Mike and Mahmoud...
It's hard to say it better than Jeff Jacoby.
NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN flew to Munich to see Adolf Hitler, Walter Winchell observed in 1938, ``because you can't lick a man's boots over the phone." Why did Mike Wallace fly to Tehran?
Wallace's bio at the CBS website lauds his ``no-holds-barred interviewing technique," but there was no hint of it Sunday, when ``60 Minutes" aired his interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of the virulent Iranian theocracy that is the world's most active sponsor of jihadist terror.
Time and again Wallace let Ahmadinejad brush him off with inanities and lies he would have pounced on had they been uttered by a business executive or an American politician. When Wallace asked why Iranian Revolutionary Guards are helping terrorists in Iraq kill US soldiers, Ahmadinejad's non-reply was that the Americans shouldn't be in Iraq, since it is ``a civilized nation with a long history of civilization." The ``60 Minutes" star's withering rejoinder, according to the transcript: ``Mm-hmm." Wallace didn't press for an answer to his question, so Ahmadinejad flung it back at him. ``According to international laws," he said, Iraqi security is the responsibility of ``the occupation" -- that is, the US military. ``Why are they not providing security?" The befuddled Wallace changed the subject.
And that, more or less, was the story of the interview. Wallace would pose a question, Ahmadinejad would swat it away with a preposterous retort, and Wallace would move on to something else.
Asked about the thousands of artillery rockets provided to Hezbollah by Iran, Ahmadinejad sneered: ``Are you the representative of the Zionist regime or a journalist?" Confronted with Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, he declared that President Bush and his supporters want to monopolize energy resources and ``line their own pockets."
You're a bigot who despises ``the Zionists," Wallace challenged him. Not at all, said the man who wants Israel ``wiped off the map," I merely despise ``heinous action."