President Bush says last week's election shows Iraq "will serve as a beacon for what is possible; a beacon of freedom in a part of the world that is desperate for freedom and liberty ... I'm very optimistic about the way forward for the Iraqi people."
He is optimistic, even though:
•Ayad Allawi, leader of a secular Shiite coalition (and consequently, Our Guy In Iraq), is being creamed by a group of religious Shiites.
•That religious group -- the United Iraqi Alliance -- is backed by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a Shiite cleric who is supposed to be Our Guy In Iraq because Bush says Islam is a religion of peace. Except in Iran, a country run by Shiite clerics.
•Alas, Ayad Allawi isn't even in second place; he's also sucking hind teat to the Iraqi Consensus Front, a religious Sunni Arab group. What's better to U.S. interests than an Iraq run by Shiite clerics? Of course: An Iraq run by Shiite and Sunni clerics.
On the upside, Ahmad Chalabi -- formerly Our Guy In Iraq, until he got too close to Iran -- drew less than a half of 1 percent of the Baghdad vote. He may not even get a seat in government. Most of them will be taken by people who want a religious Shiite government.
It's 500 years since the Safavids took over Iraq. Past, meet future.