A reader writes:
My wife's grandmother, uncle and aunt still live in Tehran and she spoke to them on Monday - they said that the atmosphere at the polling booth on Friday was unlike any other election since the revolution and hope for some real change soon. For what it's worth, not one of them thinks Obama should be saying anything more than he has - that's partly what made the Shah so hated. I would also say that anyone who doesn't think that Obama's No Ruz message and his speech in Cairo didn't contribute at least something to this uprising doesn't know any Iranians - the feeling of hope that Obama gave to Americans and people all over the world (rightly or wrongly…) has trickled down to Iranians. On a human level, as well, everyone knows how far a little respect can go.
Also for what it's worth, anybody who thinks that this is going to blow over soon should remember the revolution where exactly the same thing was said about the protestors against the Shah. Not saying it's the same thing but Iranians have staying power and have a talent for revisiting the same grievances for a long time (I'm thinking of the still fermenting ire about 1953; plus also personal dealings with my wife!).
I believe that the Obama election and the Mousavi election are in this narrow respect related. They both represent the yearning of people to get out of the cycle of confrontation and hatred that was propelling us all into the abyss after 9/11. They are utterly different and operationally unrelated. But the more we saw of those Mousavi rallies long before the actual vote, the clearer it was that something indeed was happening in Iran. They reminded me a lot - from their information technology, their youth-orientation, their dsire for change - of the Obama campaign.
One theory for much of the MSM's massive fail on this, I think, is that they didn't really cover the campaign.
If you weren't aware of what had happened in the weeks before the election, the sudden explosion of outrage wouldn't make much sense. But the expectations were everything. And as Tocqueville understood, nothing is more combustible than the dashing of raised expectations. That's how revolutions happen. But because the MSM hadn't covered the expectations, they had no resources to understand or cover the aftermath of the vote-stealing.
And this is why I remain hopeful. Because the curtain has been drawn back to reveal Iran's wizards of Oz. Because that moment never leaves consciousness. Because, to coin a phrase, "nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change."