As demonstrators have taken to the streets, Ahmadinejad has cut off cell phone service to prevent text messages, pictures and video from cell phones showing images of the demonstrations from getting to the outside world. He has banned international media from covering the demonstrations..And demonstrators have been beaten, arrested, and imprisoned and are risking life and limb to be on the streets protesting what seems obvious is a dishonest outcome.
And what has been President Obama's response to all this? His response came from p.15 of the Politician's Handbook of Hackneyed Responses. He said he was "deeply troubled". Not exactly awe inspiring.
He also said, as demonstrators were being shot and killed, that it just wouldn't do for the United States to "be seen meddling in the affairs of Iran." This practically redefines the expression, "mealy mouthed".
So why doesn't Obama want to make statements that might seem like he is meddling in the affairs of country that is now in turmoil over what may have been a rigged election that keeps a lunatic dictator in power? Is he afraid that if he speaks out too forcefully Ahmadinejad won't take his phone calls? Is he afraid Ahmadeinejad will get mad at him and wont meet with him if he offers an unconditional meeting? What exactly does Obama think is going to happen if he speaks out forcefully on the side of democracy and the Iranian demonstrators? That Ahmedinejad will accuse him of meddling?
Ahmadinejad himself doesn't seem too concerned about being seen as meddling in the affairs of another country when he threatens to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Maybe Obama doesn't want to meddle in that either. But as hundreds of thousands of Iranians take to the streets defying the tyranny of Amadinejad and the forces in Iran responsible for what is certainly a rigged election, Obama says he doesn't want to be making statements that would be seen as "meddling".
Not exactly a beacon of courage and democracy. But here is what Obama could have said.
"Even by the official count, more than 14 million Iranians voted for Moussavi and hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Iranians are taking to the streets to protest what they believe was a rigged election. It is up to the responsible parties in Iran to investigate and prove to their own people, that either the election results were completely fair and accurate or, if they find that there were any irregularities or fraud as the demonstrators believe, to hold new free and fair elections".
Now does that sound like meddling?
Of course President Obama did say he believed that voices must be heard and every vote must count ( as long as you don't live in Florida and Michigan and vote against him in a primary) and one has to wonder if being the product of a rigged Democratic convention that secured his nomination, has made him a little gun shy when it comes to protesting too much over a rigged election in Iran.
But so far his response to the turmoil in Iran and the uprising of so many of its people over what looks like a stolen election and a protest against a dictator who is a threat to the rest of the world, has been less than inspiring, Chris Matthews goose bumps over Obama's speeches notwithstanding.
The White House has tried to portray this as a "balancing act" with President Obama walking a tightrope. Nonsense. If he is walking a tightrope it is one of his own choosing for reasons that have no real substance other than perhaps he doesn't want to get Ahmedenejad mad at him. It has no diplomatic value.It is just someone afraid to take a stand.
So if being"deeply troubled" is all President Obama can muster, if that's all he can give the Iranian demonstrators, if he continues to watch the demonstations in the streets as the protestors stand up to Ahmedenejad, maybe there is something they can give him. Courage.
UPDATE: On Saturday June 20th, Obama decided to issue a more forceful statement concerning Iran, perhaps feeling the pressure and the criticism for his original tepid response. And given the last statement I made about perhaps the demonstrators would give Obama the courage to speak out, part of Obama's new statement referred to the courage of the demonstrators. So maybe they did.
The Congress also chose to speak out on Friday passing overwhelming resolutions in both houses, condemning the government of Iran for it's crackdown on the demonstrators and expressing solidarity with the protestors demonstrating on behalf of democracy.
Perhaps this has made Obama feel like he is being left out of the loop. Either way he has now decided a little meddling is in order.