Yesterday, President Obama explained his relative public silence with regard to the situation in Iran, saying, “It’s not productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling, the U.S. president meddling in Iranian elections.” Later in the day, on Radio America’s Dateline Washington, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) responded to Obama’s measured statements on Iran by calling him a “cream puff” and predicting that under Obama’s leadership “things” will get “very bad, very quickly”:
DATELINE: What is the best way to approach this? … President Obama though says that we don’t want to take sides too publicly because then the ruling regime there could use us as the straw man to beat back this public uprising. How do you read this?
ROHRABACHER: Well I think that Mr. Obama, if he continues to have these types of attitudes, we’re going to see things get very bad, very quickly. Already the North Koreans have challenged him and realized that he’s a cream puff, if that is what he is indeed going to be as a President.… [N]ow if the Mullahs in Iran are permitted to just roll over opposition something like Tienanmen square, we will have missed a great opportunity.
Later in the interview, Rohrabacher said that he had distributed a video to the people of Iran that declared “we’re with them, be courageous, don’t let this moment go by” and that Ronald Reagan “always knew that — at the very least — we should be vocally supportive of all those people who are oppressed.” Listen here:
Rohrabacher’s view of Obama’s actions on Iran is not shared by some of his Republican colleagues in Congress or even some conservative commentators. Indeed, as Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) said on CBS’s Early Show yesterday, “I think for the moment our position is to allow the Iranians to work out their situation.” Likewise, Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) told Politico that Obama should “absolutely not” be more forceful on Iran. Pat Buchanan wrote on the conservative TownHall.com that “[t]he Obama policy of extending an open hand to Iran is working and ought not be abandoned because of the grim events in Tehran.”
But perhaps the most compelling endorsement of the Obama administration’s reaction to the election crisis in Iran came from Morehead Kennedy, who was held hostage for 444 days by Iranian revolutions while serving as acting head of the U.S. Embassy’s economic section in Tehran in 1979. In an interview with the Daily Beast, Kennedy “praised Joe Biden’s reaction to the protesters Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, in which the vice president cast doubt on the election results but shied away from a more pronounced condemnation.” “It’s very counterproductive to interfere in someone else’s election. I think the best thing the U.S. can do is shut up,” he said.
Matt Yglesias writes, “[P]eople who work full-time, all-the-time on the difficult issues of democracy, human rights, and humanitarianism are much less interested in tough talk and posturing than are political pundits who like to parachute into situations and start demanding maximalist rhetoric.”