Most media coverage concerning Iran has focused on the swing towards the "moderate" and the clamor for change coming from young, educated Iranians. Polls leading up to the election suggested an upset with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad losing in a close election. Then, when his margin of victory was announced, his opponents took to the streets, claiming fraud. Most observers (by that I mean the reporters) believe them, particularly since the results were announced 2 hours after the polls closed and because he won in his opponents' back yard.
They may be right. I think they are right. No one can ignore the massive protests in Tehran. Iran's president does have the weight of the government bureaucracy behind him. But they may, I'm afraid to say, be wrong. Kudos then go to The Washington Post, which though it is no friend of the current president, published this op-ed suggesting that vote margin properly and frighteningly I might add, match the will of the people, as measured by their poll.
This poll obviously may not reflect the attitudes of the Iranian people. People on the streets, fearing for their own safety, might lie to the pollsters and even if it is accurate it merely reflected the attitude the polled Iranians had at the time, and not how they felt when they showed up at the polls.
Their poll's disputed accuracy, however, should have no bearing on how the Iranian government treats its dissenters.
As to what our president should do?
Virtually nothing in public. There might be a backlash. We don't want to give Ahmadinejad a rallying point. If we sit this one out the Iranians in Tehran might carry this through to its logical conclusion and overthrow the Mullahs. If they fail or if they don't go that far, and we supported them, we look bad and the Mullahs can always rely on nationalist-driven anti-American imperialism to sustain their hold on power.