8:59 AM, Jun 17, 2009 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
In an interview with CNBC yesterday, President Obama once again went out of his way to downplay the protests on the streets of Iran.
"Well, I think first of all, it's important to understand that although there is amazing ferment taking place in Iran, that the difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi in terms of their actual policies may not be as great as has been advertised."
If Obama had made this statement before the election, it would have been accurate. And perhaps it's still true. But there is always the possibility that Mousavi becomes the leader the protesters rallying on the streets -- many of them in his name -- want him to be. (And it's worth pointing out that Joe Klein, who has praised Obama's handling of the current crisis, acknowledges the difference between the two on nuclear weapons, though he says, accurately, that the mullahs are the ones that matter.)
But the bigger question is why, with millions of Iranians protesting Ahmadinejad's repressive rule, Obama would say anything that would be seen as diminishing those efforts? Does he actually prefer Ahmadinejad?
Many Iranians are on the streets for two reasons: 1) they believe the election was fraudulent, or, 2) they support Mousavi.
Obama has said that he admires the protesters, but never that he supports them. And he has carefully avoided directly casting doubt on the election results (only acknowledging that others believe this). He has pretended that the "investigation" into the outcome will be a serious undertaking. And now he needlessly undercuts Mousavi?
His policy is regime preservation. And it's a disgrace.
UPDATE: See Jennifer Rubin, smart as usual, here.