THE U-TURN POLICY ON IRAN….The Bush administration’s policy on Iran was, for the most part, unambiguous. The president believed the United States should not take part in negotiations with the Iranians and Europeans, should not offer Iran nuclear fuel to be used in a peaceful nuclear energy program, and should not offer Iran any incentives that might “reward bad behavior.”

Indeed, any suggestions from Democrats that the administration try a more engaged, carrot-like approach was immediately dismissed as “appeasement.” Shortly before the 2004 presidential election, Condoleezza Rice told Fox News, “This regime has to be isolated in its bad behavior, not quote-unquote ‘engaged.’”

I’m glad to see the administration has come around to more progressive approach, but let’s not forget this is a world-class, Grade-A flip-flop.

The confidential diplomatic package backed by Washington and formally presented to Iran on Tuesday leaves open the possibility that Tehran will be able to enrich uranium on its own soil, U.S. and European officials said.

That concession, along with a promise of U.S. assistance for an Iranian civilian nuclear energy program, is conditioned on Tehran suspending its current nuclear work until the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency determines with confidence that the program is peaceful. U.S. officials said Iran would also need to satisfy the U.N. Security Council that it is not seeking a nuclear weapon, a benchmark that White House officials believe could take years, if not decades, to achieve.

But the Bush administration and its European allies have withdrawn their demand that Iran abandon any hope of enriching uranium for nuclear power, according to several European and U.S. officials with knowledge of the offer. The new position, which has not been acknowledged publicly by the White House, differs significantly from the Bush administration’s stated determination to prevent Iran from mastering technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons.

The Moose explained, “If a Kerry Administration had offered this deal, there would be the equivalent of conservative rioting in the streets. An impeachment resolution would be offered. The theme of the day on talk radio would be the betrayal of America.” I think this is absolutely right.

The same Bush administration that said it would isolate Iran — and which said we shouldn’t vote for Kerry because he might be inconsistent on national security matters — has offered Iran a very handsome package, including international aid on a nuclear reactor, airplane parts, and an enrichment program of its very own.

In other words, Bush’s new Iranian policy is to the left of where Kerry was during the ’04 campaign, when the GOP blasted Kerry’s approach as dangerously soft. What’s more, the administration has embraced the very policies it once denounced.

Insert joke about Bush being “against this policy before he was for it” here.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.