In Washington, Iran isn’t about Mousavi, Khamenei or Neda, it’s about Obama. It’s a pincer movement. The establishment media behaves as if there’s some Geneva Convention stating that all international crises must have the American president in the starring role.
The right, meanwhile, see a golden opportunity to prove that a cuckoo has inveigled its way into the White House – and a Muslim-loving cuckoo at that. Take Andy McCarthy, a commentator at the National Review, who believes that as “a man of the hard Left, Obama is more comfortable with a totalitarian Islamic regime than he would be with a free Iranian society.”
It would have been political suicide to issue a statement supportive of the mullahs, so Obama’s instinct was to do the next best thing: to say nothing supportive of the freedom fighters. As this position became increasingly untenable politically, and as Democrats became nervous that his silence would become a winning political round for Republicans, he was moved grudgingly to burble a mild censure of the mullah’s “unjust” repression – on the order of describing a maiming as a regrettable “assault,” though enough for the Obamedia to give him cover.
Now, both sides have a smoking gun. Obama, the Washington Times tells us, has been writing love letters to the Supreme Leader himself, pleading for better relations, nuclear negotiations and an Iranian takeover of Kansas (I made the last bit up).
On Twitter, the paper’s national security reporter, Eli Lake, appears to have wet himself in excitement (as well as using the opportunity to suck up to his editor big time). She, Barbara Slavin, is putting “more Iran heat than Persian narcos” (eh?) with her bold exposé, he tweets.
Big news, eh? Except that we knew that a letter from Obama to Khamenei was being written in January. And that it was being sent in March. So why the surprise now? Because, whatever else is at stake, the most important thing we can do now is keep the spotlight on the demonstrators fuel another solipsistic partisan Washington squabble.
Update: Reagan managed this with more style, it must be said. His missive to the Iranians, at the outset of the Iran contra scandal, was a bible with a handwritten verse inside. Oliver North took a key shaped cake made by an Israeli baker.
Update the second: To be fair to Slavins, she has an email exchange with National Review’s K-Lo where she makes a great deal of sense.
Slavin: Apart from my paper, most journalists still write about Iran as though it is a theocracy. What we have been seeing is the raw exercise of force on the part of the government and people power in the streets. The clerics have had very little to do with it.
Lopez: What has been most surprising to you about the White House response to the election protests there?
Slavin: I haven’t been surprised by the White House response.
Lopez: Are there any lessons from history Obama ought to heed?
Slavin: I think Obama has learned from the mistakes of past U.S. administrations in dealing with Iran and has put the emphasis where it should be, on the legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people. The U.S. has no embassy in Iran and few levers it can pull to impact events there. Aggressive action through the military or more sanctions will probably wind up helping the government, unfortunately.