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Change They Can't Believe


Alas! Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali joins the ranks of the unemployed, his tenure as leader of Tunisia cut horribly short by the popular revolt against oppression and corruption that began when citizen Mohammed Bouazizi had enough - and set himself on fire in protest. He died, but the anger didn’t.

Poor Ben Ali only got to be boss for 23 years! That’s absolutely nothing in a corner of the world where folks in power like their jobs so much they tend to keep them forever and ever.

When Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi came to power, our president was Nixon. And then Nixon left and we had Ford. And then he left and we had Carter. And then he left and we had Reagan. And then he left and we had Bush the Elder. And then he left and we had Clinton. And then he left and we had Bush the Younger. And then he left and we had Obama.

They still have Qaddafi.

Egypt’s Mubarak has been in office just over 29 years. Yemen’s leader assumed his post nearly 21 years ago.  Sudan’s Bashir 17. Jordan’s King Abdullah II has been the Boss of Them for 12 years, with Algeria’s Bouteflika trailing only a few months behind him. Mohammed VI has been King of Morocco for over 11 years. And yadda yadda, and so on and so forth.

Ben Ali can be forgiven for believing he had some job security. After all, he once controlled the media! That's always a nice bulwark against any threat to power or significant change, and standard operating procedure for any power-maintaining entity. Unfortunately, like many older folks - and your dad - he didn’t understand the power of the new media, especially Facebook and Twitter. The unhappy masses Posted and Tweeted their way around the state press to rally the troops and now he’s very, very fired.

Shame! He would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling kids! And apparently some of the police force, who seem to have had a recent change of heart and joined the calls for a government that's a wee bit more democratic. Kudos, Tunisia.

If you're looking for a sequel I'd nominate Egypt. Mubarak is 82 and ill, yet still plans to re-elect himself in the next "election."

Get Tweeting, Cairo.

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