AUSTIN, Texas -- It occasionally occurs to me that if I could understand the Bush administration's foreign policy, I might like it. After months of threatening Iran with everything up to and including nuclear war, we are now full of Sweet Reason and offering to have diplomatic talks with the very people we have been denouncing as Beyond Vile.

I never mind a good about-face in foreign policy myself. Always reminds me of the times when that great duo Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger decided it would be a good thing to convince the world they were both quite perfectly mad. They succeeded. (Bonus point: What did Richard Nixon say upon first seeing the Great Wall of China? He said, "This is, indeed, a great wall." Almost as good as the time George H.W. Bush barfed on the prime minister of Japan.)

John Bolton is my favorite Bush administration diplomat. He's the one they sent to the United Nations, since he has all the characteristics of a really clumsy bull in a China shop. Ambassador Bolton, his white mustache positively bristling in horror, has assured us over and over that we cannot consent to have diplomatic talks with Iran No Matter What.

Iran's highly unpleasant President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad started uttering anti-Semitic screeds. Condoleezza Rice has been wandering around saying the same thing as Bolton to the European allies, who kept tugging her sleeve and whispering, "Have talks, good plan, we'll do the hard part."

At least Rice realized threatening Iran was getting us nowhere -- particularly since we had already violated the nuclear weapons ban by making a deal with India. The great diplomatic lesson of the Cuban Missile Crisis during JFK's presidency is that one can always choose to hear the less hostile response. Likewise, we can give a two-toned response -- both "no enrichment" and "some enrichment. "

It's so entirely pleasant to see the Bushies actually using diplomacy, one veritably vaults toward other cases where it might be helpful. All of Latin America? China? Denny Hastert? Who knows where this might take us.

And all with John Bolton in the lead, his moustache at full bristle, dropping imprecations upon one and all. I'm telling you, there's a great sit-com in this.

Meanwhile, there is nothing funny about Iraq, as we slide toward being just one more militia in the chaos. I had a slightly insane discussion the other day with a winger who wanted urgently for me to understand that the Haditha massacre is the kind of thing that happens in war. Whereas I was trying to point out to him that the Haditha massacre is the kind of thing that happens in war.

I think we both got that massacres occur in war -- but for me, it felt like a "don't teach your grandma to suck eggs" moment. Why would anyone who hadn't lived through My Lai try to explain Haditha?

I realize it's silly to let really stupid people upset you, but I have had it with the wingnuts who go about claiming that liberals are delighted about Haditha or want to use it for nefarious public relations purposes. Listen, twits, if you can't stop your petty little partisan political games long to enough to recognize Sad when you see it, then shut up.

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