Opinion: Columnists

Iran and the last debate

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Photo - In this photo released by an official website of the Iranian supreme leader's office, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses  a large group of Basij militia, during his tour in northeastern Iran, on Monday, Oct. 15, 2012. Iranian officials have made no secret about their desire to reopen nuclear talks with the U.S. and other world powers as economic sanctions dig deeper _ with Iran's supreme leader even depicting his envoys as waiting at the negotiating table. Khamenei has said Iran will withstand the "conspiracies and tricks" of its foes, including sanctions and "talk of military aggression." But he also said Iran has never stepped away from the nuclear talks, which were last held in Moscow in June. (AP Photo/Office of the Supreme Leader)
In this photo released by an official website of the Iranian supreme leader's office, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses a large group of Basij militia, during his tour in northeastern Iran, on Monday, Oct. 15, 2012. Iranian officials have made no secret about their desire to reopen nuclear talks with the U.S. and other world powers as economic sanctions dig deeper _ with Iran's supreme leader even depicting his envoys as waiting at the negotiating table. Khamenei has said Iran will withstand the "conspiracies and tricks" of its foes, including sanctions and "talk of military aggression." But he also said Iran has never stepped away from the nuclear talks, which were last held in Moscow in June. (AP Photo/Office of the Supreme Leader)

Iran's reported willingness to engage in talks over its nuclear ambitions is exactly the sort of "breakthrough" that President Obama did not need on the eve of tonight's last debate.

It is a "breakthrough" that underscores just how great a failure his policy vis-?-vis Iran has been for four long years.

President Obama staked everything on his ability to appeal to the mullahs as a different sort of American president.

So great was his confidence in his own charisma and destiny that he stood by and watched the brutal suppression of the Green Revolution from the sidelines.

So certain was the president in the power of his own words that he was willing to put distance between our country and its most reliable ally in the region, refusing even to meet with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when the leader of the Jewish state requested a sit-down this fall.

Iran's frontman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has never encouraged the president's fantasies, never given the slightest indication that his regime, built on terror and blood, would respond with anything other than more terror and more blood, but still the president persisted.

Now comes this new report of a new willingness to deal. The left, desperate as the Obama campaign collapses into one-liners about Big Bird in binders and burdened by the president's "not optimal" pratfall after Joe Biden's histrionics and the worst loss in debate history, is grasping at "the opening" to Iran.

Thus does "hope and change" re-enter the president's lexicon: We are to hope that Iran has finally changed, and on the basis of that hope ignore the accumulated and colossal errors of Obama's record abroad.

If Bob Schieffer does his job tonight, here are the questions we will hear about Iran:

Mr. President, does the prospect of new talks with Iran over its nuclear program justify your administration's silence when the Green Revolution broke out in Iran in 2009?

Mr. President, do you expect Russia to change its policy vis-?-vis Iran despite its refusal to do so after you "reset" relations with it, and was the abandonment of our commitments to Poland and the Czech Republic regarding missile defense worth it given Russia's refusal to assist in cabining the Islamic republic?

Mr. President, the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu requested a meeting with you because Iran is poised to cross what he called "red lines." Did that refusal send the wrong message to the world?

Mr. President, why would we ever trust a regime that has repeatedly lied about its nuclear ambitions, conducted terrorism abroad and actually overseen the murder of Americans in Iraq and dispatched terrorists to attempt to enter the U.S. for the purpose of conducting terrorist attacks on our soil?

There are numerous other questions that must be asked about the president's failed policies abroad and his defense-destroying budgeting at home, such as his unwillingness to intervene to stop the devastating "sequestration" of the Department of Defense's budget and what the president meant when he whispered an assurance of greater flexibility to Russia's then president Medvedev that was to be passed along to its new Tsar Putin.

And of course there are all the questions about the failure to secure our consulate and our personnel in Libya and the cover-up that followed.

But given the importance being attached by some to this latest deception from the radicals in Teheran, Mr. Schieffer should come prepared to press hard for answers on the president's greatest failure: his inability to stop Iran from going nuclear.

Examiner Columnist Hugh Hewitt is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who blogs daily at HughHewitt.com.

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