The Fifty-Fourth Vote

Will Barack get his groove back? Last week, House Republicans forced our carefully-calibrated president off his benchmark with a series of votes culminating in a 405-1 bipartisan vote rejecting Obama’s shameful failure to stand with the courageous Iranians demonstrating — at the risk of their lives — against the ayatollahs’ rejection of freedom

If you listen to Obama’s cat’s paw media, the first fifty-three votes — on elements of a big appropriations bill — were nothing more than Republican obstructionism.  But no: they were forcing the Democrats to take positions for which voters could hold them accountable. There would have been more but for the fact that — for the second time this year — Democrats changed the rules to prevent voters from learning the rather sordid details.

The fifty-fourth vote was by far the most important because it put America on record — as we have always been — on the side of freedom. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind), chairman of the House Republican Conference (along with Democratic Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman of California) introduced H. Res. 560, which expressed clear support for the Iranian demonstrators and condemned the violence against them by the Iranian regime.

Pence’s resolution passed by 405-1.  It was a major break with Obama by the Democrats.  

Before Pence’s resolution, Obama had said almost nothing about the Iranian regime’s repression of the demonstrators and its insistence — as Ayatollah Khamenei said — that the supposed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was “a blessing.”

It’s a wonder that Khamenei’s words didn’t make Politico’s list of the weeks’ best political quotes. The list ranged from presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs’ gibe about reporters’ cell phones to Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D-Calif.) admonishment to a general to stop calling her “ma’am.”  (The only conservative words to make the page were Carrie Prejean’s expression of excitement at meeting Obama at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Dinner. I can easily forgive the California beauty’s words. I was perversely excited at meeting Bill Clinton at a long-ago White House event, though after we’d shaken hands my only desire was to wash).

Somehow, the Obama-worshipers at Politico missed the words that moved our president to hit the reset button.  At their Friday presser, talking about the Iran resolution, the Republican leaders shamed Obama.

Recalling Ronald Reagan’s momentous Berlin Wall speech, Pence derided those such as Obama who said we should remain silent because we didn’t want to be meddling in Iran’s affairs.  

Pence said, “Some observers say that America should remain silent in the wake of extraordinary violence and repression that has dominated the airwaves of the world from Iran in the last week.  But I say, from my heart: the American cause is freedom. And in this cause the American people will never be silent.”

Also unworthy of Politico’s page was Pence’s stinging rebuke of Obama: “When Ronald Reagan went before the Brandenburg Gate, he did not say Mr. Gorbachev, that wall is none of our business."

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga) didn’t make Politico’s page either.  Price reminded us of the value that others had placed in American presidents’ words.  Price said, “I stand with men and women who understand that liberty is enduring and that tyranny is temporary.  The United States is a beacon of freedom in the dark corners of the world.  Think about history: Alexandr Solzhenitsyn and the Gulag, Lech Walesa in Poland. Once they gained their freedom, they talked about the uplifting effect of the words coming from the United States defending their liberty and defending their freedom. Now should be no different.”

In 1982, in the midst of communist repression of Lech Walesa’s Solidarity movement, Ronald Reagan proclaimed “Solidarity Day.”  In the proclamation, Reagan wrote, “By persecuting Solidarity, the Polish military government wages war against its own people.”

Lech Walesa — founder of the Solidarity movement and later Polish president — wrote in 2004, “When talking about Ronald Reagan, I have to be personal. We in Poland took him so personally. Why? Because we owe him our liberty. This can’t be said often enough by people who lived under oppression for half a century, until communism fell in 1989.”

After Pence introduced the House resolution, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduced a parallel resolution in the Senate, which also passed.

On Friday, Obama went a tiny bit farther, asking Iran to “stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people.”  And by Sunday, he’d managed to say — in an interview with a Pakistani newspaper — that we need to stand behind peaceful demonstrators.

But that is not nearly enough.  

With a stubbornness bred of naïveté, Obama is clinging to the idea of negotiation with Iran and is refusing to let the protesters — no matter how many the ayatollahs’ Basij thugs and police kill — interfere. He is wrong, terribly so. Last week’s fifty-fourth vote should just be the beginning because the ground has shifted under the president. Obama must do more, and Republicans must continue to demand action.

California Democrat Sen. Diane Feinstein said that she’d been briefed on our covert operations, and that we were not interfering with Iran in any way.  The question Republicans must now ask is, why not?

Iran’s “internal affairs” are our business so long as the regime remains a sponsor of international terrorism and as long as it continues its effort to arm itself and its terror proxies with nuclear weapons.  By their actions, they’ve made their internal affairs our business.  It is in no one’s best interests — except the ayatollahs — for us to remain on the sidelines.  

Overtly, we must “meddle” by the words of our president, and if he continues to refuse, by Republican leaders.  Covertly, we can do much, and we must.  

As Rep. Pete Hoesktra (R-Mich.) suggested in a television interview, covert aid to Iranian opposition groups — funding, provision of cell phones and other means of communication — should flood into the hands of the protesters.  

As President Obama said, the world is watching.  But it is watching us as closely as it is watching the carnage in Iran.  As Churchill said, it’s no use saying we are doing our best.  We have to succeed in doing what is necessary.