Having just read Michael Crowley's New Republic piece on the Leveretts - let me offer a slightly different take from the views expressed by Kevin and Larison.
What Crowley is clearly fishing for throughout the piece is an indication that the Leveretts are disgusted with the Iranian regime - and they wouldn't give it to him.
Larison says they were right not to:
What is the point of Crowleyâ??s question? To establish that we are all capable of meaningless moralizing about a foreign leader? If the Leveretts refused to be pulled in by this, so much the better for them. This is more of the same tired personalization of foreign policy. If we obsess over a foreign leader as an embodiment of villainy, it will keep us from having to think rationally about real policy options, and it will absolutely prevent the consideration of any sort of sustained diplomatic engagement. The only purpose for this obsession with Ahmadinejad that I can see is to make it easier to advocate confrontational and aggressive policies against Iran. It is a way of substituting emotion and passion for critical thinking about the potential for improved U.S.-Iranian relations. It is mostly a way of striking the right pose for lack of anything else to contribute to the debate. Iran hawks may have nothing but terrible ideas, but at least they have sufficient hate for Ahmadinejad!
And in a perfect world (or the blogosphere!), we can have a rational discussion about all these issues. But that is, alas, not the world we are operating in and what's more, the Leveretts must certainly know that.
So let's pretend you're the Leveretts and here is Crowley angling for some expression of disgust with the Iranian regime. Yes, it's childish, but being veterans of Washington, you understand that the fastest way your (already unpopular) line of analysis can be discredited is if it is shown that you harbor real sympathies for the current crop of Iranian rulers, and not just an unsentimental view of engagement or a hyper-skeptical view of the Green Movement.
Do you play the game or not? Does it really cost you or your views of engagement anything to say you find the regime's anti-Semitic rhetoric vile and insulting?