PENCE’S POOR PLAN…. George W. Bush’s top negotiator with Iran, Ambassador Nicholas Burns, believes President Obama has shown sound judgment by showing restraint in the midst of developments in Iran. Burns told NPR, “President Ahmadinejad would like nothing better than to see aggressive statements, a series of statements, from the United States which try to put the U.S. at the center of this, and I think President Obama is avoiding that, quietly rightly.”

Leave it to congressional Republicans to try step in and give Ahmadinejad the rhetorical life-preserver he’s been waiting for. Here’s a statement this afternoon from Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), the #3 leader in the House Republican conference, on his new congressional resolution on the Iranian election.

“Today I’m introducing a resolution that … express its concern regarding the reported irregularities of the presidential election of 12 June, 2009. It will condemn the violence against demonstrators by pro-government militia in Tehran in the wake of the elections. It will affirm our belief in the universality of individual rights and the importance of democratic and fair elections. And lastly, and most importantly, it will express the support of the American people for all Iranian citizens who struggle for freedom, civil liberties and the protection of the rule of law.”

Adam Blickstein’s response was spot on.

There is nothing that the very people Pence is decrying would like more than to show how this is an “us versus America” battle and paint the dissidents and Mousavi as tools of the American government. And creating at least an appearance of disunity in the American government provides ample ammunition for the regime and Ahmadinajad government to do just that. Pence is treading on some pretty dangerous ground, and he will invariably become a talking point for the thugs and Iranian officials who are attacking the opposition and embarking on violent suppression of dissident Iranians. I just hope Pence understands that political posturing like this should stop at the water’s edge, especially when thousands of lives and the future of a nation are at stake.

This note, from an Andrew Sullivan reader, also reinforces the sense that Obama has it right, and his detractors have it wrong: “I’m an Iranian living in Canada. A few hours ago I talked to my brother who is a student at Sharif University, he was at the big rally yesterday and they were only feet away from Karoubi when they marched from the university entrance to Azadi square. He asked what had Obama had said and I started reading the transcript. When I got to ‘the United States can be a handy political football, or discussions with the United States [can be]’ my brother sighed and said thank God this guy gets it.”

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.