As we've learned over the last few days, there is a lot hanging on the meaning of the word "coup." Or, more precisely, the answer to this question: Was Egyptian President Morsi removed from office by a military coup?
In an appearance on Face the Nation yesterday, Senator John McCain said that what happened in Egypt was, indeed, “a coup d’etat and pressed the Obama administration to suspend aid to the country.”
The Egyptian ambassador is insisting that the dust up between Morsi and the military, in which the generals essentially gave the president until sundown, or else ... well, whatever it was, it wasn't a coup. Appearing on another of those Sunday morning shows, Ambassador Mohamed Tawfik said:
"Egypt has not undergone a military coup, and it was certainly not run by the military. Today, there is an interim president in place."
All this deconstruction is fueled by what Peter Baker called in his report for the New York Times: "The $1.5 billion question."
As we have all come to understand, and have had explained to us on the Sunday shows, the law requires that the United States must cut off aid to Egypt if it is determined that the government was overthrown by a coup. That, we're told, is just the way things are. The law is the law. We live with its consequences. "Reluctantly," in the case of Senator McCain.
Could one who does not breathe beltway air every morning be forgiven for asking what all the hand wringing is about? Do we really expect the administration to let a mere law get in its way if it wants to keep sending money to Egypt?
Wasn't there, after all, something in the law about the implementation of the employer mandate feature of Obamacare? And did not some third level bureaucrat announce that the administration just wasn't going to abide by that law? And he didn't even go on a Sunday show to deliver the news.