Bloggers are skeptical of a report that Bush wants to attack Iran.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
May 20 2008 5:48 PM

Bomb Iran?

Bloggers are questioning claims that President Bush wants to attack Iran, and they are reacting to the news that Sen. Ted Kennedy has a brain tumor.

Bomb Iran? A report on Israel's Army Radio Tuesday quoted an unnamed "top official" in Israel who said that "Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were of the opinion that military action against Iran was called for" but that opposition from Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates has halted any action. The story was quickly picked up by the Jerusalem Post, which adds that the Bush administration denies the claim. Bloggers are skeptical, given the secondhand nature of an unsubstantiated observation from a mystery man.

Mother Jones' national-security correspondent Laura Rozen is skeptical at MoJo Blog: "This is the Jerusalem Post quoting Israel Radio, e.g. they didn't even report it themselves … citing an unnamed Israeli official quoting an again unnamed 'senior member of Bush's entourage' which includes a universe of people that could be say the spouse of a businessperson which was part of the delegation. … Something in the realm of idle gossip."

Righty Jules Crittenden parses the language: " 'Called for' and gonna do it are two very different things. It's entirely called for. Strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities and Quds Force training camps and headquarters. Any more crap out of Iran, and follow-on strikes on the oil and transportation infrastructure Iran uses to support and facilitate terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere. It's long overdue."

"Could it happen?" asks Jerusalem resident Carl at Israel Matzav. "Yes. Will it happen? Politics may play a role in answering that question. Stupid statements like the one Obama made about Iran on Sunday night make an attack while the Bush administration is still in office more likely." Libertarian Bruce McQuain at QandO Blog suspects that the political picture decreases the likelihood of an attack: "If true I can promise it won't be before November, because the administration couldn't do anything more that would guarantee a Democratic victory in November than attacking Iran. … So I continue to maintain, given the downside of such an attack, that it isn't imminent and most likely won't happen before Bush leaves office." Justin Gardner at Donklephant makes the same point: "Obviously we won't know until something really starts happening, but if Bush actually thinks he can start attacking another country seemingly unprovoked, even with surgical military strikes, he better get ready for a stateside backlash so intense it could nearly ensure the utter electoral devastation of the Republicans in the fall."

Abe Greenwald at Commentary's contentions compares Bush's Iran talk at the Knesset last week with his State of the Union address in 2002, in which the president said "the United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons": "Does the excerpt from last week's address signal a Bush's re-commitment to his 2002 pledge? Only time will tell. With continued military and political gains in Iraq, the U.S. is in a better position to weigh its options with regard to Iran."

Conservative John Little at Blogs of War says: "If Israeli officials were briefed or otherwise involved in discussions like this the last place you'd hear about it is Galatz. I'd bet that this was intended for Iranian consumption."

Kennedy's cancer: Sen. Ted Kennedy, who suffered a seizure over the weekend, has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. While most in cyberspace simply offer good wishes to Kennedy's family, others recall his historic tenure in the Senate, and a few are unnerved by the eulogies for a man still very much alive.

Newbie blogger Citizen Haines gets sentimental: "I have rarely agreed with the political positions of Senator Ted Kennedy but I have always admired his political tenacity and ability to communicate his message effectively … in fact he just may be one of the greatest politicians who ever lived in America." As Jim Geraghty points out at NRO's Campaign Spot: "You name a major political issue in the past four decades, and chances are Ted Kennedy had a central role in it." Liberal Digby at Hullabaloo mourns: "The man is a legend and has devoted his life to liberal causes, and there simply aren't that many of those people out there."

Blackliberal at ConversationsWith an Unapologetic Black Liberal is creeped out by the premature obit writing: "All the major anchors and networks are covering this as though he's dead. They've been asking his fellow senators for their thoughts about him, co workers who worked with him about what it was like working with him etc, etc and their tone has been so somber that if you weren't following closely you would really think he's past on." Kind of like this from Daily Kos diarist Johnny Venom: "No, indeed, here was a man who was a true statesman. Here was a man who, despite having an upper-class upbringing, felt himself as part of the working class; and his work in government proves that.  From civil rights to the poor to the environment, he was on the forefront."

Conservative Laura at Pursuing Holiness is on guard for hagiography: "The same impulse that forced much—certainly not all—of the media and the left to grit their teeth when Reagan died and not say what they really thought about him is now going to lead them to wear sackcloth and ashes and lionize their 'Lion of the Senate' beyond all recognition."

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.