Given that the Obama administration worked last night with House Democrats to soften the language of Rep. Mike Pence’s (R-Ind.) Iran resolution — which passed by a 405-1 margin today — it should come as no surprise that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs just now told reporters, “we welcome the resolution.” The current language is pretty much what Iranian human rights groups want, even if they didn’t want Congress to pronounce such sentiments, namely support for human rights and condemnation of violence “by the Government of Iran and pro-government militias.” That’s the first time that the Obama administration has signed on to an attribution of responsibility for the violence. Gibbs called it a “quibble.” It isn’t.
But what also shouldn’t come as a surprise is Republicans pretending like the resolution represents a massive departure from the administration’s rhetoric, either. Nowhere in the resolution does it actively support any side or party in Iran, as the administration has refused to do, and every word about human rights is commensurate with what President Obama has said himself. It’s ludicrous for, say, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to say that Obama should “follow the lead of this House” in supporting a resolution that passed because of White House intervention. But this is a stunt for House Republicans to demonstrate their relevance and use the demonstrations as a cudgel against Obama. It should be fairly clear from all the bloviations about Ronald Reagan defeating the Soviet Union by sheer force of will that the GOP doesn’t care about the prospect of U.S. intervention being counterproductive for the Iranian opposition. Indeed, if the regime cracks down on the protesters over the next several days, watch to see Republicans and conservatives lining up to say it’s because Obama didn’t take a stronger stand, whatever that means.
Still, the Obama administration made its bed by working with the resolution. Adam Blickstein at Democracy Arsenal says to expect several days’ worth of self-congratulatory GOP rhetoric pretending that Obama hasn’t said what he’s said or intervened to pass the resolution.
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