Vice President Joe Biden was asked on PBS this evening whether he views Egypt’s president as a dictator. Noting that President Mubarak has been a US ally and has normalized relations with Israel, Biden said: “I would not refer to him as a dictator.”
When asked whether the time has come for Mubarak to go, Biden responded:
No. I think the time has come for President Mubarak to begin to move in the direction that – to be more responsive to some… of the needs of the people out there.
The protesters are not shouting about wanting a better life or the need for political reform. They’re shouting “Down With Mubarak!”
If the Egyptian president had any interest in being responsive to that demand, he’d be gone. But note that Biden was not suggesting that Mubarak be responsive to the Egyptian people’s demands — merely that he should be responsive to some of their needs, and then presumably they will quieten down.
At his most disingenuous, Biden even claims to have no idea what the Egyptians want or whether their aspirations are legitimate.
“We’re encouraging the protesters to – as they assemble, do it peacefully. And we’re encouraging the government to act responsibly and – and to try to engage in a discussion as to what the legitimate claims being made are, if they are, and try to work them out,” Biden said. “I think that what we should continue to do is to encourage reasonable… accommodation and discussion to try to resolve peacefully and amicably the concerns and claims made by those who have taken to the street. And those that are legitimate should be responded to because the economic well-being and the stability of Egypt rests upon that middle class buying into the future of Egypt.”
Thus speaks the patrician who believes everyone has a price. Mubarak doesn’t need to go — he just needs to determine the right price for pacifying his subjects.