The New Republic’s Christopher Orr has a nice catch:
“[A]fter treating this popular revolution as an inconvenience to the real business of Obama-Khamenei negotiations, the president speaks favorably of ‘some initial reaction from the Supreme Leader that indicates he understands the Iranian people have deep concerns about the election.’ Where to begin? ‘Supreme Leader’? Note the abject solicitousness with which the American president confers this honorific on a clerical dictator.” — Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, June 19
“And the president has said ‘I have seen in Iran’s initial reaction from the supreme leader.’ He is using an honorific to apply to a man whose minions out there are breaking heads, shooting demonstrators, arresting students, shutting the press down, and basically trying to suppress a popular democratic revolution.” — Charles Krauthammer, Fox News All Stars, June 16
“Look, these were sham elections from the beginning. In a real democracy, you can have a change of power as a result. That was not going to happen in Iran. The mullahs are in charge. Khamenei, the supreme leader, remains in charge.” — Charles Krauthammer, Fox News All Stars, June 12
It’s well-established at this point that Fred Hiatt and his superiors have contempt for the readers of the Washington Post and don’t mind using their editorial real estate to misinform the public. But as Brad DeLong points out it continues to be mysterious why Krauthammer is listed as a Contributing Editor on the TNR masthead. The title is, to be sure, merely an honorific. But that only further raises the question of why the magazine would want to honor a writer for whom the rest of the staff seems—appropriately—to have so little respect.
On the merits, I think there’s never before been a taboo against describing foreign leaders, even nasty ones, with their proper titles. Hitler was The Fuhrer, Mussolini was Il Duce.