Matthews: Why Iran war talk isn’t presidential


Let me finish tonight with this: I think President Obama is handling this Iranian situation as well as any president can while his rivals are behaving without honor.

Let’s keep in mind - even in an heated election year - that an American president has to wear three hats in the Middle East.

One, and always number one, he must attend to America’s interests.  Two, look out for our allies, including Israel. Three, perform the role we have played since the modern state of Israel was declared: that of Middle East peace maker.

Without the U.S. pushing for peace, it is hard to see it ever having had much chance. There have been breakthroughs - Camp David in 1978 which brought a peace between Israel and Egypt, and, more recently, peace between Israel and Jordan. And, of course, the difficult but essential push for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

You would think, listening to the Republican candidates for president, that the only policy that matters is the bombing of Iran and how fast to do it.

You hear nothing from them about protecting America’s interests, nothing of our role as peace-maker. Nothing.

In fact, Romney now speaks of the Palestinians as if they, themselves, are our enemy, America’s enemy. When did that become U.S. policy? I thought both parties believed in the right of the two peoples - Jewish and Palestinian - to their own countries.  It was President George W. Bush who enunciated that policy.

The current crop of candidates makes Bush seem like Woodrow Wilson.

President Obama said today in his press conference that he has to worry about the consequences of what he says and does. His potential rivals seem to think they can say anything. And now Mitch McConnell, who swore to destroy the Obama presidency from Inauguration Day now talks of having the Senate pass a “declaration of war” on Iran.

That’d be helpful, wouldn’t it? The more “war” talk there is, the more the Iranians circle the wagons around their leaders, the more nationalistic sentiments are ginned up over there.

The more “war” talk, the more the price of oil spikes as people hoard in anticipation of a cut-off of traffic in the Strait of Hormuz.

So the President acts as President. Romney, whose family’s military experience is a giant goose-egg - a big fat zero - talks like “Bombs Away” Curtis LeMay.

Fact check: If you accept Donald Trump as your political king-maker, genuflecting before him in Las Vegas, and you fear the wrath of Rush Limbaugh, where do you get all this bluster? Or do you save it for special occasions - when “you” can’t get hurt, only the country can?


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