The Big Inversion: White House Soft on Khamenei, Hard on Netanyahu

This week, the Obama administration had decidedly different attitudes about statements from leaders of the Jewish state of Israel and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

As the negotiations on a nuclear deal in Lausanne, Switzerland, between the P5+1 powers and Iran near their March 31 deadline, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded to a crowd in Tehran shouting “Death to America” that, “Of course yes, death to America, because America is the original source of this pressure.”

Khamenei was referencing the sanctions that have been levied on the Iranian economy and indicated an antagonistic view of the US that was clearly at odds with statements made by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who recently said that “achieving a deal is possible” by the deadline.

In response to this statement by Khamenei, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that his remarks simply “underscore why it is so critically important” that the US and other world powers “succeed in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

The White House clearly found it easy to downplay Khamenei’s threat. But the matter at hand is not whether this attitude was right or wrong, but instead, how Earnest’s response contrasts with the White House’s recent statements about re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu…