Week In Review: Iran And A Wayward Governor

President Obama hardens his tone towards Iran's government, the governor of South Carolina makes a stunning admission, and two bright lights go out in the entertainment industry. Host Scott Simon reviews the week in the news with NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. This week President Obama hardens his tone toward Iran's government. The governor of South Carolina makes a stunning admission. And two bright lights go out in the entertainment industry.

NPR's senior news analyst Dan Schorr joins us. Hello, Dan.

DANIEL SCHORR: Hi, Scott.

SIMON: And boy, what a week, particularly these last couple of days.

SCHORR: What a week. I guess a very short way of summing it up is to say it revolved around three names - Ahmadinejad, Sanford and Jackson.

SIMON: Let's pick up events in Iran first because President Obama certainly sharpened his criticism of the Iranian government this week. He called the disputed vote and the regime's treatment of protesters there outrageous.

SCHORR: Yes.

SIMON: It's the kind of thing that people notice, but does it have any real effect?

SCHORR: Well, our president is in a very delicate position there. He's been trying to say that he sympathizes with the people who are being put upon by the Ahmadinejad government. But he doesn't want to be blamed for what's going on there. They are trying to shift it and say this is all because of America. So he has this double problem. He wants to say things as sternly as he can about American values, which don't like what's going on there. At the same time he has to deal with Iran. There is still a problem of their nuclear pretensions and whether that's going to go ahead, and how you can sort of be mad at them and be opening up to talk to them is hard. Meanwhile, he's trying to get along with outrageous.

SIMON: Well, and that raises this question: If this regime stays in power, can he sit down and talk to a regime that he's called outrageous, and even questioned the legitimacy of the regime at this point?

SCHORR: Well, let me say I don't think it will happen for some time. They'll have to let the dust settle and then maybe several months from now, after we are still left with that problem of a possibly nuclear-armed Iran, and in the end you have to take life as it is.

SIMON: According to the Islamic calendar of mourning, in a little over a month there are supposed to be memorial services for the people who died, which some people have observed as a timetable for the protest movement. Do you see the protest movement flattening out or gaining strength?

SCHORR: It's very hard to say. It'll flatten out for a day or two and then they'll come back and then there will be some more people killed, it'll go away again, and it'll come back and have a mourning procession for those who have been killed. I would not dare to predict where it is all going to end except to say it is not over.

SIMON: To domestic issues - oh, bad choice of words, but let's just keep going on.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: The governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, it turns out he was not hiking the Appalachian Trail. He was in Argentina with a woman with whom he's acknowledged being involved with. Now, of course we could mention several prominent Democrats, recently been revealed in sex scandals. But has this become a particular problem for national Republicans?

SCHORR: I can't help it - (singing) don't cry for me, South Carolina.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SCHORR: I'm sorry about that.

SIMON: Yes.

SCHORR: I think it was Henry Kissinger who said that power is the greatest aphrodisiac. And so you get - I don't know how powerful the governor of South Carolina is, but it seems to happen, there are a couple of governors, a couple of senators - we won't go back to when it was a President Clinton who also had an interest with women not married to him, and so on. It is a quite strange manifestation.

SIMON: But of course the Republicans, at least nationally, are the party now that are trying to get back into power.

SCHORR: Yes.

SIMON: And it does seem that at least a few of the names that have been cited as potential national leaders have been sort of taken out of consideration.

SCHORR: Yes.

SIMON: Well, are we living, in part because of the experience with the Clinton administration, are we living in a different country now on that score too? Is a sex scandal…

SCHORR: Well, not…

SIMON: John Edwards, for example, now says that he doesn't rule out a return to politics.

SCHORR: These things keep happening and American voters continue being dismayed when it happens. And especially when you're dealing with Republicans. They talk values, they talk family. They talk all these words and if that's what they are - the platform that they are running on, how does it look when it turns out that they betray all their own ideas?

SIMON: Significant event coming up for Iraq next week. That's the deadline for U.S. troops to begin to pull out of urban areas in that country. Dan, what happens after June 30th?

SCHORR: Well, if you listen to our commanders, they are going to go ahead and pull out of the major cities by next Tuesday - no matter what, is what they say.

They would have hoped that things would have been a little quieter, but on the other hand, you know, having said - Iraqi sovereignty takes over and they got to do it. I imagine they are going to go ahead with the pull-out on Tuesday.

SIMON: Finally, of course, there was flabbergasting news in the world of entertainment - the death of Farrah Fawcett.

SCHORR: Yes.

SIMON: America's kind of pin-up angel for many years died after a very public battle with cancer. And then in the afternoon, Michael Jackson, the king of pop.

SCHORR: Yes.

SIMON: I remember going to cover the civil war in El Salvador and hearing kids ask me about Miguel Yakson(ph).

SCHORR: Wow.

SIMON: This is a significant moment in U.S. history.

SCHORR: Well, apparently the pop culture is so important in America, the fact is Michael Jackson made him really a part of American life, a part of the American soul. Let me say, by the way, in passing that while he is mourned by many, I wonder who might be the only one who is glad to see the news of these two sweep everything else off the news wires on that day. Can you imagine who that might be?

SIMON: I'm going to let you finish the sentence.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SCHORR: Governor Sanford, I'll bet, didn't mind being swept off the front page.

SIMON: Thanks very much, Dan Schorr.

SCHORR: My pleasure, Scott.

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