Laughing at him, not with him

LAUGHING AT HIM, NOT WITH HIM…. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei probably wasn’t trying to be funny, but he drew some laughs yesterday anyway.

[T]he ayatollah said Friday that there was nothing to discuss, as he again endorsed the victory of Mr. Ahmadinejad, seated in the audience, and called the elections “an epic moment that has become a historic moment.” He dismissed allegations of fraud.

“Perhaps 100,000 votes, or 500,000, but how can anyone tamper with 11 million votes?” he asked as the crowd burst into laughter. “If the political elite ignore the law — whether they want it or not — they would be responsible for the bloodshed and chaos,” he said.

On the first point, tampering with 11 million votes, I can’t speak to the audience’s laughter, but it seems funny to me since the Iranian regime wouldn’t necessarily have any trouble assigning vote totals as it saw fit.

On the latter point, blaming protestors for violence, this was an argument President Obama sought to reverse yesterday, when he told CBS, “[H]ow [Iranian officials] approach and deal with people who are, through peaceful means, trying to be heard will, I think, send a pretty clear signal to the international community about what Iran is and — and is not.”

Reports this morning indicate that plans for today’s protest are still on track, despite Khamenei’s demands, and despite the risks.

The LA Times ran a quote from a young woman who vowed to attend today’s protest. “This is how countries that have freedom and democracy get it,” said the woman, who asked that her name not be published. “They have to fight and die for it.”