Bill Kristol offers some of his typical insights:

And who scares the left? Judging from the vitriol, it’s Gowdy, Netanyahu, and Cotton. Why? Because they’re tough. And because they fight on important issues rather than trivial ones. And because they fight intelligently and strategically. And because they fight to win.

This is a common mistake that partisans and ideologues often make. They assume that a figure is criticized and/or mocked in direct proportion to how threatening that person supposedly is to the other side of the debate. According to this sort of thinking, Sarah Palin must leave people quaking with fear rather than laughter. It has escaped Kristol, but it is frequently the case that a politician becomes the focus of anger because he is fighting for a bad cause and he becomes the focus of mockery because he keeps screwing up at every turn.

It’s fair to say that there are many Americans across the spectrum that don’t like Netanyahu and Cotton’s stunts, but it would be wrong to believe that anyone is especially afraid of such blundering incompetents. They are undoubtedly dangerous and baleful influences on the Iran policy debate (and others besides that one), but it is also somewhat reassuring to see that their stunts keep backfiring on them. There was some reason to worry that these stunts could damage the negotiations, but overall the effect appears to have been the opposite of the one that the saboteurs intended. The good news is that these hard-liners don’t fight intelligently or strategically, and in their desperation to win they do more harm to their own cause than their opponents could have done on their own. The reality is that they aren’t tough, unless one defines “tough” as being impervious to inconvenient evidence. The last two weeks have shown them to be clueless in what can be achieved and how to go about achieving it, and the fact that Kristol thinks they have been doing very well tells the rest of us how badly they have failed.