White House claims that President Barack Obama made a bold plea for reforms in a speech in Cairo two years ago have been found lacking.
Obama’s words were neither bold nor controversial and “he was criticized — by Egyptians — for dodging tough issues,” The Washington Post
concluded in a fact-check of the assertion.
White House Chief of Staff William Daley said that Obama was criticized two years ago for being “so forward calling for changes” in the speech, asserting that the president specifically challenged the government of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
“President Obama's new chief of staff took a risky gambit this week, appearing to claim credit on his boss's behalf for the democracy movement now underway in Egypt. His assertion — especially that Obama's pronouncements were so bold that he took heat for them — certainly demands checking,” the Post said.
The part of the speech devoted to democracy was “relatively short,” does not name countries, law or practices. The Post compared it to a speech given by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Egypt four years before Obama that specifically called on the Egyptian government to hold free elections with international monitors.
While neither speech moved Mubarak to make changes, he was furious at Rice’s speech and praised Obama’s, the Post said.
The Post concluded, “White House staff are often tempted to attribute world-shattering events to the words and vision offered by their boss years earlier. But it is a temptation to be avoided. There is little evidence that Obama's words were considered bold and controversial at the time; to the contrary, he was criticized -- by Egyptians-- for dodging tough issues. The Egyptian government certainly wasn't moved to take action.”
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