Will Obama Wag the Dog in Tehran?
Everyone knows there could be a surprise before Nov. 6—a news story that finally makes up the minds of those undecided voters in the swing states and settles the presidential election.
Will Iran be the President’s October surprise? (Mehdi Ghasemi / Iranian Students News Agency-AP)
Right now, Barack Obama certainly needs one.
Well, it is not going to come from the economy (unless you want to factor in the risk of a 1987-style stock-market plunge, which would hardly help the president). And it is not going to come from Donald Trump. And even if the Democrats dig up two more barking-mad Republican candidates for the Senate, both of whom believe that rapes are part of God’s plan to make babies, no one is going to be very surprised.
No, the only kind of surprise I can envisage is a foreign-policy surprise. And if the polls get any scarier for the incumbent, we might just have one.
Recently The New York Times—increasingly the official organ of the Obama administration—offered a tease. “U.S. Officials Say Iran Has Agreed to Nuclear Talks” ran the headline. In the story, the Times quoted unnamed officials as saying that one-on-one talks with Iran had been agreed to in “a last-ditch diplomatic effort to avert a military strike on Iran.”
For slower readers, the paper spelled out how an announcement would affect the race for the White House: “The prospect of one-on-one negotiations could put Mr. Romney in an awkward spot … The danger of opposing such a diplomatic initiative is that it could make him look as if he is willing to risk another American war in the Middle East without exhausting alternatives.”