I also find his choice of the word "moderate" rather odd; Obama officials didn't immediate call it a coup, they didn't let their rhetoric get ahead of the facts, they didn't respond in kind to the provocation of one of the coup leaders referring to Obama as a "negrito", and they have been squarely within the mainstream of world response. Via Boz, whose coverage of Honduras has been great, here's a recent comment from the president himself on Honduras:
America cannot and should not seek to impose any system of government on any other country, nor would we presume to choose which party or individual should run a country. And we haven't always done what we should have on that front. Even as we meet here today, America supports now the restoration of the democratically-elected President of Honduras, even though he has strongly opposed American policies. We do so not because we agree with him. We do so because we respect the universal principle that people should choose their own leaders, whether they are leaders we agree with or not.That all seems to be pretty moderate to me. Of course, Kirchick doesn't define what a moderate reaction would be. Indeed, he even says that the US shouldn't support the interim government, which has me scratching my head as to what he would actually want done differently. Perhaps he wants the media to recognize that Zelaya was a bad leader? I'd say they have done so from the very beginning, but that on balance, most analysts say that a coup is the worst of the two evils.
You get the feeling his complaint is motivated by a general desire to be more hawkish than the American left, as well as to oppose Chávez at every turn. But how would American interests be advanced by equivocating in our treatment of a government recognized as illegitimate by everyone on the planet? Clearly we would sacrifice our prestige with such a policy, a la Venezuela 2002, which in certain circumstances could perhaps be justified, but what would we get in exchange? And what would Kirchick say if a couple of weeks before the vote for a third Álvaro Uribe term, the Colombian leader was hustled off to Miami at gunpoint by military leaders protesting authoritarianism?