By MAUREEN DOWD
Talk about a fearful symmetry.
Iran was whipping up real uranium while America was whipped up by fake uranium.
Obsessed with going to war against a Middle East country that had no nuclear weapon, the Bush administration lost focus on and leverage over a Middle East country hurtling toward a nuclear weapon.
That's after the Bush crew lost focus on and leverage over an Asian country that says it has now produced a whole bunch of nuclear weapons.
To paraphrase Raymond Chandler, if brains were elastic, these guys wouldn't have enough to make suspenders for a parakeet.
While Dick Cheney was getting booed as he threw out the first pitch for the Nationals — it bounced in the dirt and Scooter wasn't even there to catch it — Iran was jubilantly welcoming itself to the nuclear club and spitting in the eye of the U.S. and U.N.
Speaking before a mural of fluttering white doves, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad bragged that his scientists had concocted enriched uranium. They will now churn out nuclear fuel as fast as they can.
Are they making a bomb? Nah, said the Iranian president, furthest thing from their minds.
Are we going to bomb them before they can get a bomb? Nah, said the American president, furthest thing from our minds.
The nuclear doves announcement was embarrassing for Mr. Bush, who had said on Monday that he was determined to prevent Iran from getting the know-how to enrich uranium. But the Persian logic cannot be faulted. If you pretend to have W.M.D., the U.S. may come and get you. Ask Saddam. If you really have W.M.D., you're bulletproof. Ask Kim Jong Il.
I'm sure the mad-as-cheese Mr. Ahmadinejad cannot believe his luck. The down-the-rabbit-hole Bush administration is tied up in Iraq, helping to create a theocracy friendly to Iran while leaving Iran to do whatever it wants on W.M.D.
In this week's New Yorker, Seymour Hersh writes about the Pentagon planning for a possible strike against the nutty "apocalyptic Shiites," as the former C.I.A. agent Robert Baer calls the Holocaust-denying Ahmadinejad and his chorus line of clerics.
Mr. Hersh quotes a source close to the Pentagon saying that Mr. Bush believes "that saving Iran is going to be his legacy." Which makes sense, in a wag-the-camel way, since saving Iraq is not going to be his legacy.
The Bush hawks, who have already proven themselves cultural cretins in Iraq, seem to still be a long way from that humble foreign policy they promised. A former defense official told Mr. Hersh that the plan was based on an administration belief that "a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government." The official's reaction: "What are they smoking?"
Just as Rummy dismissed questions back in August 2002 about a possible invasion of Iraq as a media "frenzy" — even as plans were well under way — the defense chief shrugged off The New Yorker story as "Henny Penny, the sky is falling."
Noting that the president is "on a diplomatic track," He Who Should Be Fired said that while W. was obviously concerned about Iran as a country that supports terrorists and wants W.M.D., "it is just simply not useful to get into fantasy land."
Yes, the reality-based community of journalists should stay out of fantasy land, which is already overcrowded with hallucinatory Bushies.
W. defended his authorization of a leak to rebut Joseph Wilson's contention that the administration had hyped up a story about Niger selling Saddam uranium. "I wanted people to see the truth," the president said.
Of course, sometimes in order to help people see the truth, you've got to tell them a big fat lie.
As David Sanger and David Barstow wrote in The Times on Sunday, Scooter's leak about Saddam's efforts to obtain uranium had already been debunked by the time he leaked it. Colin Powell had told The Times that intelligence agencies were "no longer carrying it as a credible item" by early 2003, when the secretary of state was preparing to make the case against Iraq at the U.N. Only Scooter and Dick Cheney were willing to use a faulty bit of intelligence to defend their war scam.
With Watergate, reporters followed the money. With Monica, Ken Starr followed the stain. With W. and his bananas second banana, Patrick Fitzgerald is following the uranium. All he needs is a Geiger counter.