Iran's post-election tumult has exposed the sharply divergent ways in which the Obama administration and its Republican opponents view the nature of American power and the president's role in speaking to political dissent outside the borders of the United States.
The debate over how far Obama should go in encouraging the protesters who returned to the streets of Tehran amid clouds of tear gas Monday has emboldened Republicans, who see an opportunity to criticize his foreign policy as too timid. In recent days, GOP leaders have invoked the unambiguous Cold War rhetoric of Ronald Reagan as the model for the message Obama should be sending to the demonstrators, citing the inspiration it provided to millions of dissidents behind the Iron Curtain.
But Obama’s shades-of-gray approach rejects comparison to an era when communist bloc dissidents had virtually no access to the Western media and the world was more neatly divided between a pair of superpowers, not complicated by the set of ambitious regional powers such as Iran that the Obama administration is seeking to manage.
Obama’s approach to Iran, including his assertion that the unrest there represents a debate among Iranians unrelated to the United States, is an acknowledgment that a U.S. president’s words have a limited ability to alter foreign events in real time and could do more harm than good.
But privately Obama advisers are crediting his Cairo speech for inspiring the protesters, especially the young ones, who are now posing the most direct challenge to the republic’s Islamic authority in its 30-year history.
So his awesome speech inspired this massive response to a repressive regime that is shooting it's citizens in the streets after a contested election, but he can't bring himself to strongly condemn the Iranian regime for it's actions; and instead calls it an "internal matter" for Iranians to decide.
Must be too busy blowing himself over what a great president he is.
Read the rest here