Jonah Goldberg

Do it, President Obama, please. Take the side of democracy.

Declare yourself and your nation on the side of hope and change where it is more than a slogan and better than a rationalization for ever-bigger government. Stop measuring the success of your diplomacy with Iran by the degree to which the grinning, hate-filled stooge of a clerical junta will "temper" his rhetoric about the pressing need to destroy Israel and slow his ineluctable pursuit of nuclear weapons.

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Instead, choose a higher standard. Look to history. Look to the aspirations of the students risking their lives and livelihoods to protest a sham election. Stop fawning over the mythological Muslim street only when it hates America, and look to the real Iranian street at the moment of its greatest need, when its heart may be open to loving America.

You often invoke President Kennedy's pledge to put a man on the moon to justify your domestic agenda. You and your supporters invite comparisons to Camelot. Well, what of John F. Kennedy's most solemn vow? "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

No, we should not bomb Iran, or invade it. Those prices are too steep; those burdens are too heavy. But maybe you could lift a finger for democracy?

During the campaign you mocked those who belittled your rhetoric as "just words." Well, what you've offered so far is less than just words. You've put a fresh coat of whitewash on Iran's sham "democracy." On Monday, you proclaimed yourself "troubled" by the events in Iran, before hinting that you'd negotiate with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad no matter what an official investigation into his "landslide" victory found. (Would you trust Mafia internal audits, too?)

Before the sham election you cheered Iran's "robust debate." But that debate has been robust only if you are grading on a curve. Ahmadinejad's main opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, was an accidental reform candidate. The mullahs had disqualified about 400 others, leaving in the race only four presumed hacks deemed pliant enough not to rock the boat. Mousavi's popular support and the robustness of the debate he ignited were an unintended consequence of a rigged election and a clerical politburo indifferent to its people's desires, not the intention of a democratic regime.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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