March 9, 2010

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(Sen. Alan Cranston - Majority Whip and Tap Dance - 1980)

As the hostage crisis in Iran dragged on, the finger pointing season was in full swing. Everyone from the President to the State Department had their fair share of blame to pass around. Our attempts at diplomacy and negotiation were failing miserably and there seemed to be no positive outcome to the story.

So when Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Whip appeared on Face the Nation on March 30, 1980 he was barraged with questions on what, if any, next moves were on the horizon. From the sounds of it, there were none.

Sen. Alan Cranston: “I think you have to go all the way back to the beginning of the crisis to really fault what has occurred. I do not fault the decision to permit the Shah to enter this country, I think that that was necessary and appropriate, given our past relationship with him and his health. I do feel that, in retrospect it would have been far wiser for the President to have taken steps to insure the safety of our people in Iran. There apparently there were reasons to fear what might happen when the Shah came in. And I think we should have closed our embassy and removed our personnel simultaneously with the permission of the Shah to come this country. Since that time, I think the President has handled a very difficult situation with restraint and wisdom and imagination in seeking ways to go and resolve an incredible situation.”

In short, there was no solution and a lot of blame to pass around. But bear in mind, it was only going to get worse with an ill-fated rescue attempt a little over a month away.

And thirty years ago it was very possible to make a bad situation worse.

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