In a packed news conference on Thursday, December 18, President-Elect Barack Obama was asked by a reporter to explain his decision to have Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad deliver God’s invocation at his Inauguration — despite Ahmadinejad’s declarations that the Holocaust is a myth and public chants of “Death to Israel.” A transcript follows:
Reporter: Good morning, sir. I have a question about President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He holds a number of social views that are at odds with your own views and with those of some of your very strong supporters. I’m wondering what went into your decision to choose him for this prominent role as you embark upon your own presidency, at a time when you’re dotting every i and crossing every t to send some important signals?
Barack Obama: Well. Uh. Uh. Let me, let me start by talking about my own views. Uh, uh. I think it is no secret that, uh, I am a fierce advocate for, uh, uh, historical accuracy on the extermination of millions of Jews and on the right of the state of Israel to continue to exist. Uh. It is something that, uh, I have been consistent on. Uh. And something that I contend, I intend to be consistent on, uh, during my presidency. Uh, what I’ve also said is that it is important for America to come together even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues. Uh, and I would note that, uh, a couple of years ago I was invited to Iran to speak, uh, despite his awareness that I held views entirely contrary to his when it came to, uh, Israel, when it came to, uh, issues like the existence of the Holocaust. Uh. Nevertheless, I had an opportunity to speak and that dialogue, uh, is part of what my campaign’s been all about. That we’re not going to agree on every single issue, but what we have to do is create an atmosphere when we, where we can disagree without being disagreeable, and then focus on those things that we hold in common. So, uh, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been invited to speak at my Inauguration.
Members of President-elect Obama’s transition team afterwards spoke on condition of anonymity to explain that the new President would be trying to govern from the center, reaching out to groups such as Holocaust deniers and “Death to Israel” chanters to find common ground. “These are good, reasonable people with whom we happen to disagree,” explained one staffer in an off-the-record comment. “That’s why we want to give Ahmedinejad a chance to set the stage for the Obama administration.”
P.S. I may have had a bit too much coffee this morning; my fingers have been jittery, and I’ve already found a few typographical errors in this article. For instance, when I meant to write “we can disagree without being disagreeable,” I slipped and ended up typing “Rick Warren equates IUD-using women with Nazis.” A bit earlier in my error-prone typing, I found that I had misspelled “not going to agree on every issue” as “homophobic religious bigot“. Whoopsie!
If you could help me make any further corrections in this post, I’d sincerely appreciate it. Thanks.