by comparing him to Chávez and even Castro. It’s true, I’m not down there, and I don’t know firsthand what Zelaya was doing overall (I think I understand pretty well about the referendum he was pushing that led to the golpe), but from all the trustworthy news outlets I’ve read or heard, he was really trying to do something to help the poorest people in Honduras. And that can still get people upset in a country where the leaders and movers and shakers have long tarred any kind of social welfare as socialism or even communism. Honduras got through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s without any wars, even as the 3 countries bordering it went through awful civil wars, and I think the haves have exploited this legitimate fear of instability and war and upheaval to make any social progress unacceptable.

    I think a lot of people didn’t like Zelaya for upsetting the order of things, and this referendum–it wasn’t even binding: it almost served as a kind of opinion poll in a country where a lot of people don’t have telephones–made for a convenient hook to hang this coup on.

    It saddens me that people I know and respect are comparing Zelaya to Chávez, much less Castro, but I suspect that the people who own and run the news outlets down there, who often own other big businesses, and who would stand to lose somewhat if Zelaya could bring about any kind of economic and social progress, are trying to make him seem threatening to middle class Hondurans, who are the ones I know.

    One person I know even told me that the people demonstrating for Zelaya in Tegucigalpa aren’t even Hondurans, but Salvadorans and Nicaraguans shipped in by Zelaya’s “leftist” allies. I know and respect this woman, but I don’t believe what she says, since she lives on the North Coast, 200 miles from Teguz, and–and I am guessing here–hasn’t seen these marches firsthand or spoken to the demonstrators.

    Zelaya’s non-binding referendum was to have happened on Sunday, and I do know that the Congress only passed the law outlawing it last Thursday, which just kind of smells to me, since Zelaya’s insistence on going ahead with it was the pretext for the golpe.

    The real problem here, I think, is that it’s so hard to find out what’s going on down there. Our news outlets have been negligent, and I don’t trust the Honduran papers to be unbiased. So I have to make assumptions and guesses, which is always risky. My friends could all be right and I could be wrong. But as a rule, I don’t trust armies that overthrow elected presidents, the governments that take over after armies do that, or the newspapers who take the armies’ sides.

  29. 29
    Mumphrey says:

    One other thing I’ll throw in. Someone I know in Honduras told me that while Congress can change the constitution by a simple majority vote, the Constitution specifically forbids amending the terms of the president, and the one term limit–ever.

    This is what Zelaya was going to have the referendum about: whether or not to call a constitutional convention to work on a new constitution. If it had passed, it would have no binding, but it would have at least gotten people talking about it.

    I think having anything in a constitution off limits to any kind of amendment is a bad idea. There should always be at least the possibility of changing things; that’s why our own Constitution has worked so well so far…

  30. 30
    Funkhauser says:

    The typo

    dropped the ball on the Honduras

    is funny insofar as Honduras translates to “depths.”

    And no, I don’t know what’s going on there either.

  31. 31
    Mumphrey says:

    It’s funny; I’ve heard many Americans call Honduras “the Honduras”. Maybe it just sounds like there should be a “the” in there before the name, like the Netherlands or the Gambia or the way people used to say “the Lebanon” and “the Argentine”…

  32. 32
    Steve S. says:

    Larison, who I usually find enlightening, is today posing as something of an expert on Honduran law. While pointing out some of Zelaya’s constitutional flaws he entirely ignores the following from the Honduran Constitution:

    Article 3: Any assumption of public office by force of arms is illegitimate.
    Articles 65-110: Freedom of the media, assembly, rights to due process, etc.
    Articles 182-183: Habeas corpus.
    Article 187: Rights mentioned above may be suspended by Presidential decree under certain conditions.
    Article 245: President is commander in chief of the armed forces.
    Article 278: Armed forces must obey President’s commands.
    Article 311: Judges forbidden from participating in partisan political activities.
    Also, there appears to be no provision for the Supreme Court to have the army forcibly remove the President from office.

    But other than this breathtaking hypocrisy and shameless fronting for right wing propaganda, Larison is spot on.

  33. 33
    Paul Crowley says:

    The Wikipedia article on the Honduras crisis is currently pretty sympathetic to the Larison point of view – would be good to get some of the people here critical of that view, especially Mumphrey and Steve S, editing that article!

  34. 34
    Dayv says:

    When is a coup not a coup but only a “coup?”

    When Daniel Larison likes the outcome.

  35. 35
    Dayv says:

    Mumphrey said:

    Zelaya’s non-binding referendum was to have happened on Sunday, and I do know that the Congress only passed the law outlawing it last Thursday…

    Quoted for emphasis. This situation is much less simple than some would have us believe.

  36. 36
    Mumphrey says:

    I thank Paul Crowley for his confidence in me, but I don’t feel like I’d really be competent to edit the article; I just don’t know enough about what’s going on down there. A lot of what I wrote is what I’ve cobbled together from things I’ve read and heard, and some of it even from assumptions based on lack of evidence where it seemed there should have been some–that is, on suspicious gaps.

    I really wish the U.S. press would do a better job of ferretting out what’s going on down there. But then, I guess that would be an unseemly burden on them; it isn’t like it’s their job or anything…

  37. 37
    Mumphrey says:

    Don’t know if anybody here is still following this, but it looks like the new Honduran “government” has just suspended some of the constitutionally guaranteed civil rights. Only “temporarily”, of course, but we’ll have to see where this leads, I guess…
    Here’s a link (in Español):
    http://www.hondudiario.com/H/c.....s-dí-más

  38. 38
    Morbo says:

    @Mumphrey: Al Giordano reports on this topic in English. I see that Larison calls this suspension a “blunder.” He’s also clearly defensive about it as he pre-empts by name any discussion of Giordano’s “party line.” This seems to be a pretty clear example of seeing what one wishes to see (on both sides).

  39. 39
    Mumphrey says:

    So I see now on CNN that some asshole is trying to tiptoe right up to the line beyond which Zelaya really is a bad guy and was “illegally” trying to stay in office beyond his term, which is not true, and that the golpistas are really the good guys. Says Obama might be making a mistake in backing Zelaya. I don’t know, though, when the guy compares Zelaya to Nixon firing Archibald Cox, maybe he’s gone over the line.
    I don’t know if the asshole really does think that Zelaya is a big, bad leftiy who’ll turn Honduras into a Stalinist hellhole or whether he just doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Then again, it wouldn’t defy the odds to assume both…
    I wish somebody would write about this again on the front page. This really is a big deal, here.

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