Griffs Notes 9/8/06

I have a great idea for a new reality television show: “Truth or Lies – World Leaders on the Spot.” What do you think?

Yesterday, I asked a pretty uncomfortable question to one-third of the “axis of evil” – former Iranian President Muhammad Khatami. The two-term leader of Iran was speaking at the National Cathedral in Washington as part of a two-week tour across America that is being billed as a “dialogue of civilizations.” It is neither supported nor coordinated by the State Department.

Khatami portrayed himself as a “reformist” although there is little to back that claim up if you consider where Iran is today in the geo-political chess game. Khatami was president from 1997-2005. Here is the unpleasant 800-lb gorilla in the room that I let out…

JENKINS: President Khatami, do you personally believe that the Jews are innately different from other human beings, that there's something about their being that makes them innately and unalterably different?

KHATAMI: Not at all. Absolutely not. But I believe there are people within the Christianity, Islam, Judaism, that they consider themselves to be the superior race.

I don’t know about you, but that’s an awfully defensive answer he gave me. It was almost as telling as the glare I got from him.

Then the stars aligned and thanks to my new VOA colleague and friend – I inadvertently ended up in the bowels of the Cathedral at a “very private” dinner with Khatami before the speech. And despite the fact that the “man of the hour” did not want to talk again (go figure?), one of his most “trusted advisors” was more than willing! So for an hour I stuffed my face with nuts, dates, olives and pita bread asking some of the most outrageous questions that I could think of – all off the record, of course.

Here’s the most outrageous claim – Ahmadinejad is not the man in the 1979 Hostage Crisis photo and he took NO PART in the entire event. Rather, my source tells me, Ahmadinejad was “more interested in taking the Russian Embassy.”

Sounds like it’s time for a new contestant on this reality show of mine: Mr. Ahmadinejad, Come On Down!!