Yesterday on Fox News, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called the Iranian election a “sham” and said that he hopes the U.S. “will act.” President Obama said that he would refrain from weighing in. “[We] want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran, which sometimes the United States can be a handy political football,” he said. Today, McCain responded, calling on Obama to turn up his rhetoric. “He should speak out that this is a corrupt, flawed sham of an election and that the Iranian people have been deprived of their rights,” he said. But this morning on CBS, McCain’s Senate GOP colleague and Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) sided with Obama:
HARRY SMITH: Beyond watching…beyond supporting the idea that these disputed votes should be recounted, is there anything the United States can do?
LUGAR: No. I think for the moment our position is to allow the Iranians to work out their situation. When popular revolutions occur, they come really from the people. They’re generated by people power within the country. For us to become heavily involved in the election at this point is to give the clergy an opportunity to have an enemy…and to use us, really, to retain their power.
As the Wonk Room’s Matt Duss noted, “Were the U.S to clumsily wade into this Iranian political crisis, as McCain would have us do, it would support Ahmadinejad’s main arguments against his domestic opponents, and likely provide the perfect pretext for a more intense crackdown. In other words, the preferences of hardliners in Iran and the U.S. are pretty closely aligned here.”