The next major election happens on May 19, 2017, although to listen to the vast majority of mainstream media coverage you’d think the US Presidential election was still going on.
On May 19, 2017 Iranians go to the polls to ostensibly elect a president for their Islamic Republic. Of course, Iran being an Islamic Republic doesn’t hold fair, true, honest, and uninfluenced elections. The Iranian ballot will include only those candidates the Council of Guardians approves.
Whenever the mainstream media does get around to talking about the May elections in Iran, take note of how they use the words “moderate” and “hardliner”.
A Moderate, A Hardliner
It’s instructive to remember the media’s treatment of Hassan Rouhani. He was the Iranian candidate elected to the Iranian presidency in 2013. We were told Hassan Rouhani was “a rational actor” because Rouhani was a “moderate”. The mainstream media trends light on research so they may have bequeathed the title “moderate” upon Rouhani because he’s a member of what’s called the Moderation and Development Party.
Then again, back in 2013 Barack Obama was President. In 2013 the 1980s were still presumably calling Mitt Romney asking for their foreign policy back. And that liberal holy grail of coming to terms somehow with Iran seemed one step closer to fruition. The idea of a “moderate” Iranian president served as a media selling point for things that would follow. Like the Iran nuclear deal.
Less so that pesky little episode of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps taking US Navy personnel captive. Secretary of Personality John Kerry might have praised the way the Iranians handled America’s sons and daughters – were they abused while in Iranian captivity? – but fact is, rational moderate actors don’t detain foreign military personnel, extract confessions from them, and parade the spectacle on international television.
The Difference Between Rouhani and Ahmadinejad
Before Rouhani, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad served as Iranian President. Ahmadinejad wasn’t a moderate. Not even close. And the media told us so. He was a “hardliner”. So what’s the difference between Ahmadinejad and Rouhani?
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Or more accurately, the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Ahmadinejad was President from 2005 to 2009. Those years correspond to the peak years of George W. Bush derangement syndrome. Those were years in which Cindy Sheehan monetized her son’s combat death while Hollywood made movies that fantasized about George W. Bush’s assassination. Naturally, it fit that when Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005, no matter what, Ahmadinejad would be a hardliner.
Ahmadinejad served a second term from 2009 to 2013, corresponding to Obama’s first term. Go back and review media coverage surrounding Ahmadinejad those years. He was still cast in the role of hardliner. But Ahmadinejad didn’t make the news quite as often. Because Barack Obama had just won the Nobel Peace Prize and the American economy had just tanked. There was enough praise of Obama and enough Bush bashing still left in newsrooms that even the Iranian Green Movement (arguably the most visible, public anti-regime movement in Iran since the 1979 Revolution) and the brutal repression that followed barely made prime time.
Since Iran has term limits, Ahmadinejad couldn’t run again in 2013. So Rouhani ran instead and won overwhelmingly. Since Obama was President, and an Iran nuclear deal was forthcoming, the media gushed about Rouhani the moderate.
True, Rouhani was less unhinged than his predecessor. But a moderate by the standards of the Islamic Republic of Iran isn’t quite the same thing as a moderate almost anywhere else. An Iranian moderate is basically an Islamist that thinks stoning a rape victim to death is too severe – but has no problem flogging her in the public square as a more humane method of punishing her for her sins.
Watch How This Election Unfolds
The Iranians could run Barack Obama himself for their presidency and, because Donald Trump is President, the term hardliner will be used at every opportunity to describe the prospective Obama regime in Tehran.
In fact, the media’s moderate Rouhani is running for a second term in May so take note of often the media calls him a hardliner. Indeed, the same Rouhani the darlings in New York and the west coast dreamt of sipping lattes with and discussing Lolita will, in about a month or so, be cast as a modern day Hitlerian hardliner.
If the Iranian election turns controversial – riots in the streets circa 2009 for example – the media and Hollywood will come out comparing Trump to the hardliners in Iran. The same hardliners they called rational actors and ignored while Barack Obama negotiated a nuke deal with them.
No doubt a photo shopped image of President Trump dressed like an Ayatollah is waiting to be deployed on social media.
Image: By Reza Dehshiri – tasnimnews.com, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47545555