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Obama 'Mideast surprises'? Unlikely.

There are plenty of reasons to question Niall Ferguson's musings about possible last-minute Obama 'surprises' aimed at winning the election. His most recent column in particular.

By Staff writer / November 2, 2012



Niall Ferguson is an academic, a financial historian of some repute. But he's also a political agitator prone to wildly inaccurate polemics that couple his own right-wing vision for America with a very poor understanding of the worlds of defense and diplomacy.

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His distant relationship with the facts when it comes to his political activism in print has been well covered elsewhere.

But if you weren't convinced yet, his latest piece for Tina Brown's "The Daily Beast" titled "On Obama's Possible Mideast Surprise" should suffice to make the case.

He starts out by saying that President Obama could really use some good news to sway undecided voters in his direction. Obama's once-commanding polling lead has indeed dwindled of late, and it seems clear that the race between Obama and Romney will be a tight one. So one point to Mr. Ferguson.

It all starts to come apart, though, when he suggests that "we might" just have one of two so-called "October surprises" from Obama in a cynical effort to win the election.

Invented Ferguson surprise no. 1: Obama will achieve a comprehensive nuclear settlement with Iran, solely to spite Mitt Romney.

Invented Ferguson surprise no. 2: Obama will tell Israel it's a good idea to start a war with Iran immediately and that the US will help.

Let me go on record as saying neither of these things that Mr. Ferguson says may happen will happen, between now and when the polls close on Nov. 6. Of course, Ferguson will later say that he couched his wild, and frankly silly, speculation in the language of "maybe."

But his closing two sentences make it clear where he's placing his bets, and his own loathing for Obama's character: "Never underestimate the ruthlessness of the Chicago machine that has been the key to Barack Obama’s rise," he writes. "With his fall suddenly a real possibility, the only thing that would really surprise me would be no October—or November—surprise."

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