"What is Khatami doing?" is maybe one of the most frequent questions in recent Iranian political discourse. I'm not going to answer this question through defending his actions, but only suggesting an alternative idea about possible benefits of what it might seem as his inactions.
I do believe that cultural backgrounds of a group of people has a relatively important role in the ways they think and act, and thus in how they make changes in different aspects of their society. I also believe that this kind of changes might take a longer time comparing to economic changes.
Looking back to our history and cultural traditions, I cannot trace that much "acting-together" that are based upon thinking-together and deciding-together, although there exist many signs revealing our wonderful sense of feeling-together in critical situations. So, there has always been good initiations for processes of change in some periods of our history that were mostly wasted due to what we can call "lack of rationalistic mainstreams" in the following steps of those processes. But what causes this fact and lets it happen again and again? Among many other possible reasons, I would pick two cultural characteristics that seem to have had a considerable influence on many historic events in Iran.
First, talking and not listening. The truth is we usually look at each other and think about the words we should pour out next, while nodding every now and then and pretending to listen. Back to our social literature throughout history, it is full of monologues and not that much dialogues. And actually wherever dialogues are found, they are mostly non-equal-conversations between a Morad and his Morid (take it as the teacher and the pupil). [Morid means devotee and Morad is whom s/he is devoted to]
Second, walking and not looking. One thing I've learned in several mountain climbing programs is the vital rule of looking at your path and checking it with both past steps and the way ahead even if it has been the right way in the beginning. But instead, in our personal life and specifically in our social and popular movements, over-eagerness is the dominant sense of individuals. So, you either walk by or stand aside and watch others pass.
This time around, optimistically, the flow is a bit calmer (assuming there actually exists one!). So, there might be a chance for the time factor to play its role and let the people think their thoughts, train their ears, find their real place in the river-flow and at least try to see in which sea it pours.
And again I should say, this is neither offending nor defending the whole flow. I'm just saying that accidentally or deliberately, President Khatami's actions (considering inaction as a kind of action!) could happen to make (and maybe it has already made) some historical change in Iran's political literature and Iranian's socio-political culture.