"Obama Deserves Credit for the Revolution."
Yes, but only a little bit.
It's true that in the early days of the revolution, the Obama team was slow to side fully with the protesters -- beginning with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's assessment that Egypt was "stable" and continuing through Vice President Joseph Biden's refusal to call Mubarak a "dictator" and the statements of Frank Wisner, the White House envoy -- later disavowed -- who said it was "critical" that the Egyptian leader stay in power.
When the Obama folks weren't garbling their talking points, they were offering bad advice, such as when the State Department undercut the protesters by urging them to engage in "dialogue" with Mubarak's newly installed vice president, Omar Suleiman. But Suleiman, a Mubarak hatchet man whom Clinton embraced as the improbable agent of democratic transformation, of course had no intention of carrying out genuine negotiations or dialogue. Instead, Suleiman hosted a one-way discussion with the loyal opposition -- a collection of hapless parties with little to no support on the street -- while refusing to deal with representatives of the youth movements in Tahrir Square. He then released a deeply disingenuous statement offering only token reforms and blaming "foreign elements" for the uprising; later, he said Egyptians lacked a "culture of democracy."
On the other hand, U.S. officials consistently, and with increasing impatience, condemned the use of force against protesters and urged the Egyptian military to do everything in its power to avoid bloodshed. At one point, the White House even intimated that the United States was reviewing its $1.3 billion military aid package. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, resisted heavy pressure from allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, which urged him to back Mubarak to the bitter end, while rejecting the advice of pundits who demanded that he call publicly and clearly for the dictator to step down -- a move that would have played into the regime's strategy of painting the protesters as foreign agents.
On the whole, the best we can say for the Obama team is that it didn't screw up too badly. Until it became obvious to all that Mubarak was going down, the United States looked as if it was still trying to thread the needle, balancing its strategic ties to the regime with its genuine desire to see the Egyptian people's aspirations fulfilled. In the end, those positions proved impossible to reconcile.