White House takes credit for Mubarak exit
Jake Tapper reports on some triumphalism from the White House regarding Mubarak's resignation:
Sources tell ABC News that after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak spoke last night, handing over powers to his vice president but not stepping down, the White House and Obama administration in general conveyed to Egyptian government --at all levels - that his message was not enough for the demonstrators, whom they needed to satisfy or the crisis would continue and get worse.
On Thursday White House and administration officials had been told by Mubarak advisers that he was planning to step down -- but no one was certain what he would do. Members of Mubarak's own Cabinet thought he was stepping down. But Mubarak has proven himself mercurial and quite reluctant to give up power or be seen as having been chased out of office - so the White House hedged its bets.
The president give an optimistic statement earlier in the day, talking about bearing witness to history and praising the young generation marching in the streets of Cairo. But he didn't get ahead of Mubarak. The White House has been surprised by his actions and there was no upside in trying to predict what a most unpredictable man would do.
Ultimately even Mubarak aides didn't know what he would say. Was U.S. intelligence bad? "We have good intelligence," an official told ABC News. "But we can't get inside someone's head."
I think an excellent argument can be made that it was the stupidity of the Administration in jumping the gun and commenting on Mubarak's exit before he announced it that stiffened the Egyptian president's spine and prevented his resignation that night. Mubarak made several references during his rambling speech about foreign governments pushing him out - a clear reference to Obama. Recall that CIA cheif - quoting press reports and not imparting any special intelligence - made a statement that Mubarak was leaving. Then Obama got in front of some college kids and referred to Mubarak's leave taking elliptically.
Then there's the question of which policy forced Mubarak to go? During the 18 day revolt, the White House had at least 3 policies while the president's personal representative to the Egyptian president went rogue and contradicted everything the White House was saying.
Any effect the Obama administration had on the situation in Egypt was negative. That's not the way the press is spinning it but that is the reality.