Republicans rebooting an old classic

It’s no “it’s been pretty well confirmed that [Mohamed Atta, the leader of the 19 9/11 hijackers] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack,” which was really a masterful display of lying in the service of warmongering.

"Hey, thanks"
“Hey, thanks”

However, the subtle but equally deceitful Republican attempts over the past couple of weeks to situate Iran and the nuclear deal into a 9/11 context haven’t gone unnoticed. Steve Benen highlights a couple of examples:

About a week ago, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), the #2 member of the Senate leadership, said it was “ironic that Congress may vote on Iran nuke deal on 9/11.” Political observers have heard a lot of nonsense in recent months about the international nuclear agreement, but this was just bizarre.

It’s possible, of course, that the Republican leader doesn’t know what “irony” means, but since none of the 9/11 terrorists were Iranian; 9/11 had nothing to do with nuclear weapons; and al Qaeda and Iran are bitter enemies, it was hard not to wonder what in the world John Cornyn was talking about.

A few days later – on the anniversary of 9/11 – the GOP-led House held a symbolic vote, intended to make Republicans feel better, on the diplomatic solution the party despises. Everyone involved recognized the fact that the vote was substantively meaningless, but GOP leaders proceeded anyway after they realized their own members were no longer on board with the original Republican plan, months in the making.

The debate on the symbolic resolution did, however, lead to some noteworthy rhetorical flourishes.

“Do not sacrifice the safety, the security and the stability of 300 million Americans for the legacy of one man,” implored Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) as he stood next to a poster of the Twin Towers burning on Sept. 11, 2001.

What does 9/11 have to do with a policy that blocks Iran’s access to nuclear weapons? In reality, nothing.

Cornyn and Kelly weren’t the only ones, though. Lindsey Graham, the keenest foreign policy mind in the Republican primary (just ask him), emerged from his panic room last week long enough to peddle the same nonsense:

Graham is a high-profile hawk and, along with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), one of the Republican party’s most outspoken and influential foreign policy voices. So what he said next is truly surprising: Graham appeared to blame the 9/11 attacks on Iran:

I have no idea why you believe the Ayatollah doesn’t mean what he says, given they way he’s behaved. If they will shoot their own children down in the streets to keep power, what do you think they’ll do to ours? And the only reason three thousand people died on 9/11 is they couldn’t get the weapons to kill three million of us and they’re on course to do it now.

"Would not vote" is a formidable candidate
“Who is ‘they,’ you ask? It’s ‘them,’ obviously. ‘Those,’ ah, ‘people.’ Look, ‘they’ know who ‘they’ are, OK?”

None of them are exactly accusing Iran of perpetrating the attacks, which would be a tough sell considering that nobody’s ever found any evidence to that effect, but they’re just sort of putting “Iran” and “9/11” next to each other and letting the audience do the rest. They’re relying on their audience’s inability to distinguish one Muslim from the next, and I’d say these guys know their party and its supporters pretty well.

Either that or they’re just bigots. Eh, it’s probably both.

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