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Michael Totten: ‘Larry’ of Arabia?

Michael Totten screenshot
First thing we have to start out with is that Michael Totten is a member of Pajamas Media, that den of mostly right-wing viper blogs. But Michael seems to have serious journalistic and international relations aspirations unlike the ideological blog-shmattes that characterize most PJM members. In fact, I think Totten gives PJM some street cred because they can say: “See, we actually have our man in Kurdistan. PJM isn’t just armchair slash and burn pro-Bush propaganda.” Yes, Totten gives them a veneer of respectability or at least a pretension of repsectability.

I’ve already written here about his slightly bizarre post from Lebanon in which he was SHOCKED, I say SHOCKED when Lebanese asked him if he was a U.S. spy. It brought him to near hysteria when he wrote in his blog: “I am not a spy!” Or how about Lebanon and Iraq: Partners in Freedom which could’ve been written by Karen Hughes. In fact, I start to wonder whether some of that Bush media payola directed to the Lincoln Group might be funding Michael’s efforts. Of course, I have no proof of this. Just those dulcet pro-Bush tones wafting over his prose.

Totten has become the darling of the National Review crowd perhaps due to his right-wing seal of approval from PJM as you’ll find in the interview linked above.

I find it amusing that he features this sidebar puffery from Roger Simon (PJM’s “revolutionary” founder):

“A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly”

Being called a ‘liberal’ by Simon places you somewhere to the left of Attila the Hun. Michael should be proud. And just how many ‘liberals’ do you think NRO is in the habit of including within its hallowed pages? Liberal my foot. And while we’re on the subject of one PJMer scratching another, I note that Michael’s been publishing in Marc Cooper’s L.A. Weekly. Marc is one of two trophy liberal members of PJM. Nice to know that one PJM hand can wash another so nicely.

Which brings me to the reason I focus some light on his recent post about Iraqi Kurdistan:

Kurdish home in ErbilThis Kurdish manse is “a dead ringer for a house in American suburbs” according to Totten…how nice for this Kurdish ‘Ozzie & Harriet’ (screenshot: Michaeltotten.com)

Iraqi Kurdistan is more pro-American than America. People there refer to George W. Bush as “Hajji Bush” (meaning he made the Muslim pilgrimage, the hajj, to Mecca), an incredibly high honor for a Christian from Texas whom most people hate. Bill Clinton may have been America’s first “black” president. But people in at least one part of the world say Bush is the first “Muslim” president. Weird and amazing, but true.

Before I went to Iraqi Kurdistan I asked a friend of mine who has been there about politics, economics, and security in the region. She thought my questions were a bit strange and not what she expected. She said that, for her, Kurdistan is a place to connect to through the heart. I first thought her response was “girlie.” I don’t so much anymore…

Anyway, Kurdish pro-Americanism goes way beyond mere thanks for getting rid of Saddam Hussein. Kurdish people think like Americans in ways that surprised me again and again. Admiration for American values and culture is ubiquitous in that region. Even the Islamists I met were weirdly pro-American in some ways – and again it’s not just because the US destroyed Saddam Hussein. It goes deeper than that, and I’ll get into it in detail in future posts.

So many odd things about this passage. “Hajji Bush???” What are these people smokin’? Bush has as much affinity for Islam or Kurdistan as my great aunt Sadie, which is to say not much. In fact, I’d love to see George dressed in one of those white robes kissing the rock in Medina–or is it Mecca? Quite a sight that would be.

Then how ’bout the weirdness about his being the first “Muslim” president. He attaches the claim vaguely to “people in at least one part of the world.” Is this a reference to Iraqi Kurdistan? If so, you could’ve fooled me. And who within this unspecified place said this about Bush? Talk about unsourced. I’m not saying that someone might not have said this–it’s entirely possible they did. But this is sloppy journalism at best.

But the notion that Bush is a “Muslim” president is incredible. Howso? Because he freed Muslims from tyranny by toppling Sadaam? I wonder how many Iraqis see George Bush as their “liberator” let alone as “Muslim.” Bizarre.

Oh, and it’s so manly of Michael to view harboring a soft spot in one’s heart for one’s homeland as “girlie.” What a virile kinda guy he must be. I bet being thousands of miles from home himself for months on end he’s never harbored such “girlie” feelings.

“Kurdish people think like Americans…” Whoa, this starts to sound like massive projection on Totten’s part. Of course, he doesn’t expand on the thought so we have little idea whether he’s blowing smoke up our you know whats.

“Even the Islamists I met were weirdly pro-American in some ways…” Another twilight zone type comment which is unexplained. Yes, he says he will expound on these points in later posts (four days and two posts after publishing this one he still hasn’t addressed any of these issues). But I just found them bizarre. I think memsahib has done the opposite of gone native (like Lawrence of Arabia). He’s brought to the Middle East his vision of America liberating the ME from despotic tyranny and finds nothing but confirmation for it wherever he goes. Amazing how these things happen!

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • anonymous February 21, 2006, 5:15 PM

    Did he Mention this Richard…

    Kurdistan: A Gangster State from Antiwar.com?

    That the Kurds are butchering the Arabs.

    Did you know Saladin is a Kurds?
    Or Israeli covert agents are already in Kurdistan?

  • Ethan March 9, 2006, 8:06 AM

    Wow. I’m American in Lebanon and I have to say you couldn’t have been more accurate w/ regards to MJT. And I’m not just saying that because he called me an asshole.

  • Richard Silverstein March 9, 2006, 3:16 PM

    Do tell. How did the asshole comment come about? Do you have a link? I’d love to include it if it’s appropriate in my next blog post about Totten.

    Did you read his absolutely stupid post called “I’m Not a Spy!”? What a deluded soul. He’s clearly intelligent & a good writer, but so misguided. The Pajamas Media folks must love him though because he adds an element of sophistication to their rigidly ideological blog offerings.

    If Totten called you an asshole you should consider yourself honored. Or you could say: “It’s takes one to know one!”

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