Did He Get An Autograph?

Tonight CBS Evening News will air the first part of Mike Wallace’s interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. We’ve already gotten a preview, however, of Wallace’s impressions of the Iranian leader:

Of Ahmadinejad, Wallace said, “He’s an impressive fellow, this guy. He really is. He’s obviously smart as hell.”

Wallace said he was surprised to find that the Iranian president was still a college professor who taught a graduate-level course.

“You’ll find him an interesting man,” he said. “I expected more of a firebrand. I don’t think he has the slightest doubt about how he feels … about the American administration and the Zionist state. He comes across as more rational than I had expected.”

This is reminiscent of the way journalists and others would react after meeting Hitler. He wasn’t a raving lunatic, like I expected! He was calm! Rational! Even Charming! (I wonder whether Ahmadinejad is a vegetarian.) What did Wallace expect? That a village idiot somehow ended up running a nation of 68 million?

Then there’s this:

“He’s actually, in a strange way, he’s a rather attractive man, very smart, savvy, self-assured, good looking in a strange way,” Wallace said. “He’s very, very short but he’s comfortable in his own skin.”

What is this, a Tiger Beat interview? Just once, I wish MSM reporters would adopt the same adversarial attitude toward foreign leaders who are deadly enemies of the United States that they take toward members of the Bush administration.

I suppose it’s possible that the interview, when it airs, will be a useful piece of journalism, but based on the previews, it doesn’t appear likely.

SCOTT adds: Our friend Cardinalpark of TigerHawk writes:

What I found most shocking wasn’t that Wallace found Ahmedinejad in some way charming or attractive (though I’ve heard he is relentlessly chided for BO) – it was his voluntary reference to Israel as the “Zionist State”. That is a socialist and islamist way of referring to Israel as a creature of imperialism and it makes plain to me that Wallace sympathizes with Ahmedinejad’s anti-Zionism (at the very least). His use of that phrasing is, I think, telling – akin to Richard Cohen’s refernce to Israel as a “mistake.” Really appalling. Of course, we know that Saddam didn’t have long to last after the Rather interview, so maybe this bodes well…