CAIRO -- There was a curious detail in Monday's New York Times report on the recent surge of visceral -- and often inconsistent -- anti-Americanism that that has swept through Egypt lately. It was a video clip, widely broadcast on Egyptian state television, and cited, the report said, with some regularity on the streets of Cairo, as evidence of America's history of undermining the Egyptian people by siding with the Muslim Brotherhood.
In the video, recorded in March, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) lambastes the Obama administration from the floor of the House of Representatives for failing to sever its financial ties to an Egyptian government that, until a military takeover unseated it from power in early July, was run by the Islamist Brotherhood.
This administration, through Secretary Hillary Clinton, is going to announce they can care less what Congress had ordered about helping the enemies of Israel, about helping those who are terrorizing and persecuting christians in Egypt and destroying churches and eliminating freedom of religion.
There is some significant confusion here. The money Gohmert was talking about, of course, is indeed almost entirely military aid, which means it would never get near the civilian government of the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact much of it never makes it to Egypt at all. The vast majority is spent on American defense contractors, who supply parts and service to the American products -- like Abrams tanks or F-16 fighter jets -- that they give to Egypt's military.
Here in Egypt, the confusion about that aid is only magnified further. On the streets of Cairo, where angry pro-military citizens are often looking for an excuse to vent frustration at President Barack Obama's supposed support for the Brotherhood, the failure to cut off that aid package during the Brotherhood's rule is a convenient totem for America's betrayal of secular Egyptians. (The old saw that Obama is himself a Muslim, or has a family member in the Brotherhood itself, has also resurfaced in Egyptian media; Gohmert has been among the leading proponents of the unfounded notion that Obama has Muslim Brotherhood "advisers.")
But so far at least, Obama has also refused to cut off the aid despite the takeover by the military, which has been accompanied by a brutal crackdown on the opposition.
Meanwhile, the confusion of Gohmert's own proclamations continues. At a Tea Party town hall last week, the congressman managed to both accuse Obama of failing to support the Egyptian military enough and fault him for not yet cutting the military aid.
He also announced that since videos of his March floor speech went viral in Egypt, he'd received a number of invitations to bring the rhetoric to Cairo.
“They want me to come over in a couple of weeks and speak to a big group there,” Gohmert said. “And if things work out, I will be in Egypt."
It would be a meeting of the minds.
Ryan Rainey contributed reporting.