It's become almost a parlor game to watch Obamaphiles spin the president's response to events in Iran. Uninfatuated observers have noticed that the president displayed a tepid and unsatisfying neutrality to events in the streets of Iran following the sham election -- just as he had done last summer when the Russians staged an invasion of Georgia. His first instinct was to preserve his bona fides for negotiating with the mullahs -- bona fides that he has been at pains to demonstrate over the past several months. Starting last January, President Obama put doubts about the nature of the regime in Tehran to one side and offered blandishments to the leadership of what he was careful to call "the Islamic Republic." In his Cairo speech, the president begged forgiveness for the U.S. role in a 1953 coup. U.S. embassies worldwide were instructed to invite Iranian diplomats to July 4 parties. By so doing President Obama granted legitimacy to the mullahs and suggested that the U.S. -- under new enlightened leadership -- was now a worthy interlocutor. At just that moment, the people of Iran told the world how thoroughly detestable and illegitimate the Islamofascist regime is. This must surely have been one of the worst cases of presidential timing in living memory.
Yet Obama's ardent supporters stand ready to interpret any world event as evidence of Obama's messianic effect. Matthew Stannard, in the San Francisco Chronicle, noted that unnamed "Analysts suggested that President Obama's rhetoric of extending an open hand to old rivals, culminating in his widely watched speech to the Islamic world from Egypt on June 4, may have pushed reform-minded voters to the polls in Iran." The New York Times asked, "Could there be something to all the talk of an Obama effect, after all? A stealth effect, perhaps?"
Isn't this a kind of arrogance? Isn't it further the kind of arrogance -- an overweening emphasis on the importance of the United States -- that the left usually attributes to conservatives?
There is no more evidence that the revolt under way in Iran (if it succeeds, it will be called a revolution) is attributable to the "Obama effect" than there is that it is the result of a George W. Bush effect. How could Bush be involved? Well, you could make an argument that all of those purple fingers in neighboring Iraq aroused a certain longing for democracy among Iranians.