The troubles in Iran are due to the fact that the Iranian regime doesn’t know how to steal elections in a believable way.

If they had reported results that Ahmadinejad had won by 51% to 54%, there would have been some grumbling about a fixed election but it would have been plausible enough. It’s doubtful that thousands of demonstrators would have taken to the streets.

But the Supreme Leadership gave Ahmadinejad a decisive victory that was obviously fraudulent. They probably believed that a wide margin of victory would have conferred widespread legitimacy to Ahmadinejad’s election. The opposite was the case: the results were so obviously false that people right away were convinced that they wuz robbed. If the leaders who fixed the election had been smart they would at least have let Mousavi win his home province. Again, this was probably a clumsy attempt to show that Ahmadinejad’s support was widespread, even in his opponent’s constituency. It backfired on them big time.

They should have taken the American example. Dubya didn’t even win the popular vote in 2000, and he “won” Florida by the slimmest possible margin – less than one hundredth of a percentage point. The Republicans didn’t claim to have won a solidly blue state like California. (Though, to the eternal chagrin of those who needlessly died in unnecessary war of choice in Iraq, B*sh DID win Gore’s home state of Tennessee fair and square.)

The Republicans stole only exactly the number of votes they needed to steal. Neither more nor less.

The Iranian hardliners didn’t get any pointers from Karl Rove, however, and now they have a huge mess of anger on their hands. I don’t think the reformist opposition has the power to overthrow the clerics and accomplish a new Iranian Revolution, but they may be able to force a re-vote.