In the wake of Stein-gate, I’ve been trying to think of other questions we should ask politicians. Peter Beinart has suggestions:
Whenever government officials show up on television, interviewers should throw in a Stein question or two. For instance, who is the supreme leader of Iran? Who was Mohammed Mossadeq? What is Bashar Assad’s religion? Which European country colonized Lebanon? Can you name an Iraqi ethnic group besides Arabs and Kurds? For most politicos, passing up an appearance on “Meet the Press” or “Larry King” is inconceivable, and so they’ll do what Reyes is hopefully doing now: study.
These are probably way too hard. I would think the “Hezbollah is Shiite, al-Qaeda is Sunni” fact could be grasped by reading newspapers now and again, and still seemingly nobody’s got it. At any rate, in case any congressional staff out there want to brief their boss, the supreme leader of Iran is Mohammed Khatami (bonus fact — he’s Azeri not Persian), Mohammed Mossadeq was a populist Prime Minister of Iran in the early 1950s overthrown by US and British intelligence essentially at the behest of western oil companies, Bashar Assad is an Alawite, Lebanon was colonized by France, there are Turkomen in Iraq.
UPDATE: I’ve been gone all day, but as I’m sure you’ll read in comments, I myself made a mistake here. Iran’s Supreme Leader is Ali Khamenei.