On Friday, the Iranian government announced that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the presidential election, though observers, including his main challenger, cited irregularities — like text messaging being shut off and websites being dismantled — to call the results a fraud. But neoconservatives Richard Perle and Frank Gaffney blamed the election results on President Obama:
Richard Perle, a neoconservative and former Pentagon adviser, said Obama must share the blame for Ahmadinejad’s power grab. “Normally, when you unclench your fist it benefits the hardliners, because Obama appeared to be saying we can do business with you even with your present policies.” [...]
“It underscores the folly of the president’s basic premise that the problem we have with bad actors around the world is that they don’t understand us,” said Frank Gaffney, of the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank. “These people are thugs and they have been emboldened by our weakness.”
Similarly, this morning on ABC’s “This Week,” Mitt Romney insisted that the Iranian election result was a fraud — but also appeared to suggest that it was Obama’s fault that Ahmadinejad got reelected:
ROMNEY: The comments by the president last week, that there was a robust debate going on in iran, was obviously entirely wrong-headed. What has occurred is the election is a fraud, the results are inaccurate, and you’re seeing a brutal repression of the people as they protest. … It’s very clear that the president’s policies of going around the world and apologizing for America aren’t working. … Look, just sweet talk and criticizing America is not going to enhance freedom in the world.
On Meet the Press this morning, Vice President Biden said of the Ahmadinejad’s victory, “It didn’t seem on its face as clear-cut” as Ahmadinejad has suggested. “I have doubts” that it was a fair election, he added.
,Later on Meet the Press, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough seemed to rebut these right-wing claims, suggesting that President Obama’s outreach in Cairo “scared” the Iranian leaders into fixing the election:
SCARBOROUGH: You know, the law of unintended consequences came in again. I suspect that Cairo speech really scared the grand ayatollahs in Iran. If they were going to fix an election, this was the time to fix it, because the last thing they wanted to do was Barack Obama take credit for reformers winning in Iran, like they already have in Lebanon. And by the way, in the short term that’s bad news for us. I think in the long term, though — if the ayatollahs are seen stealing an election, as a result from what Barack Obama did in Cairo — I actually think that’s a positive for the United States and Iran in the long run.