Monday, December 17, 2007

Saudi rape victim is pardoned – no thanks to Hillary

The Democrats, led by presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, had a high old time recently attacking President Bush over the decision by Saudi authorities to sentence a rape victim to 200 lashes, on the grounds that she had been alone with a man when they were both attacked.

"The Bush administration has refused to condemn the sentence and said it will not protest against an internal Saudi decision," complained Clinton, adding: "As president I will once again make human rights an American priority around the world."

Edwards said: "I am outraged that President Bush has refused to condemn the sentence". Barack Obama wrote to Condoleezza Rice, urging her to condemn the ruling.

Bush did criticise the sentence soon after, and White House officials made the Saudis fully aware of US concerns. But the administration was obviously constrained by diplomatic niceties, and the reality that Saudi Arabia is a supplier of oil, a buyer of US arms and an ally in the War on Terror, albeit a not particularly staunch one. It's not a perfect world, and that's the way these things work.

Now King Abdullah has decided to pardon the woman, and it's almost certain that behind-the-scenes pressure from the US and other countries helped force Abdullah's hand, although those same diplomatic niceties mean that the administration won't seek or get credit for any role it might have played.

But even if the King went on Saudi TV tomorrow and announced that he'd come to his decision after a personal appeal by the US President himself, Bush wouldn't be getting any credit from Hillary, Edwards and co.

The main concern of the Democrats and their supporters in the MSM and the left-wing blogosphere was never the fate of the poor woman, or the injustices of Saudi law – they were simply using her plight to attack the Bush administration.

Similar outrages, and even worse, are committed around the world every day by other regimes. Unfortunately for the victims, however, those countries aren't considered sufficiently close to the United States for Democrats to attempt to exploit the cases for political advantage. And you certainly won't hear a peep out of most Democrats when, as in Venezuela, state-sanctioned violence is employed to advance the cause of socialism.

The fact that the Democratic candidates don't speak for America on the world stage, and don't have to deal with the Saudis on a daily basis, meant they felt free to grandstand on the issue in a way Bush and his officials couldn't, regardless of the fact that their intervention could have made things worse for the rape victim by causing the Saudis to dig their heels in.

If they had been in office they would have had to exercise just as much circumspection and restraint in dealing with the Saudis as the administration was forced to, and they knew it – as did the media who uncritically reported their phony indignation.

The posturing and opportunism of Clinton and Edwards in particular is yet another reminder why neither of them are fit to succeed this President. If the roles had been reversed Bush wouldn't have resorted to such cheap rhetoric, and he doesn't need lectures about right and wrong from two of the most amoral and cynical politicians ever to seek the presidency.