Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Very Concerned About Just Being “Very Concerned”

This is on the mark:

President Obama’s tepid response to the evidence the Iranian election was stolen from the people of that country by current president President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his thuggish allies is disappointing.

[. . .]

The president says he entertains “deep concerns about the election” in Iran. Well, who doesn’t? Expressing concern is “nice,” it’s “diplomatic”–in the worst sense–but it is not sufficient to the circumstance, as Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are reportedly arguing within the White House.

Hmm. Krauthammer? Kristol? Maybe McCain? No, it’s John Nichols of  the Nation. Not everyone on the Left made excuses and encouraged the president’s shabby performance this week. But perhaps if there had been fewer liberal apologists, the president and his spinners would have adjusted the White House rhetoric sooner so as not to fritter away the moral authority and political capital of the presidency just 6 months into office.

And now we see the latest from Iran:

The eyewitnesses described fierce clashes near Revolution Square in central Tehran after some 3,000 protesters chanted “Death to the dictator!” and “Death to dictatorship!” Police responded with tear gas and water cannons.

The witnesses told The Associated Press that between 50 and 60 protesters were seriously beaten by police and pro-government militia and taken to Imam Khomeini hospital in central Tehran. People could be seen dragging away comrades bloodied by baton strikes.

(And more pictures and coverage here.)

Finally, after these events and the chorus of criticism (plus Congressional action), the president has been forced to drop his studied neutrality, declaring the Iranian regime’s action to be “violent” and “unjust.” The New York Times reports:

“We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost,” he said, adding: “Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

“Martin Luther King once said: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ ” I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.”

This is belated but welcome. (For those keeping track, they may want to recall the statement which Joe Lieberman issued on June 14.) Perhaps after a whole week of cringe-inducing passivity,  saner voices prevailed upon the president. Maybe now the White House realizes it is time to get on the right side of history. And those apologists who cheered Obama’s paralysis will of course now celebrate the more robust language. This is what they wanted all along, right? Well, hardly, but the criticism of those conservatives and some brave Democrats who pleaded with the president to get off the fence will go down the memory hole. The president’s spinners now will no longer need to excuse the inexcusable. What a relief that must be.