Denouncing Republican "bluster" about war with Iran, President Obama went on the offensive Tuesday:
"Those who are ... beating the drums of war should explain clearly to the American people what they think the costs and benefits would be."
The president had in mind such remarks as those Newt Gingrich delivered to the Israeli lobby AIPAC that same day: "The red line is now ... because the Iranians are deepening their commitment to nuclear weapons" -- an assertion the Joint Chiefs and U.S. intelligence agencies say is blatantly false.
They insist: Iran has not made the decision to build a bomb.
Perhaps the president was referring to Mitt Romney's pledge to that same cheering throng to "station multiple carriers and warships at Iran's door" and deny Tehran even "the capacity to make a bomb."
But if "the capacity to make a bomb" means knowledge of how to build one and an ability to enrich uranium to bomb-grade, should they decide to do so, Iran already has that.
Does Mitt want war now?
Perhaps the president had in mind John McCain's call for U.S. air strikes on Syria, an act of war rejected even by GOP Speaker John Boehner as "premature," since the "situation in Syria is pretty complicated."
Have the Republican uber-hawks learned nothing from the war for which they beat the drums 10 years ago?
Then they told us Saddam Hussein was implicated in 9/11, that he had chemical weapons, that if we didn't invade his country we could expect anthrax attacks by Iraqi crop-dusters up and down our East Coast.
Those who asked for proof Saddam was a mortal threat were dismissed by Condi Rice: "There will always be some uncertainty about how quickly Saddam can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
The price of our heeding that bluster? Some 4,500 American dead, 35,000 wounded, $1 trillion sunk, 100,000 Iraqi dead, half a million widows and orphans.
The fruits of our victory? A Shia-dominated Iraq descending into sectarian and civil war.
The GOP's political reward for marching us up to Baghdad?
Loss of both houses of Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008, when the antiwar Obama crushed the war hawk McCain.
Today's GOP front-runners -- Newt, Mitt and Rick Santorum -- all clearly believe that a warlike stance toward Iran will appeal to the evangelical base and to Jewish voters who went for Obama by 57 points in 2008.
But they are rolling the dice with a war-weary America.
Ron Paul, whose youth vote the party needs and who receives the largest number of contributions from the military, has split with them on Iran.