For the Republicans to have any shot at the Presidential election, they need a boogeyman with a big bomb - someone who can scare the bejesus out of the electorate with the threat of nuclear armageddon.
Hooray for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Iraq is a dead issue in the media. Bush has screwed that up and can't put it together again. Astonishingly, only 11 percent of Americans think we should finish our mission over there.
Best not to talk about Afghanistan or Al Qaeda too much. We haven't really gotten those tinderboxes under control either. If the Republicans dare to bring them up, the Dems will turn it around and counter with the resurgent Taliban, the escape from Tora Bora, and the ever-elusive Osama.
National Security is still the Republicans' strongest issue. But how do you fear monger without getting wrapped up by the sticky web of Iraq and Al Qaeda?
You can try, as Captain Renault said, to round up the usual suspects - homegrown plots of wannabes and conspirators. Most of these nutcases are the kind of people who threaten to kill the President and blow things up, but have little ability or means to carry out their delusions.
But they are not nearly scary enough - politically, nothing will ever take the place of Saddam Hussein. The guy was out of central casting. He looked evil and did some genuinely nasty things.
Strategically Bush should have kept Hussein around on a string to play with, like a cat with a live mouse dangling from his jaws. All the other bad guys just don't cut it. Gadhafi has turned into a nice guy. Hugo Chavez had possibilities, but he looks and acts like a clown. Castro is too sick to pick on, and nobody believes he threatens us anyway, except for Vegas casino owners who fear Cuba opening up as a gaming mecca.
Kim Jung Il is too weird and dangerous, and anyway, he really does have a bomb!
The only guy left is Ahmadinejad. And he seems more than willing to oblige. He is clearly trying to build a bomb, he funds Hezbollah activities, he wants to wipe out Israel, and he threatens the world's oil supplies and global economy.
So what's not to like about the guy? Republicans should invite him to speak every month at a different Ivy League college to stir things up and fire up the troops.
Conversely, Ahmadinejad should be very grateful to George W. Bush.
He took out Iran's bitterest enemy Saddam Hussein and the Sunni claque in Iraq and opened the way for an eventual Shiite domination of the country and the region. Bush elevated Ahmadinejad from a minor league, two-bit player on the world stage into the dominant force among non-aligned counties in politics and economics. Moreover, a greater international prestige gives him domestic political leverage over the Ayatollahs who wield ultimate power in Iran.
Bush's geopolitical adventures and invasion allowed Iran to triple its oil prices and fatten its coffers.
And Bush's blunders opened the door to the dream of an Iran-Iraq Shiite Crescent - the eventual domination of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the Hormuz Strait.
It's a symbiotic relationship. Ahmadinejad and Bush need each other.