|As tens of thousands of Iranian protesters take to the streets in defiance of the government in Tehran, officials in Washington are debating whether President Obama’s response to Iran’s disputed election has been too muted.|
Mr. Obama is coming under increased pressure from Republicans and other conservatives who say he should take a more visible stance in support of the protesters.
Even while supporting the president’s approach, senior members of the administration, including Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, would like to strike a stronger tone in support of the protesters, administration officials said.
Other White House officials have counseled a more cautious approach, saying harsh criticism of the government or endorsement of the protests could have the paradoxical effect of discrediting the protesters and making them seem as if they were led by Americans. So far, Mr. Obama has largely followed that script, criticizing violence against the protesters, but saying that he does not want to be seen as meddling in Iranian domestic politics.
....But Mr. Obama also drew criticism from politically neutral observers when he said in an interview on Tuesday with The New York Times and CNBC that from an American national security perspective, there was not much difference between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mir Hussein Moussavi, his closest competitor in the election.
“Either way,” Mr. Obama said, the United States is “going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States, that has caused some problems in the neighborhood and is pursuing nuclear weapons.”
The remark struck critics as off key and dismissive toward Mr. Moussavi, when he has become a symbol of freedom and democracy in Iran. “Obama’s posture has been very equivocal, without a clear message,” said Representative Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican who is the House minority whip. “Now is the time for us to show our support with the Iranian people. I would like to see a strong statement from him that has moral clarity.”
I actually agree with him they may not be a huge difference between the two at least in terms of how they will deal with America and their nuke program, but this is not the time to say it especially when Obama has come off as Mr. Wimpy in calling out the events on the ground in Iran.
Stand up and show some leadership instead of this meandering course.