The Obama administration seems at last to be waking up to the reality that its policy of engagement with the rulers of Iran has gone up in the smoke rising from the streets of Tehran. It took a while.

At the first sign of post-election trouble the administration was quick to emphasize that the engagement policy was still on.

Then the president spoke oh so respectfully of the supreme leader of the country, the unelected and autocratic Ayatollah Khamenei. He said Khamenei recognized the concerns the people had about the election. Never mind that the response to those concerns was to order a ruthless and now violent crackdown on their expression.

Then came President Obama's assertion that there was little difference between the thuggish Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi. Well, the people in the streets certainly think there's a difference.

The president has insisted he doesn't want to make matters worse by giving the rulers ammunition to blame the upheaval on the U.S. As if the protesters would react to such a preposterous claim by collectively slapping their foreheads and saying, "Oh my God. Uncle Sam made me do it. Death to America. Up with Ahmadinejad."

In fact, this regime will never be the same. Its thin veil of legitimacy has been stripped and even the White House now seems to know it.

Brit Hume is the senior political analyst for FOX News Channel.