THE Iranian situation becomes more and more difficult to read. Those memorable marching protesters of the past in Budapest or in Prague against Soviet Union domination are not precedents because the religious dimension that is so important in Tehran was not a factor in those East European cities. So President Obama has been right from the start to keep his cool and issue only statements that could not possibly be interpreted as interference in Iran's sovereignty. It would not have been thus with President Bush or with a President McCain. The Republicans are angry because they don't want to give Barack Obama any kind of support, even on an issue of such importance, yet have nothing constructive to offer. Mitt Romney, still a significant figure in the party, was last week reduced to alleging that the Iran crisis showed President Obama's policy of going round the world apologising for America isn't working. Barack Obama waited almost three days before making any loaded comment on Iran, when he said he was deeply troubled by the violence against protesters; he has avoided mentioning the protesters' leader Hosein Mousavi by name and he has more than once said that it is for the Iranians to make their own decisions. The extent to which White House comment has been controlled is shown by the fact that the strongest statement by the excitable Vice President Joe Biden has been to admit to having doubts about what is happening.
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