I've been in Deadline Hell the last week or so, so I haven't been able to follow anything closely. Over the weekend I saw that plenty of people are all up at arms about what's going on in Iran. Neocons are taking the events there as a call to fire up the bombers, righties want to figure a way to pin this on Obama, and people like Andrew Sullivan breathlessly relay every last twitter-feed as evidence of some full-blown revolution sweeping the country.
Here's my unvarnished and uninformed opinion...
None of these other people know much more than I do at this point. Take Sullivan for example: Photographs or personal accounts with no wider context are only slightly better than worthless. He paints a picture of a sea of Iranian citizens storming the castle and that the Iranian government as we knew it is over, yet he has readers on his sight claiming that most of Tehran is business as usual...Which is it? Calling for others to express support for what's happening there, yet overstating the situation could send people into a fucking buzzsaw. If there aren't really 500,000 other people marching to give cover, then there could be real problems for the people on the street.
Too many bloggers seem anxious to use the cracked skulls of Iranian protestors as a step up to proclaim "the death of the traditional media!" as well, and it's pretty unseemly. I don't doubt there is value in the man-on-the-street report, but come on... People in Europe might've assumed Yonkers was burning if these people were blogging the L.A. Riots.
As for how Obama is supposed to react to all of this? I think "troubled by events" is sufficient. It's not up to us to second-guess or try to have an impact on what happens in Iran. That last thing he should do is give Ahmadinejad a claim that "America is meddling." Obama needs to keep in mind that whoever emerges will be who he needs to negotiate with—and not to try and rig the game. And Joe Biden needs to shut his hole.
Sure, it'd be swell if Ahmadinejad lost in a clean election and handed over power as readily as Al Gore, but how fucking likely was that? It's up to the people in Iran to decide if they've had enough of this shit. There's been talk of a young, progresive movement in Iran for years—let this be their moment. Interference from outside can only make things worse, illegitimate, uglier, etc.
As far as I'm concerned, the "leading democracy on the planet" just had it's own Presidential election stolen a mere nine years ago, so we should shut the fuck up.
UPDATE: Hilzoy does a much better job articulating what I cursed and rambled about above... It's a fantastic piece.