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Monday, June 15, 2009

Iran politics, American politics.

* NYU's Joshua Tucker: 'Don’t Expect This Week’s Protests To Lead To Revolution In Iran.'

* Suspect positionalities watch: Marc Ambinder says we should "follow the developments in Iran like a CIA analyst." I'm not sure that's quite the posture I'd recommending adopting—especially as it takes a stunningly doe-eyed view of the CIA—but the hermeneutic of general skepticism Ambinder advocates seems wise.

* Nate Silver analyzes that pre-election poll that's getting increasing attention today.

If you take that 30 percent swing vote and add it to Ahmadinejad's 33 percent base, he could have won the election with 63 percent of the vote, as he ostensibly did on Friday. If you take it and add it to Mousavi's column, Ahmadinejad would have gone down to a solid defeat.

The point that few commentators are realizing—Al Giordano is an exception—is that this story really isn't about the way that the votes were counted. It's about whether Iran is capable at this point of having an election in which the democratic will of its electorate is properly reflected. If Ahmadinejad hired a bunch of thugs to hold every Iranian at gunpoint while they were casting their ballots, it would not have been difficult for him to get 63 percent of the vote—indeed, he'd probably have wound up with very close to 100 percent. This would be an election—and there would be no need at all to tamper with the results. But it wouldn't be an expression of democracy. We need to separate out those two concepts. Ahmadinejad, as far as we know, did not go so far as to hold anyone at gunpoint. But the tentacles of fear in Iran run deep.
* Still more from Iran: details on the protester shot in Azadi Square today and big pictures from the Big Picture.

* Obama, political capital, and climate change: Matt Yglesias makes a good point.
The American presidency is a weird institution. If Barack Obama wants to start a war with North Korea and jeopardize the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, it’s not clear that anyone could stop him. If he wants to let cold-blooded murderers out of prison, it’s completely clear that nobody can stop him. But if he wants to implement the agenda he was elected on just a few months ago, he needs to obtain a supermajority in the United States Senate.
* And your attention please: Sonia Sotomayor is no longer a racist.