Comparative kitschology aside, let's return to the subject of Republicans more or less openly demanding
that the intelligence community start cooking the books on Iran intelligence. Laura Rozen, doing some guest-blogging for Kevin Drum, wonders
has "the marketing campaign against Iran begun?"
In various ways, I think it's been under way for a while, but clearly things are kicking into a new gear. As I was saying yesterday, this is part of the meaning of the President's embrace of the "Islamic fascism" locution. If the United States is at war with al-Qaeda, then a big confrontation with Iran is psychotic. But if the United States is at war with Islamic fascism, then the term fits the Iranian regime about as well (or as poorly) as it fits al-Qaeda, so we may as well start a war with Iran. Note that although the administration itself didn't play this particular card in selling the Iraq War the basic structure of how the sales pitch goes was previewed in Paul Berman's Terror and Liberalism
. He argued that al-Qaeda should be seen as a species of "Muslim totalitarianism" and that Baathist Iraq was also
a species of Muslim totalitarianism, and that, therefore since we were at war with the one we should also be at war with the other.
Bush and Cheney, of course, preferred the more straightforward gambit of simply implying that Saddam was behind 9/11 but the blueprint for the semantic switcheroo is already out there. And now we have the demands for the intelligence to be cooked up to order.
Democrats had better be prepared to confront this business aggressively. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that they won't be. Months and months ago when the groundwork for all this was being laid by conservative pundits and so forth I made it a habit to ask every Democratic politician I came across whether or not they were prepared for Iran to be an issue in the '06 midterms. Absolutely none of them seemed to be. People were either confident it wouldn't come to that, confident they could gin up a counter-pan if it did come to that, or else just expressed outrage at the idea that the GOP might politicize national security. But of course
the GOP will politicize national security. What's more, they should
politicize national security -- it's an important and legitimate issue in political debates. Democrats can't just plead for the refs to call a foul, they need to try to engage in this debate and win it.