Let?s see...Hillary cried, John E. talked tough, John M. talked straight, Dewey C. walked hard, and the nation, like a baby?s dirty diaper, needs a


From New Hampshire to Iran, with Love

Let?s see...Hillary cried, John E. talked tough, John M. talked straight, Dewey C. walked hard, and the nation, like a baby?s dirty diaper, needs a change. Mike?s got Chuck and Hill?s got Bill and sudden Mo, and Barack?s got game but less bounce than we thought (is he black enough?) and the wheel of electalikability still spins outside the punditry shop like a barber pole, the swirls of red, white, and blue dazzling the eye and alerting all comers to the professional hacking within.


The word of the day is...change!

It?s hard to swim through all the wisdom of the primary season, and drawing conclusions from the votes of a few thousand is silly. But let?s do it anyway. The New Hampshire primary was a victory for...knockin? heads in Iran! That?s right: kickin? ass and takin? names in the Islamic Republic. How so?

Well, we?ll start with the Democrats, where policy differences between the contenders are like a cheap balloon: thin and easily overinflated. Despite their clashing rhetoric, Obama, Clinton, and Edwards have very similar domestic proposals (the small variations between their certain-to-be legislatively mangled health care proposals notwithstanding). The biggest beef between them is not this drivel about experience and change (it?s worth noting, as Seely did below, that all three have had short careers as legislators that were preceded or followed by work that would seem to be good training for political office), but in foreign policy.

Clinton and Edwards voted for the Iraq War authorization, something Obama, who publicly opposed it in 2002, likes to remind us of frequently. (Edwards has apologized for this vote far more often than he has for his vote for the bankruptcy bill, a more curious one for the poverty candidate and populist champion.) And while all three take great care to register their opposition to the current administration?s handling of the war, their approaches to Iran clearly diverge.

In a July debate, Clinton criticized as naive Obama?s stated intention of holding face-to-face meetings with Iranian leadership, and two months later, she voted for the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, designating Iran?s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. (If you follow the link, note that paragraphs b3 and b4 were cut from the final version.) Referring to Dick Cheney?s increasingly bellicose talk on Iran, Virginia Democratic Senator Jim Webb derided the Amendment as ?Cheney?s fondest pipe dream,? and Obama and Edwards opposed it. After receiving heavy backlash for her vote, Clinton co-sponsored Webb?s bill to prevent Bush from using force in Iran without Congressional authorization. (Funny that such a bill is needed.)

Nevertheless, if you?re a Democrat who feels Iran is a threat and supports a more aggressive policy towards it, then Hillary Clinton is your woman. While the most recent National Intelligence Estimate will certainly be an obstacle, the drumbeat hasn?t fully flatlined, and now that Lieberman has left the party, she?s your best shot.

On the right side of the aisle, domestic platforms vary more widely, with, for example, Mike Huckabee?s flat tax being unlike anything his opponents propose. But if you support an aggressive policy toward Iran, who?s your best candidate?

It?s probably not Mike Huckabee, who seems entirely focused on domestic issues, even going so far as to argue that the assassination of Benazir Bhutto highlights the need for a border fence with Mexico. (He also didn?t know about the release of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran after it had dominated the news for a full 24 hours.) You could vote for Mitt Romney, but he?s taken a sharp right turn in the last year or two, leading some to wonder as to the sincerity of his new positions.

No, If you?re set on clashing with Iran--getting them before they get us or Israel, or something like that--you?ll want someone who?s a true believer. Rudy Giuliani?s senior foreign policy adviser is Norman Podhoretz, the man who wrote ?I hope and pray? we bomb Iran. I, for one, don?t so hope and pray, but nor do I doubt his sincerity, as he?s advocated such positions for his whole career. Further, anyone who followed Giuliani?s criminal justice policies as New York Mayor knows that he had a knock heads first, ask questions second approach. While I?m not a fan, it certainly won him voters, who felt the benefits were worth the costs. Still, few voters seem to like Giuliani these days, and anyway, he hasn?t been the most consistently neocon/interventionist of the candidates. That award goes to John McCain.

McCain was a co-sponsor of the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, has been one of the Iraq War?s most prominent and respected supporters, and has advocated aggressive foreign policy, military intervention, and regime change throughout his career. Moreover, he?s the only one who?s lent his voice to a jingle:

Regardless of how few they are or whether they knew they did it, yesterday the voters of New Hampshire took a hard line on Iran.

Michigan, you?re up!

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