Rep. Olson Confuses His Iranian Presidents

June 17, 2010 9:24 am ET — Walid Zafar

Speaking on the House floor last night, Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) referred to the Iranian President as "Mr. Khatami."  The President of Iran, of course, is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Mohammad Khatami was president of the country from 1997 to 2005. 

OLSON: As the judge [Rep. John Carter (R-TX)] knows, we got serious challenges in the Middle East.  I mean, the — Mr. Khatami in Iran is scary.  I mean, he's trying to get a nuclear weapon.  He was here in our country a couple weeks ago at the United States — at the U.N., at the United Nations.  Sat down with George Stephanopoulos and literally, this is the leader of Iran, told him that Osama bin Laden is here in Washington, D.C.  Let me say that again, Judge, I think Osama bin Laden is here in Washington, D.C.  This guy is...trying to get some nuclear weapons, he certainly has some oil, and he's got friends out there, the Saudis and others, who would cut him off if something happens.

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The fact that a Republican member of Congress doesn't know or care to know who the president of a foreign country is not altogether surprising.  But Olson should know who the Iranian president is since many in his party have advocated for U.S. military involvement there and Olson voted for sanctions against Iran. 

The difference between Ahmadinejad and Khatami is not minor.  While both hold a generally hostile view towards the United States, they are in fact political opponents. Katami is, unlike Ahmadinejad, a reformist.  In 2009, Khatami considered challenging Ahmadinejad in the presidential elections but ultimately stepped aside and supported the campaign of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the leader of Iran's Green Movement.

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