The Iran debate has, for the most part, been characterised by shrill political voices pushing short-term political ideology.
But when a voice so mainstream as David Broder weighs in, you have to wonder whether the terms of the debate are changing.
Broder, of the Washington Post, is the eminence grise of American political commentary, a man so much a part of the fabric of the beltway that other analysts feel they must read him, whatever he says.
But is his reputation enough to outweigh the bizarre "analysis" in his latest column?
With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran's ambition to become a nuclear power, [Obama] 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.
Let's digest that for a moment: Broder is proposing aggressive war against a sovreign state as means of stimulating the US economy, and this just a week after the WikiLeaks revelation of how many innocents were killed during the Iraq adventure.
(His later claim that "I am not suggesting, of course, that the president incite a war to get reelected", rings decidedly hollow. He might not want Obama to get re-elected, but the push to initiate war with Iran sounds heartfelt enough.)
Stephen Walt of Foreign Policy roundly condemns the piece:
I haven't read such an ill informed and morally bankrupt piece of "analysis" in quite some time (which is saying something).
But the fact that it's Broder saying it is eye-opening indeed.