Peaceniks! Don’t tell pollsters if you’re for Obama

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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Bad Bad Cop: I’ve never quite understood the rule against a challenger criticizing the President on foreign soil–foreign leaders can’t learn what a candidate says on U.S. soil? They have the telegraph, right? But if the rule still exists, Mitt Romney would seem to have violated it by 1) criticizing the “diplomatic distance” between the U.S. and Israel; and 2) letting an aide say that he would support an Israeli strike on Iran. David Frum argues that Romney helped Obama (and “American diplomacy”) nonetheless:

Romney served notice to the Iranians that a President Romney would follow a tougher line than a President Obama. He thus acted as “bad cop” to the administration’s “good cop,” intensifying pressure on the Iranian regime to do a deal now—before the next administration offers yet tougher terms.

Fair enough. But that happy dynamic only works if it looks like Romney might win. If it looks–in, say, October–like Obama will win, then by Frum’s logic a) Iran’s incentive to do a deal evaporates and b) Israel’s incentive to launch an attack quickly, before the election–when Obama will have difficulty opposing it–increases almost exponentially, no? …In effect, by taking a more hawkish stand Romney made himself the temporary (until Nov. 6) peace candidate. Even if you’re going to vote against him, you’d be well advised not to tell that to a pollster, lest leaders in the Middle East conclude Obama’s going to win and act accordingly. …

Mickey Kaus