My National Review Online column last week carried the provocative title, "How to Save the Obama Presidency: Bomb Iran," and provoke it surely did.
Leftists on websites like ThinkProgress and DailyKos reacted voluminously and in slightly crazed ways, misrepresenting my argument even as they called me unrepeatable names. Die Welt, a German newspaper, published the article in translation but came under such vehement criticism that the editors pulled my analysis.
The Right responded circumspectly. The criticism I had braced for ("Why are you helping Obama?") never came. If Arnaud de Borchgrave more-or-less agreed, Patrick Buchanan devoted a column, "Will Obama Play the War Card?" to both agreeing and disagreeing.
Yes, Buchanan wrote, bombing Iran would indeed save the president's political skin: "Obama has a big card yet to play" before the U.S. congressional elections in November. Making war on Iran "would be the end of GOP dreams of adding three dozen seats in the House and half a dozen in the Senate." But Buchanan opposes Obama taking this step:
Daniel Pipes in a National Review Online piece featured by the Jerusalem Post — "How to Save the Obama Presidency: Bomb Iran" — urges Obama to make a "dramatic gesture to change the public perception of him as a lightweight, bumbling ideologue" by ordering the U.S. military to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.
Citing six polls, Pipes says Americans support an attack today and will "presumably rally around the flag" when the bombs fall.
Will Obama cynically yield to temptation, play the war card and make "conservatives swoon," in Pipes' phrase, to save himself and his party? We shall see.
Sarah Palin entered the fray yesterday. In a high-profile interview yesterday with Chris Wallace, she spontaneously brought up the topic of Obama's winning a second term by bombing Iran:
WALLACE: How hard do you think President Obama will be to defeat in 2012?
PALIN: It depends on a few things. Say he played—and I got this from Buchanan, reading one of his columns the other day - say he played the war card. Say he decided to declare war on Iran or decided really [to] come out and do whatever he could to support Israel, which I would like him to do, but - that changes the dynamics in what we can assume is going to happen between now and three years. Because I think if the election were today I do not think Obama would be re-elected. But three years from now, things could change if—on the national security front …
WALLACE: But you're not suggesting that he would cynically play the war card?
PALIN: I'm not suggesting that. I'm saying if he did, things would dramatically change. If he decided to toughen up and do all that he can to secure our nation and our allies, I think people would, perhaps, shift their thinking a little bit and decide, "Well, maybe he's tougher than we think he's—than he is today," and there wouldn't be as much passion to make sure that he doesn't serve another four years.
(1) Buchanan disapproves of Obama taking out the Iranian nuclear infrastructure, but Palin and I "would like him to do" that, thereby removing the world's No. 1 security threat.
(2) After vilification from the Left and tepid reactions on the Right, it's nice to have a major political figure endorse my idea.
(3) I've always liked Palin and been mystified by the fervid hostility she engenders. Perhaps that results from her readiness, as Jeff Bergner puts it, to challenge "The Narrative" formulated by the Democratic Party. True to form, she is, so far, the only politician willing to touch the hot potato of the political implications of bombing Iran.
Feb. 15, 2010 update: As other political figures weigh in, starting with Dick Cheney, I will record their views at "Further Reactions to My 'Bomb Iran' Argument."