As Daniel Halper at The Weekly Standard just noted, the AP is describing Iran’s newly “elected” President Hasan Rowhani as a “moderate candidate.”
Well, the AP is far from alone in utilizing that description. The Washington Post describes Rowhani as a “moderate cleric”. Ditto for Reuters. Meanwhile, Time asked even before the ballots were counted, “Does the Sole Moderate Candidate Stand a Chance?”
Given that Rowhani was a confidante of the Ayatollah Khomeini and spoke on his behalf before the Iranian Revolution, was the National Security Adviser to both Presidents Rafsanjani and Khatami, later led Iran’s nuclear negotiation team and is currently a member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts which chooses Iran’s Supreme Leader, I would say he stands a pretty darn good chance. Rowhani is as much of an insider as you can possibly get.
As to moderation, that is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. Rowhani might very well be more moderate in his temperament than Ahmadinejad. But even though Rowhani might not say that Israel should be wiped off the map, chances are he probably thinks it is a bloody good idea.
I don’t doubt that the Iranian people are hungering for reform. The fact that more than 50% of Iranian voters picked Rowhani (thus avoiding a runoff election) tells me that they bought into Rowhani’s pledge of a civil rights charter.
It would come as no surprise if Rowhani were to implement a civil rights charter to give the appearance to the West that things are changing in Iran. Perhaps enough so for the Obama Administration to renew its efforts to engage Iran. But as long as the Mullahs are running the show, the people of Iran will be no more free in four years from now than they are today.