Harman: 'Time may be past' for Mubarak to appease protesters

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) said President Obama's 2009 Cairo speech encouraging Egyptian leaders to rein in corruption and expand individual freedoms went unheeded. As a result, she said, it might be too late for Mubarak's autocratic regime to make amends with protesters.

"The gentle nudge came a year and a half ago by President Obama, and I think the time may be past for President Mubarak to do these things," Harman told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell.

"He's done some very good things and he's a U.S. ally," Harman added. "But the people on the street are not going to pay attention to that if he doesn't immediately start opening up some of his government."

Harman credited Mubarak with being "enormously helpful" in efforts to forge a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, but said his track record with his own people is much less virtuous.
"The government has governed its own people with very repressive strategies, and the recent election was a joke," she said. "Elections don't make democracies."

Still, the California Democrat isn't blaming the situation on Mubarak exclusively. The U.S. government, she charged, is also at fault for failing to keep its pressure on Egypt's leaders to alter their ways.

"[Their] government didn't change and our government didn't sustain its focus," she said. "True, we've been trying to change policy in Afghanistan and we've had a few other challenges in trying to make Israel and Palestine move forward.

"But at any rate, the pitch for these changes and for the development of political capacity in these countries has been unheeded by their governments and has not been sustained by our government."