CANTOR’S CRAVEN CRITICISM…. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who has never demonstrated a working understanding of any public policy issue, released a press statement today blasting President Obama for not doing more to intervene on developments in Iran.

“We stand with the people of Iran in their struggle to participate in a democratic election and who deserve the right to freely assemble and voice their opposition to its questionable outcome.

“The Administration’s silence in the face of Iran’s brutal suppression of democratic rights represents a step backwards for homegrown democracy in the Middle East. President Obama must take a strong public position in the face of violence and human rights abuses. We have a moral responsibility to lead the world in opposition to Iran’s extreme response to peaceful protests.”

We’ve been over this, but Cantor’s a little slow on the uptake, so let’s review.

The more the United States intervenes in support of those Iranians sympathetic to the West, the less it helps those Iranians sympathetic to the West. Indeed, Cantor may have noticed — or then again, may he hasn’t — that we haven’t heard an outcry from reformers in Iran, imploring the Obama administration to speak out in support of their efforts.

There’s a reason: it’s their fight and they don’t want to look like U.S. stooges.

A senior administration official told the WaPo, “The fact is that there is clearly a debate going on among Iranians about Iran. It is not about us.”

Cantor is outraged by the administration’s “silence.” But in our reality, the administration hasn’t been “silent” — it’s been speaking out strategically, in statements and in media interviews, raising doubts about the legitimacy of the election. It’s not about passive disinterest; it’s about avoiding steps that would be counterproductive. If Iran’s regime is on the defensive, pushed by massive protests by Iranians taking to the streets, active U.S. intervention runs the risk of throwing Ahmadinejad a public-relations life preserver.

Gary Sick, a former National Security Council expert on Iran in the Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations — not, in other words, a liberal activist or party hack — explained, “The Obama administration has handled this pretty well. There’s nothing we can do in a proactive way that is going to improve things. We could make things a lot worse.”

That Cantor doesn’t understand this says more about his confusion than the president’s principles.

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.