Amid Cairo protests, stubborn Mubarak borders on farce
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's refusal to resign is beginning to seem like a farce.
In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, King Arthur fights the Black Knight, proceeding to sever each of the knight's limbs. Yet after every amputation, the knight barely acknowledges his injury. "Tis but a scratch," he says. "Just a flesh wound," he insists. Until, with all of his arms and legs gone, the knight offers to "call it a draw."
With every blow, the reality of the Black Knight's weakness only gets more obvious, and Arthur has more reason to believe that total victory is his. Yet the knight behaves with a swagger borne of overconfidence and desperation.
Thousands of protesters take to the streets of Cairo. "I'll dismiss my government," Mubarak announces -- a real concession in a dictatorship. "It's just a scratch! I'll keep fighting back -- I'll shut off the Internet."
The protests continue. The police are scared off the streets. "I'll appoint the first vice president Egypt's had in decades. This is just a flesh wound."
The military implicitly blesses the demonstrations. Millions of Egyptians assemble in Cairo under military protection. "Alright -- we'll call it a draw. I won't run for president in the next election -- but let me stick around a while to consolidate my position. How about that?!"
Even a heretofore cautious President Obama doesn't think that, with Mubarak's legitimacy eroded and tools of state repression stilled, this response reflects reality -- and he said so publicly Tuesday.
At the end of the Monty Python bit, Arthur ignores the stump of a knight, simply walking past him on his way elsewhere. The Egyptian people are now poised to do the same to Mubarak.
| February 1, 2011; 10:28 PM ET
Categories: Stromberg | Tags: Stephen Stromberg
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