Iranian President Rouhani now has his own ‘Yes, We Can’ music video

November 26, 2013

Still frame from the Iranian music video "Aspirations," a "Yes, We Can"-style take on President Hassan Rouhani's inauguration speech. (YouTube)

You remember "Yes, We Can," the 2008 music video that turned then-candidate Barack Obama's stump speech into a song. You remember the all-star cast, the black-and-white close-ups, the strumming guitar, the highly earnest and sentimental singing, the millions of YouTube hits.

Now Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who was elected in August on a moderate and reform-tinged agenda, has his own version of the "Yes We Can" music video. It's called "Aspirations," and it's pretty much a carbon copy of the 2008 Obama video, right down to the swelling music and the use of sign language, except that the performers are Iranian and they're singing in Farsi. Oh, and the speech they're reciting is not a campaign speech but Rouhani's Aug. 3 inauguration speech, after formally accepting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's blessing to take the office of the president (Iran's political system is a little different from ours).

Here's the video, and below that, some snips from the speech, translated into English:

I don't have a full English translation of the speech, but it opens: "In the presence of the holy Koran and before the nation, I swear to the omnipotent God to safeguard the official religion of the country and the Islamic Republic as well as the country's constitution."

Here are some quotes from the speech, as it was translated in write-up by Washington Post Tehran correspondent Jason Rezaian:

“The government of hope and prudence wants to bring back happiness to Iranians’ lives,” Rouhani said, referring to his campaign’s motto. “To achieve this, we have to increase national wealth and power, and assign those with wisdom as decision makers, trust nongovernmental organizations, increase privatization and have trust in people.”

“The only way to interact with Iran is to have dialogue from an equal position, creating mutual trust and respect and reducing enmities,” Rouhani said. “Let me state it clearly that if you want a positive response, talk to Iran not with a language of sanctions but a language of respect.”

Rouhani's rhetorical style does have quite the same music-video-ready force and flourish as candidate Obama's did.

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Max Fisher | November 26, 2013