Rich, I respectfully disagree, but I think we need to be clear on terms. You say, “Obama surely would rather have a free Iran than a dictatorial, anti-American one.” (Emphasis added.)
As between freedom and dictatorship, in principle Obama is fine with dictatorship — we are seeing less and less freedom in our own country, and I believe Obama (who is dirigiste by nature) values stability over the rambunctiousness of a free society. He has certain values, and while he’d be delighted to have a free society arrive at them, he’d rather see them imposed if the alternative was a free society likely to shun them.
As for “anti-American,” I think Obama’s sense of the term is different from yours and mine. Obama agrees with a lot of the anti-Americanism that we hear from both apologists for radical Islam and the Left (many of whom are the same people). While the mullahs may be “anti-American” as we understand that term, Obama doesn’t think they would be resolutely anti the America that he intends to shape. I think he sincerely believes he could deal with the mullahs and make them less anti-American than they now are, once they realize how he is reversing a lot of what offends them (and him) about America.
I’m not suggesting that Obama loves the mullahs or that he wants to turn America into Iran. I am not saying Obama wants the mullahs to abuse their own people — I’m sure he’d prefer this all to end without (further) bloodshed. I am merely saying that (a) the president does not think the mullahs are evil, (b) he thinks they have a point, (c) he thinks he can forge a rapprochement and deal effectively with them (though he is under no illusions about stopping their nuclear ambitions), (d) he is not a big believer in freedom, and (e) he thinks the world would be more stable and easier for him to navigate if the mullahs win.
Finally, I detect in your post a sense that I’m this close to the fringe. Saying, “whatever policy differences we have with him,” is generally a prelude to claiming that some objection that has been lodged is beyond the realm of acceptable argument. I’ll say two things about that. First, if you look at the sweeping changes that have occurred in the past five months, I think what I argued before the election about the significance of Obama’s Leftist background and radical connections was on the mark. Second, I am saying what I am saying because I respect the president. As I said in the last post, I don’t think he is weak at all. To the contrary, I think he has strategic goals that he pursues in highly disciplined, tactical pragmatism. He is a force to be reckoned with, and I don’t think you reckon with him by hopefully assuming that, on some level, he shares our ideas about what’s best for the country and the world. I credit him for wanting what’s best — but only as he sees it.