60 Minutes' Scott Pelley sat down with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for what can only be termed a surreal interview. Pelley was combative for most of the interview, White House talking points quite literally in hand. Ahmadinejad's responses were frustratingly equivocal. It sparked a great debate in my home as to why...if Ahmadinejad does want to reach some sort of detente with the rising escalation of war rhetoric, his dancing around direct questions did not truly help him. But then again, Ahmadinejad's smile also belied an annoyance with Pelley's attitude, as his final comment indicated:
"This is not Guantanamo Bay. This is not a Baghdad prison. Please, this is not a secret prison in Europe. This is not Abu Ghraib," Ahmadinejad said. "This is Iran. I'm the president of this country!"
But what has to be the kicker of the interview is when Pelley asks Ahmadinejad (who has been called a madman, a terrorist supporter and evil by Bush, mind you) what he likes about President Bush.
Ahmadinejad responds by asking what do Americans like about Bush. Pelley's answer? Bush is a religious man.
"As an American citizen tell me what trait do you admire?" the president asked Pelley.
"Well Mr. Bush is without question a very religious man for example, as you are," Pelley replied.
"What religion, please tell me, tells you as a follower of that religion to occupy another country and kill its people, please tell me, does Christianity tell its followers to do that?" Ahmadinejad asked.
When Pelley reads a statement from Bush to Ahmadinejad (he's now too cowardly to meet with world leaders on his own and relies on reporters to pass along messages?), my irony meter redlined.
UPDATE: Juan Cole in Salon: Turning Ahmadinejad into Public Enemy #1