As if we didn't have enough to worry about -- what with Israel and Hamas lobbying deadly force and angry rhetoric at each other and our own nation approaching the much ballyhooed "fiscal cliff" -- now Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi may have decided that this whole democracy thing really isn't all that swell.
Morsi issued several recent edicts that have the look and feel of undemocratic power grabs. While Morsi disputes that characterization, a substantial element of the public in Egypt seems to disagree with him.
People took to the streets last week to violently protest Morsi's moves in scenes reminiscent of the demonstrations that eventually led to the ouster of longtime former President Hosni Mubarak.
Morsi told hundreds of his supporters outside the presidential palace in Cairo that,
"I have dedicated myself and my life for democracy and freedom. The steps I took are meant to achieve political and social stability."
However, protesters stormed the Alexandria headquarters of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arms of the Muslin Brotherhood of which Morsi is a member. Thousands more demonstrators congregated in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday, making speeches and chanting slogans against the president. All of this would seem to indicate that much of the population isn't buying Morsi's explanation.
Frankly, after examining Morsi's actions, neither are we.
Morsi already holds substantial executive and legislative powers, but his decrees at least present the opportunity for him to become a new dictator.
Some examples include:
He argues that these measures are needed to maintain order in these troubled times, but that is frequent refrain offered by leaders who have no intention of leaving office voluntarily.
The chief of Morsi's cabinet insists that these steps are merely to prevent the anarchy in the nation and he points out that Morsi has appointed a commission to write a new constitution. It is a point worth considering, however, the most accelerated timetable places Morsi in absolute control for anywhere from six to eight months.
That is a lot of time for a newly minted head of state to suddenly discover that he enjoys being in charge and that democracy can be both messy and inconvenient.