OBAMA0619SaulLoeb:Getty

Roger Cohen:

The president has been right to tread carefully, given poisonous American-Iranian history, but has erred on the side of caution. He sounds like a man rehearsing prepared lines rather than the leader of the free world. A stronger condemnation of the violence and repression is needed, despite Khamenei's warnings. Obama should also rectify his erroneous equating, from the U.S. national security perspective, of Ahmadinejad and Moussavi.

Timing is everything. I think caution is better at this point. Gibbs still sounds very cautious. Obama's latest comment on Khamenei's speech:

And I'm very concerned based on some of the tenor -- and tone of the statements that have been made -- that the government of Iran recognize that the world is watching. And how they approach and deal with people who are, through peaceful means, trying to be heard will, I think, send a pretty clear signal to the international community about what Iran is and -- and is not.

The irony of neoconservative criticism is, of course, that many of them harangued Obama for his Cairo speech which was probably more influential on what just happened than anything the president could say now.

(Photo: Obama today by Saul Loeb/Getty.)

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