You can pretty much count on our two main political parties to go overboard when they retake Congress or the White House. Remember 2009? The Democrats supposedly had a permanent new majority. A new wave of liberalism would sweep all before it. The Republicans? Old and out of it, their hidebound conservatism locking them permanently in the past.
Well, the Republicans are, if anything, even more conservative now. They've also won back both the House and the Senate. After six years of the "game-changing" Barack Obama presidency, the game has changed, all right. Democratic strength in Congress is at a more than eight decade-low, back below what it was before Franklin D. Roosevelt became president.
But now that the Republicans are back in the ascendancy it's their turn for goofy hubris.
First, Republican congressional leaders violated the norms of international protocol, bypassing the White House to invite Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to Washington to address a Tuesday joint session of Congress on Iran. The goal? To derail Obama's peace efforts.
Then former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said that Obama "doesn't love America." Why not? Because he was supposedly heavily influenced by "communists" while growing up. This piece of egregious character assassination, redolent of the old red-baiting, was not denounced by Republican leaders.
Then there is John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee newly returned to the chairmanship of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He attacked Obama's proposed global blank check to take on ISIS. Why? Because it doesn't include authorization to send large numbers of American ground troops back to Iraq.
None of this is smart. Let's work backwards, figuratively fittingly enough, starting with McCain.
I like John McCain. I supported him for president in 2000. Now it seems there is hardly a conflict on the planet he doesn't want us to jump in the middle of. Maybe there's a rock-throwing fight in Antarctica he's not into.
Did Obama mishandle ISIS? Sure. I've criticized his dilatory approach from the beginning.
But ISIS only exists because of the idiotic invasion of Iraq that McCain championed.
Send large numbers of American ground troops back to Iraq? Uh-uh. That ship has sailed. There's very little popular support for that after years of largely fruitless fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Even if it did make strategic sense. Which it does not, as it would only further inflame a generation of potential jihadists against us.
Giuliani's doubled-down comments about Obama's supposed communist indoctrination preventing him from loving America? What year is this, anyway?
Joe McCarthy died in 1957.
The Netanyahu business is quite fascinating and complex, easily deserving of its own piece as a prime example of the Israeli paradox. (So it will get it.) Does Iran want its own nuclear weapons, which it says it does not? It certainly looks that way to me. If Iran does not, it's sure going to an awful lot lot trouble pursuing a nuclear energy program it does not need.
The very immediate problem for the Republicans is Netanyahu himself. He's the boy who cried wolf.
Netanyahu has been saying that Iran is just about to get nuclear weapons, and that such would be an "existential threat" to Israel, for more than 20 years now. Needless to say, it hasn't happened.
That's an awfully long time to be repeatedly wrong about something this important, isn't it?
Now Netanyahu, who is trying to get re-elected as we speak over in Israel, with elections on March 17th, is here at Republican invitation to lobby America to pursue a course of conflict with Iran.
By an odd coincidence, he also came over here to lobby Congress to authorize the invasion of Iraq.
He was certainly wrong about that, since the course he advocated actually empowered Iran in the region. Including Baghdad itself, where the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, who was in and out of Iraq, working with its increasingly pro-Iranian government for years while we were still there in force, is playing a critical role in directing the Iraqi regime's defense against Isis.
Having been wrong about Iran's nuclear program for the past two decades and having been wrong about the U.S. invasion of Iraq, is Netanyahu suddenly right about a nuclear Iran threatening the very existence of Israel? If he is, why doesn't Israel send a more credible messenger?
So here we have the Republicans, going along with the risible notion that Obama is really a communist-indoctrinated guy who doesn't care about the country he's the president of, pushing to send large numbers of American ground troops back into Iraq, and promoting a political figure from another country who would like us to attack Iran for him.
This could be good for Democrats. It's not good for America.
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