"We the people..."
"The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, the beatings and imprisonments of the last few days," Obama said, to open the press conference. "I strongly condemn these unjust actions, and I join with the American people in mourning each and every innocent life that is lost."
But the angrier tone didn't mean the White House wanted to get drawn into a debate with Iran's ruling cleric, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has been trying to blame the country's unrest on the U.S., the United Kingdom, Zionists, the Appalachian Trail -- pretty much anyone except himself. Though GOP critics have been pushing for a harder line from Washington since the crisis started, Obama wouldn't budge. The White House is still playing a high-stakes game, trying to show support for the protesters, couched in terms of universal human rights, without making the demonstrations about the U.S.
"This tired strategy of using old tensions to scapegoat other countries won't work anymore in Iran," Obama said. "This is not about the United States or the West; this is about the people of Iran and the future that they -- and only they -- will choose."
"The Iranian people can speak for themselves. That's precisely what's happened in the last few days." Read more...
"If our intention is to help, we have to first listen to the people in Iran rather than to pretend to speak for them without ever having had consulted with them."