The Campaign Spot

What More Can Obama Do? Well . . .

The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz asks:

What would the Republicans do? Much of the GOP is having a fine time deriding President Obama’s cautious response to the massive street demonstrations in Iran. Why, they ask, isn’t he siding with the protesters against the repressive Ahmadinejad regime?Maybe they’re right. But the president doesn’t have the luxury of engaging in empty rhetoric. He has to thread the diplomatic needle in a difficult situation.

This is uncharacteristically off the mark for Kurtz. The Obama administration doesn’t have a ton of tools in the toolbox to use in this situation, but they do have a president who’s spent the better part of the last two years talking about how eager he was to hold summits with Iran’s head of government– without preconditions. But a summit with Iran would be unthinkable if there’s a Tianamen Square–style crackdown with hundreds dead — and with foreign media being shut down, that may be the regime’s plan. Obama — or even unnamed White House sources — could (and should) make clear that while Obama wants to meet, wants to talk, and wants to deal, he can’t shake a hand that has the blood of hundreds on it. That’s our little bit of leverage in this situation, and it ought to be used with this many lives at stake.

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