"the nadir of his presidency"

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What represents the rock-bottom of George W. Bush's tenure so far?

You can have three guesses–or 3,000–and I bet you'll never figure out what Daniel Pipes says it is:

Awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Muhammad Ali gratuitously celebrated a man profoundly opposed to Mr. Bush's own, his party's, and the country's principles.

Despite the hyperbole, this is a very interesting article (and I say that as someone who finds Ali an immensely interesting and on the whole positive figure in American society–even if he did kind of take a dive against Superman). Whole story here (via the great History News Network).

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  1. Jeez, and here I was raised to believe that a great man would have the ability to see qualities in a man with whom he otherwise disagreed.

    Not that I ever had Dubya confused with a great man or anything.

  2. Awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Muhammad Ali gratuitously celebrated a man profoundly opposed to Mr. Bush’s own, his party’s, and the country’s principles.

    Because as we know, all three are exactly the same.

  3. Don’t you have to fail spectacularly in some grave responsibility to get the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

  4. I always ponder how people can say Daniel Pipes isn’t a bigot when he writes bizarre screeds like this that can only be explained by an irrational hatred of the subject.

  5. and I say that as someone who finds Ali an immensely interesting and on the whole positive figure in American society

    I hate when people get all schoolmarmish or post a correction to an obvious typo, but the lead post should read better. I’m pretty sure I get your meaning, but that could use a little cleaning up.

  6. Awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Muhammad Ali gratuitously celebrated a man profoundly opposed to Mr. Bush’s own, his party’s, and the country’s principles.

    Oh, for the love of…

    The more and more I read from the Right these days, the sicker and sicker I feel. I don’t know what makes me more nauseous: the blind, unquestioning support of every despicable act this president and administration has done; or the inane and vitriolic character assassination of those who dare disagree with them, past or present.

    No, I don’t care if “the other side does it too.” The “other side” isn’t in power right now.

  7. If you are interested (as I was) in learning more about the Superman vs. Muhammad Ali issue, see here.

  8. Kal-el’s dust-up with The Greatest was at least more interesting than Daredevil’s meeting with Uri Geller:
    http://www.uri-geller.com/daredev.htm

  9. “He threw Malcolm X away, in the words of journalist Sunni Khalid, “like a pork chop.”

    I don’t care how you feel about the rest of the article – that’s funny.

  10. I especially enjoyed Pipes’ breathless revelation that Ali received an award from the Council on American-Islamic Relations! Not that!

    MP: If you want to read the comic itself, go here.

  11. As it becomes increasingly obvious that the Iraq War/Global Freedom Crusade is going to end up like the Vietnam War, the neocon right and the dead enders amond the liberal hawks are spitting nails at anyone associated with opposition to that war. As well they should – as the arguments in favor of the Iraq War are debunked, the only refuge for its remaining supporters is to make the very idea of opposing an American war seem beyond the pale, and to demonize those who show how it can be done.

  12. Good catch David.

    One Leader. One Party. One Country.

  13. The contemporary history of Ali re: the treatment of Joe Frazier is borderline criminal, i.e., Frazier was the “house slave” to the boxing/cultural establishment and Ali was the “man of the people.”

    It’s not enough to say that Ali would never have gained his current status without Frazier. It’s not even enough to say that by beating an all time top 5 heavyweight twice, (Tyson wishes he was as ferocious as Frazier in his prime) Ali cemented himself as the greatest ever.

    No, we’ve got to slander Frazier in the process to make Ali’s Muslim conversion and Vietnam/race protests all the more vivid.

    Watch the 3rd fight (Manila). Frazier almost died and Ali called it a “near death experience.” To call these two men anything other than inspirational is idiotic.

  14. I like how the “you want to fight me? you must be crazy” joke is, in Pipes eyes, a damning insight into Ali’s debased character. Oh my God, he made a joke at the expense of God’s Chosen President!

    I also like this: ‘He declared himself against “the entire power structure” in America, which he declared was run by Zionists who “are really against the Islam religion.”‘

    There are four sections here: 1) tells us that this is what Ali declared. 2) Quotes Ali saying he’s against “the entire power structure.” 3) is not a quote, but Pipes assures us he was talking about da Jooz. 4) is a quote in which Ali is apparently sayting that the behavior of this structure does things that violates his religion – except when read in the light of the non-quote in 3), which turns that statement about da Jooz (which Pipes can’t seem to find any quotes from Ali to support) into a declaration of Ali’s alliance with the Muslims in the Muslim/Jewish religious war Pipes is so fond of pimping.

    What a despicable piece of crap this guy is.

  15. Rich Ard,
    “like a pork chop” BONE would have been funny.

  16. Have previous commenters actually read the post that was linked? If Pipes is correct in his character assessment, he’s got a valid argument about *this* president bestowing *this* honor on the man.

    It’s not a bad read. I’m just a litlte surprised it wasn’t written by Christopher Hitchens.

  17. I didn’t see the link to the article quoted when I first commented, so I admit that I took it out of context. My apologies.

  18. Of course, what’s really up Pipes’ ass is that Bush tried to use this event as outreach to Muslims, Muslims who might not agree with the totality of American foreign policy (calling the Muslim Ali a “man of peace,” for example).

    Pipes is having nothing of this. We need to show those people who’s boss, not reach out to them.

  19. my guess was that pipes would say that the US isn’t “pro likud enough” and how betraying sharon is the worst thing bush did.

    “No, I don’t care if “the other side does it too.” The “other side” isn’t in power right now.”

    Akira: you’ve correctly identified the other part of the neocon/fundie methodology. any criticism of the current path is twisted by them in the “kerry would be worse”.

    it’s really funny when those quibbledicks are posting here. some use single source prowar imaginary voices. others give the false 9/11=saddam and backtrack when called on it. but they all remind people here that the democrat side (= the side we also can’t stand on many issues) would be “worse”.

    fine: a pox on both. but a shriveled up rotting off set of genitalia to the neocons.

    how’z dat?

    and “fuck you” to torture apologists out there.

  20. “the nadir of his presidency” – when the fuck was sworn into office.

    Damn, Warren, where are you? I need a drink today, too. I’m in one foul mood. I just read Nick’s piece on the indecency hearings in the Senate, he linked to a piece about campaign finance “reform”, Cathy’s article on torture (as if there should really be a lot of debate), and the rest of government sticking it to everybody, and I’m about to run amuck with a chainsaw…or something.

  21. Ironic meeting?two famous guys who didn?t want to go to Vietnam?one went to jail, the other did hard time at the country club.

  22. Wait. So why did Superman take away his powers before getting in the ring with Ali? I mean, they are fighting to determine the undisputed planetary champ. Who knows what kind of strange powers this alien champ might have? If I’m Superman, no way I’m giving this guy a break. Especially after all the trash Ali was talking. The arrogant SOB had the nerve to suggest that he could beat Superman? I would have pounded him to a pulp.

  23. A million thanks for that link, Jesse. I bought and loved that comic as a child, but it was lost to me for years.

  24. So where did Cassius (his momma called him Cassius, I’m calling him Cassius) say the power structure was run by Zionists? Or is this just the standard assumption that Pipes puts in all Muslim’s mouths? Does Pipes feel this way about all the draft dodgers or just Muslim ones?

    How is this a lower point than giving Tenet (two ginormous intelligence failures) the PMoF?

  25. So where did Cassius (his momma called him Cassius, I’m calling him Cassius) say the power structure was run by Zionists? Or is this just the standard assumption that Pipes puts in all Muslim’s mouths? Does Pipes feel this way about all the draft dodgers or just Muslim ones?

    How is this a lower point than giving Tenet (two ginormous intelligence failures) the PMoF?

  26. Out of curiosity, what did your mother call you, Mo?

  27. What has been the bottom of the Bush Administration so far? …That’s a great question!

    From a political perspective, I’d nominate the withdrawal of Harriet “Incitatus” Miers. He went to bat for her, even when the goin’ got rough–whoa!–swing and a miss!

    …but my personal favorite has to be the White House speech the President gave bragging about having closed the torture chambers of Abu Gharib–mere weeks before the news of our disgrace at Abu Gharib broke. …Whew, that was a stinker!

  28. Pipes overdoes this thing quite a bit.

    Is Ali truly, “a man profoundly opposed to Mr. Bush’s own, his party’s, and the country’s principles”?

    Pipes doesnt make 100% clear exactly what he thinks Ali’s “principles” are in the first place. He sort of just goes after him as kind of a ‘big jerk’.

    He clearly thinks Ali is something of a religious hypocrite – however, if thats the case, he would share that characteristic in common with this president, as well as the larger nation as a whole.

    Ali is/was also a shameless self-promoter. If thats not American, i dont know what is.

    Ali’s relationship with the Nation of Islam is certainly worthy of discussion.

    But to simply say, the NOI is an ‘anti-American, anti-white organization’ = therefore Ali is himself Anti-American and Anti-White, and therefore doesnt deserve a medal.

    That doesnt sound like the most sophisticated analysis I’ve ever read. This Pipes guy is a professional historian?

    Pipes ignores the simple fact that if you did a survey of ‘who is the the most popular American in history’, Ali would no doubt in contention for the top slot. He doesnt bother try and explain why, but just says, ‘the real ali is an asshole’. That may be the case. But so what?

    If anything, Bush could be criticised for handing these things out willy-nilly, but then we’d have to admit that medals are just a tool for a politician to use to make themselves look good in the first place. W is just trying to buy goodwill from african americans (beats giving them a quality public education… give them medals).

    The whole thing strikes me as kind of silly and small minded.

  29. tarran
    That throwaway line was a joke. It was from the barbershop scene in Coming to America.

    FWIW, my mom calls me Mo or Mostafa (depending on how much trouble I’m in).

  30. Mo,

    If a man vants to me called Mu-cccchhhhhh-ammed Ali…

  31. Pipes obviously believes that Ali was a big phony and anti-American, and therefore Ali doesn’t deserve any sort of medals, let alone the MoF. I guess that’s fair enough, but the nadir of this entire Presidency? Whatever.

    Further, it can’t be denied that Ali was enourmously influential, I believe in a positive way, regardless of his true feelings on Islam, the US or his (unsupported by Pipes) anti-semitism.

    And I’m with Jason O, Ali’s treatment of Frazier was disgusting. But Ali knew how to run the show and Frazier didn’t, so maybe he deserves a medal just for personifying good old American crowd pandering.

  32. Stretch:

    Ali’s treatment of Frazier no big deal, it was just pre-and intra-fight showmanship for the media. Joe made it worse by trying to verbally spar with Ali.

    What’s really diabolical is the trashing of Frazier as a water carrier for “the man” by today’s documentarians/pop historians.

  33. What’s really diabolical is the trashing of Frazier as a water carrier for “the man” by today’s documentarians/pop historians.

    That’s exactly the image that Ali created, which is my beef. A brilliant move on Ali’s part, but totally unfair to Frazier, who made it worse by trying to compete verbally. As I see it, that image of Frazier is actually fading, but it’s been awhile since I saw or read anything new on the subject.

  34. i just like the fact that you can see the back of batman’s head in the front row watching the fight

  35. Worst President since LBJ, with whom he ties. Both damaged our nation’s honor by lying us into a war of choice. Hope they end up smoking turds side by side in hell.

    The rest of the world matters, as we found out after 9/11 when our allies helped us out in Afghanistan (and in defending our own shores!). Think they’re going to be so helpful after they found out we were torturing their citizens?

  36. Ali […] looked the president in the eye and, finger to head, did the “crazy” twirl for a couple of seconds. […] And the president looked visibly taken aback, laughing nervously. Was Ali making a political statement?

    Gawd, I hope so.

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