President Obama this evening released a statement saying Mubarak’s speech tonight to the Egyptian people, in which he ceded some powers to his vice president, did not go far enough. Here’s an excerpt
The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient. Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy, and it is the responsibility of the government to speak clearly to the Egyptian people and the world. The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity.
Obama says Mubarak lacked clarity, which is certainly true. But how much clarity does the above statement have itself? It looks like Obama is back on he side of the protestors, looking for an “immediate” transfer of power. But who knows for sure. And this after the White House has said it doesn’t want to interfere in the process.
The White House response to this – really its first sustained overseas crisis – has been chaotic. We’ve sent varying signals about what we want, vacillating with the ebb and flow of the crowd in Tahrir Square.
Would that this be a teaching moment for the administration so that when there is a crisis facing us, we will have a firm, understandable response. I fear that it will not be.