Thursday, February 10, 2011

President Hosni Mubarak's Speech Today Mocks the Means and Ends of the Masses Commited to Egypt's Democratic Revolution

From a pharaonic president at the apex of pyramidal power in a “bully praetorian regime,” an exquisite rhetorical and symptomatic exhibition of pathological narcissism, xenophobic nationalism, condescending paternalism, and preening megalomania.

Consider, for example:
pathological narcissism: What I have actually deployed the effort in this country for more than 60 years during the days of peace and war. [….] Like the youth of Egypt today, I was a young man as well when I joined the military and when I pledged loyalty to the nation and sacrificed to the nation. I spent my life defending Egypt’s land and sovereignty. I saw its wars, its defeats, and victories. I lived days of occupation and frustration and days of liberation. Those were the best days. The best day of my life is when I raised the flag of Egypt over the Sinai. And when I flew planes. There was no day when I was affected or I gave into foreign pressures. I respect. I professed peace and I worked for Egypt’s stability and peace and I worked for Egypt’s progress and the progress of its people. My aim was never to seek a force and take power. I believe that the majority of Egyptian people know who is Hosni Mubarak and it pains me what has been expressed by some people from my own country. [….] Once again, I would like to say that I live for the sake of this nation.
xenophobic nationalism: I would like to tell you as the president of the republic, I am not embarrassed to listen to the Youth of my country and to respond to them. However, the main embarrassment and what is wrong and things that I will not accept ever is to listen to the talks coming from abroad, whichever it’s coming from or for whatever reason or pretexts or excuses. [....] To protect its responsibility and Egypt will prevail above anybody and everybody.
condescending paternalism: I am addressing you today with a speech from my heart. A speech of a father to his sons and daughters. [….] The current time is not about me. The situation is not about Hosni Mubarak.
preening megalomania: I express my commitment to this and I express a similar pledge and commitment to carry on — do my responsibility to protect the constitution, the interests of the people, until a transfer of power and responsibility is handed to whoever is elected by the electorate next September in fair and free elections that will be guaranteed with transparency and freedom.This is the pledge that I made before God and the nation. And I will protect this pledge until together we take Egypt to the safety, to the shore of safety. I have expressed plans to get out of this crisis and also to implement the demands of people within the constitution’s legitimacy and in a way that will achieve stability of our society, the demand of its sons and also at the same time put forward a framework agreed for a peaceful transfer of power through a responsible dialogue amongst all the forces of society and with all — with most degree of frankness and transparency.I put forward this vision, committed to my responsibility to get the country out of this very difficult situation and I will carry on to win it, first one after the other, one hour after the other, and looking forward to the assistance of everyone who is eager for Egypt’s safety and stability. I put it forward to implement it. And these plans would be implemented within reason by our armed forces. [….] I face day after day a peaceful transition of power will start from now to next September.

[And the speech in toto]

Update, courtesy of Silawa at The Arabist:

Tonight's speech by Mubarak is a reminder of how much the course of a revolution against an autocracy is shaped by the personal quirks of the autocrat. Here are a few thoughts from my end what calculations or miscalculations might have been going through Mubarak's head...

Tone-deafness: Mubarak genuinely thought that he could defuse the situation with a hat-tip to the protesters, and that his transfer of powers would satisfy the protesters. He may also have thought back to his Feb 2 address, where he stirred up some genuine sympathy and regained the initiative, and was trying to repeat the performance. However, he so badly mangled his speech, and struck such an arrogant tone, that he made things worse.

Mubarak projected arrogance and intransigence so as to call the bluffs of everyone -- the protesters, the Americans, and presumably now the military -- who are pushing him to leave. Maybe he allowed expectations to be raised, so as to make the blow fall that much harder. If you can't get rid of me after this, he is saying, then you can't get rid of me until I'm ready to go. Show your hand, or give up.

Worse is better:
Mubarak wanted to stir things up, to provoke a march on the palace and possibly trigger some violence. The regime had its greatest success undermining the uprising when the situation was at its most unstable. The return to normalcy on the other hand this week provided the opportunity for people to come together in the workplace, remember what they really dislike about the stagnant and corrupt status quo, and go on strike. So, he thought he might end the normalcy, rekindle fears of long-lasting anarchy, and put pressure on the demonstrators to quit with what concessions they have already won.


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