Broder eyes Tehran

BRODER EYES TEHRAN…. David Broder notes in his column today that President Obama’s political fortunes will largely depend on the state of the economy over the next two years. That seems like a more than reasonable assumption.

Broder adds in the same column that President Obama’s ability to shape the business cycle is severely limited, and that it “cannot be rushed and almost resists political command.” This is less persuasive — government stimulus can and does have a positive effect on demand — but the columnist’s point is not without some merit.

It’s Broder’s conclusion that left me amazed. He noted, for example, that the Great Depression was finally overcome in large part by the largest economic stimulus in history: World War II. And it’s “here,” Broder argues, “where Obama is likely to prevail.”

With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power, [the president] can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve.

I am not suggesting, of course, that the president incite a war to get reelected. But the nation will rally around Obama because Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century. If he can confront this threat and contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he will have made the world safer and may be regarded as one of the most successful presidents in history.

Just to clarify, this was published by David Broder, not Bill Kristol. This Halloween, Broder decided to dress up like a neocon, but neglected to mention the costume to his readers.

I’m not sure what’s more bizarre — the fact that Broder presents a war with Iran as some sort of inevitability, or the assertion, based on nothing, that “accelerating preparations for war” with Iran will necessarily “improve” the economy.

By that reasoning, shouldn’t the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have also boosted the economy? The evidence to bolster such a notion is scarce.

But if we take the reasoning a little further, Broder seems to be implicitly arguing that spending boosts the economy. It prompted Dean Baker to note this morning, “If spending on war can provide jobs and lift the economy then so can spending on roads, weatherizing homes, or educating our kids. Yes, that’s right, all the forms of stimulus spending that Broder derided so much because they add to the deficit will increase GDP and generate jobs just like the war that Broder is advocating (which will also add to the deficit). So, we have two routes to prosperity. We can either build up our physical infrastructure and improve the skills and education of our workers or we can go kill Iranians. Broder has made it clear where he stands.”

Here’s hoping the White House has the good sense not to stand with him.