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Battered Presidents Syndrome

2:02 PM, Nov 4, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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It's like Battered Wives Syndrome, except President Obama is the bride with the black eye and Ayatollah Khameini is the abusive husband. And Obama keeps coming back for more. Yesterday the Supreme Leader publicly ridiculed Obama's repeated diplomatic overtures, saying that talks with the United States would be "naive and perverted."

Khamenei said he had responded in March to Obama's overtures, referring to a speech in which he said he would wait for changes in U.S. policy toward Iran before reassessing ties.

Since then, Khamenei said, "what we have witnessed is completely the opposite of what they have been saying and claiming. On the face of things, they say, ‘Let's negotiate.' But alongside this, they threaten us and say that if these negotiations do not achieve a desirable result, they will do this and that. … Whenever they smile at the officials of the Islamic revolution, when we carefully look at the situation, we notice that they are hiding a dagger behind their back," he said. "They have not changed their intentions."

So what does the Obama administration do? It puts out a pathetic statement marking the anniversary of the Iran hostage crisis. And read the statement closely. After presenting as evidence of good faith a series of gestures made by this administration to the thugs that rule Iran, the president declares that "We have heard for thirty years what the Iranian government is against; the question, now, is what kind of future it is for."

Does that rhetoric sound familiar? It should -- because it's exactly the formulation that Obama uses to chastise his domestic political opponents. Just two weeks ago, Biden attacked critics of the stimulus in exactly the same language:

People forget we were in a free fall with the economy," he said. "There would be a million more unemployed people without this. But listen to the critics. We know what they're against, but what are they for?"

This administration seems not to comprehend the difference between governing and campaigning, the difference between domestic political opposition and foreign enemies. To treat the mullahs in Iran like they are a bunch of recalcitrant Republicans is further evidence of how dangerously unserious this administration is about the threat we face from that regime.

Update: A smart observer emails:

Meanwhile, the Iranian protesters are starting to ask who President Obama is for. As the NYTimes reports, "a new theme emerged on Wednesday, with many protesters declaring their impatience with President Obama's policy of dialogue with the Iranian government. Many could be heard chanting: ‘Obama, Obama -- either you're with them or you're with us,' witnesses said."

Unfortunately, Obama's statement today gave them no encouragement. The fact is, President Obama and his administration remain objectively on the side of the Tehran government in its pitched battle with the opposition.