By Frank Moraes
I have long thought that Niall Ferguson was an idiot, but I think that may be the wrong way to think about him. Ferguson is just evil.
I understand being partisan. I certainly am. But to be only partisan is to be only interested in power. Yesterday, Ferguson has wrote an article over at The Daily Beast called “Niall Ferguson on Obama’s Possible Mideast Surprise.” His argument is that Obama is down in the polls and that he will try some kind of “October Surprise,” or a “Wag the Dog” move.
Let’s just step back from this for a moment. In what universe is Obama losing in the polls? In the conservative media bubble, of course! In the real world, the national polls show Romney very slightly ahead of Obama. But more important, the national polls mean absolutely, positively nothing. We elect presidents based upon the electoral college, and in that contest, President Obama is and has been the likely winner for months.
In an attempt to mollify conservatives, their own personal alternative media are providing lots of articles to sooth them so they won’t fall into a funk and end up missing the election. Typical of this is Jay Cost at The Weekly Standard who claims that Romney is doing really well with the “independent” voters and this will prove decisive. You know what I think of this kind of wishful thinking: it is more wishful than thinking. But this kind of thinking is all over. Brendan Nyhan at the Columbia Journalism Review writes about this in “The momentum behind a misleading narrative.” Basically, Romney gained in the week before and the week after the first debate. And that’s it. There is no miracle on the horizon.
But Niall Ferguson thinks there is and he thinks that the Obama campaign thinks the same thing. What will they do? Don’t worry: Ferguson has a thought. Obama will tell Israel to bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran. This makes sense from a Republican standpoint: it is just the way they roll; since they will do anything for power, everyone else must act the same way. But with a clear-eyed view of the real world this is nonsense. Would the president really start a war just to win re-election? A democratic president, that is? And if he did, would the people really believe that it wasn’t an act of political desperation? After all, why not wait another week and do it after the election? And who, other than wackjob conservatives like Ferguson, wants a war with Iran? It is a ridiculous idea: Obama weighing his choices, “Should I work on getting out the vote or just start a war with Iran? It’s such a tough choice!”
Ferguson isn’t calling for war explicitly, of course. He is calling for Israeli strikes on Iran’s alleged nuclear laboratories. But this is the same as calling for war. This is, in fact, an act of war. And having Israel start it would not make it any less our war.
Hopefully with Newsweek breaking away from The Daily Beast I won’t have to read Ferguson again. But I fear I am being far more wishful than even the conservative poll watchers.
(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)