I like the concept of the second channel, which Richard Fernandez describes with his usual insight here [emphasis mine]:
And in the particular case of Iran, my own emotional curiosity is drawn toward one question alone. Does the current President in his most private moments truly and sincerely wish for the downfall of the regime in Teheran? Because even if he were only to wish it, without acting on it; without initiating a single program to overthrow the Ayatollahs, I believe the message would shine through.
Over at Ann Althouse’s there’s a poll on who is the bigger partisan hack: Glenn Reynolds or Andrew Sullivan. Last I looked Sullivan was winning the hack race by 94 % to 6%. And the reason apparently, is largely Sullivan’s credulity of Obama’s position on gay marriage and his contorted attempts to reconcile his belief in President Obama in despite of the plain facts. Sullivan’s problem was that he was listening to Obama’s words. Other people were clever enough to listen in on the second channel — the one that sends signals about who [Obama] is. Clever enough to deduce the truth from coded signals because in certain circles, engagement always means being able to say all things to all men. People learn to read the tea leaves eventually. I think that some Iranians actually know how to listen in on the second channel and they are. They want to know if the current administration is “on their side”. Maybe that’s all the help they want; all the help they need. But are they going to get it?
And it’s one of the reasons that Obama’s tepid words on Iran fall so flat. Listening in on the second channel, we sense absolutely no conviction behind them and no commitment to anything other than keeping the options open for negotiating with Ahmadinejad.
And, looking at the domestic picture, it is at least part of the explanation of why some of us have distrusted Obama from the start, while others are (and remain) starry-eyed.