Rick Santorum was on Meet the Press this morning. Asked to cite specific disagreements with Obama’s Iran policy, this was the first thing Santorum had to say:

Number one, he didn’t support the pro-democracy movement in Iran in 2009 during the Green Revolution. Almost immediately after the election, I mean, excuse me, like with hours after the, the polls closed, Ahmadinejad announced that he won with 62 percent of the vote. Within a few days, President Obama basically said that that was–election was a legitimate one.

To put it bluntly, this last statement is a lie. David Gregory just let the remark slide and didn’t attempt to make Santorum back up this claim. There were many other governments around the world that accepted Ahmadinejad’s re-election as valid and sent their congratulations, but the United States was obviously not one of them. In the days immediately following the June 12 election, the most common criticism of the administration was that it wasn’t saying anything at all. Indeed, during the first week of protests the White House remained quiet, which I thought at the time to be the wiser course. Whether it was or not, it wasn’t the course that the administration followed as the protests continued. Later in June, Obama condemned the abuses committed against the protesters, but also made a point of saying that the U.S. was not interfering in Iranian affairs. Obama said on June 23:

I’ve made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is not interfering with Iran’s affairs. But we must also bear witness to the courage and the dignity of the Iranian people, and to a remarkable opening within Iranian society. And we deplore the violence against innocent civilians anywhere that it takes place.

The Iranian people are trying to have a debate about their future. Some in Iran – some in the Iranian government, in particular, are trying to avoid that debate by accusing the United States and others in the West of instigating protests over the election. These accusations are patently false. They’re an obvious attempt to distract people from what is truly taking place within Iran’s borders. This tired strategy of using old tensions to scapegoat other countries won’t work anymore in Iran. This is not about the United States or the West; this is about the people of Iran, and the future that they – and only they – will choose.

There was nothing constructive that the U.S. could have done in the weeks and months after June 12, but Washington could have done a lot more harm to the Iranian opposition by inserting itself actively into the controversy. Santorum’s false and misleading claims aren’t going to change that.