Mubarak manages to make matters much worse

MUBARAK MANAGES TO MAKE MATTERS MUCH WORSE…. The streets of Cairo were packed with throngs of protestors who’d been told they were about to get their wish — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would step down. All available evidence suggested he was on his way out, making today the day everything changed in Egypt.

Mubarak, however, had other ideas.

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt told the Egyptian people Thursday that he would delegate more authority to his vice president, Omar Suleiman, but that he would not resign his post, contradicting earlier reports that he would step aside and surprising hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered to hail his departure from the political scene.

In a nationally televised address following a tumultuous day of political rumors and conflicting reports, Mr. Mubarak said he would “admit mistakes” and honor the sacrifices of young people killed in the three-week uprising, but that he would continue to “shoulder my responsibilities” until September, and did not give a firm indication that he intended to depart the political scene.

The autocratic leader suggested he would “delegate” some of his powers, but not “transfer” them. He also referenced some possible constitutional amendments, as if that’s what’s led to 17 days of intense protests.

Indeed, it wasn’t clear exactly why Mubarak made the speech in the first place — as he sees it, practically nothing has changed, which is the way it should be. He expressed sympathies for the protestors, and inexplicably argued that he’d work on meeting their demands by staying in power for several more months.

The assembled crowd, not surprisingly, erupted in outrage, and it seems likely Mubarak’s remarks will only generate larger, angrier protests tonight and tomorrow.

Mubarak might as well have lit a torch next to a powder keg. One gets the sense the oblivious man doesn’t know, care, or understand why the demonstrations have occurred in the first place.