I want to know. Who's Frodo in Rick Santorum's misreading of The Lord of the Rings?
While the eye of Sauron is focused on Iraq, who's carrying the Ring up Mount Doom to throw it into the pit and destroy it and end the war?
And is Santorum aware that Frodo fails?
Then Frodo stirred and spoke with a clear voice, indeed with a voice clearer and more powerful than Sam had ever heard him use, and it rose now above the throb and turmoil of Mount Doom, ringing in the roof and the walls.
"I have come," he said, "But I do not choose now to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!" And, suddenly, as he set it on his finger, he vanished from Sam's sight.
The Ring gets to him in the end. It's an accident that it's destroyed. Does Santorum expect that Gollum's going to come along at the last minute?
And does he remember that Frodo and Sam, not to mention Aragorn and his company, are saved by Divine Intervention?
There came Gwaihir the Windlord, and Landroval his brother, greatest of all the Eagles of the North, mightiest of the descendents of old Thorondor, who built his eyries in the inaccessible peaks of the Encircling Mountains when Middle-earth was young. Behind them in long swift lines came all their vassals from the northern mountains, speeding on a gathering wind. Straight down upon the Nazgul they bore, stooping suddenly out of the high airs, and the rush of their wide wings as they passed over was like a gale.
Does this mean that Santorum, like Bush, thinks that God is finally going to step in and clean up the whole mess?
Actually, forget the implications of the literary allusion. Let's look at what Santorum's really telling us.
In an interview with the editorial board of the Bucks County Courier Times, embattled Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has equated the war in Iraq with J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings." According to the paper, Santorum said that the United States has avoided terrorist attacks at home over the past five years because the "Eye of Mordor" has been focused on Iraq instead.
"As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else," Santorum said. "It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S. You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States."
It's the flypaper theory gussied up. He's saying that the point of the War in Iraq is to keep the terrorists fighting over there and not bothering with us over here. The idea is that thousands and thousands and thousands of Iraqis are dying, that hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of American troops are dying, so that all of us safe at home don't have to worry about another terrorist attack.
He's admitting it. The war's not about bringing the Iraqis democracy or freedom. It's not even about putting an end to terrorism.
It's about us not having to be scared.
I'd be bothered by the lack of faith this shows in Americans to be strong and brave and and in our ability to face up to the problems and dangers of living in the read world, if I weren't so disgusted by the contempt and callous disregard it shows for the lives of American troops and for the lives of the Iraqis we said we were coming to save.
But if Santorum's been re-reading Tolkien, he should do it while keeping the main theme of the trilogy in mind.
Those who seek power, even to use it to do good, are corrupted and destroyed by it.
`You are wise and fearless and fair, Lady Galadriel,' said Frodo. `I will give you the One Ring, if you ask for it. It is too great a matter for me.'
Galadriel laughed with a sudden clear laugh. `Wise the Lady Galadriel may be,' she said, `yet here she has met her match in courtesy. Gently are you revenged for my testing of your heart at our first meeting. You begin to see with a keen eye. I do not deny that my heart has greatly desired to ask what you offer. For many long years I had pondered what I might do, should the Great Ring come into my hands, and behold! It was brought within my grasp. The evil that was devised long ago works on in many ways, whether Sauron himself stands or falls. Would not that have been a noble deed to set credit of his Ring, if I had taken it by force or fear from my guest?
`And now at last it comes. You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!'
She lifted up her hand and from the ring that she wore there issued a great light that illuminated her alone and left all else dark. She stood before Frodo seeming now tall beyond measurement, and beautiful beyond enduring, terrible and worshipful.
That's how we know who are the best and strongest characters in the story. Galadriel, Gandalf, and Aragorn. They're the ones who when offered the Ring turn it down.
If the war---wars---the real ones in Iraq and Afghanistan and the shadow war against terror---have meant anything to the Bush Administration, they have not meant resisting the temptation to seek power.
Follow-up post: Nothing in Middle-earth happens by accident.