It’s being reported that President Obama’s tone on the recent violence in Iran changed dramatically yesterday in his first non-prime time press briefing. He condemned the violence against protesters and used words like "appalled" and "outraged". But is that enough?
His hard-hitting words make his approach sound stern, but Obama also said yesterday that he is still leaving open the possibility to negotiate with Iran.
“I think it is not too late for the Iranian government to recognize that there is a peaceful path that will lead to stability and legitimacy and prosperity for the Iranian people. We hope they take it,” Obama said in his opening statement.
The American Enterprise Institute’s Irantracker.org reports 1,364,975 protesters, 1146 arrests and 184 deaths. What numbers constitute too late?
Obama’s very first question from was from an AP reporter. “Your administration has said that the offer to talk to Iran’s leaders remains open. Can you say if that’s still so, even with all the violence that has been committed by the government against the peaceful protesters? And if it is, is there any red line that your administration won’t cross where that offer will be shut off?” asked Jennifer Loven.
“We don’t know how they’re going to respond yet, and that’s what we’re waiting to see,” said Obama in short.
“So there should be consequences?” Loven asked again. Obama still answered with a “wait and see” approach, just as he did with several other reporters who pushed the same question through out the briefing.
“You have avoided twice spelling out consequences,” said NBC’s Chuck Todd. “…why wont you spell out the consequences that the Iranian — ”
“Because I think, Chuck, that we don’t know yet how this thing is going to play out. I know everybody here is on a 24-hour news cycle. I’m not,” interrupted Obama.
This is the first we have seen of the “aggressive” White House reporter. What took them so long?
We found out in yesterday’s briefing as well that the White House’s invitation to Iranian diplomats for the U.S. embassy barbecues for the July 4 holiday still stands.
This is the first invitation the diplomats have received since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
“We don’t have formal diplomatic relations with Iran,” said Obama “I think that we have said that if Iran chooses a path that abides by international norms and principles, then we are interested in healing some of the wounds of 30 years, in terms of U.S.-Iranian relations. But that is a choice that the Iranians are going to have to make.”
“But the offer still stands?” asked FOX News again.
“That’s a choice the Iranians are going to have to make,” said a testy Obama, still dodging the question.
The Iranian regime has not chosen a path that abides by international norms — as government leaders still threaten violence against protesters and more like Nede Agha Soltan die each day. But the party is still on, folks.
What kind of message does Obama’s invitation send to the Iranian people who are fighting for the very rights we have here in the United States and celebrate on July 4?