That’s not how I remember the conversation…

I was surprised to see a UPI headline today reading, “ElBaradei Rules Out Presidential Bid.” I had just spoken with the former IAEA Director General last Thursday, and he had given no indication that was the direction he was leaning — if he had wanted to break that sort of news, he should have given ...

574104_100125_ElBaradei2resized2.jpg
574104_100125_ElBaradei2resized2.jpg

I was surprised to see a UPI headline today reading, "ElBaradei Rules Out Presidential Bid." I had just spoken with the former IAEA Director General last Thursday, and he had given no indication that was the direction he was leaning -- if he had wanted to break that sort of news, he should have given me the scoop!

But then I saw the source: "ElBaradei...told news magazine Foreign Policy that Egypt lacks the measures needed to hold a fair election."

I was surprised to see a UPI headline today reading, “ElBaradei Rules Out Presidential Bid.” I had just spoken with the former IAEA Director General last Thursday, and he had given no indication that was the direction he was leaning — if he had wanted to break that sort of news, he should have given me the scoop!

But then I saw the source: “ElBaradei…told news magazine Foreign Policy that Egypt lacks the measures needed to hold a fair election.”

What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is an egregious case of mis-quoting. ElBaradei’s full quote reads:

I don’t want to be president of Egypt! I have a lot of plans other than being president of Egypt. You can understand that after having this thankless job for 12 years, that I wanted to have some time to do other things that I like to do, including spending time with my family — we have a house in the south of France, and I also have a granddaughter. However, this issue is coming to me by default; a lot of people are saying that they want me to be engaged in domestic politics — they want me to run for president of Egypt.

What I’ve said is that I would not even consider running for president unless there is the proper framework for a free and fair election — and that is still the major question mark in Egypt.

I think the meaning of this is fairly clear. He is saying that he doesn’t want to be president, on a personal level, but he is still saying that he’ll run — under certain conditions.

What ElBaradei did was give a very literal answer to my question: Why do you want to be President? Which, for the record, was inspired out of my curiosity to see whether the question would trip him up in the same way that it confused Ted Kennedy in 1979. It didn’t — but it still managed to trip up UPI.

SAMUEL KUBANI/AFP/Getty Images

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