Thursday, August 13, 2015

Say it ain't so, Chuck!

Who says all Jews are against this nuclear treaty?  Chuck Schumer must have had to do a double take seeing these anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews outside his Manhattan office this week.  For whatever reasons of his own, and I hope it isn't for the sake of Israel, Schumer has decided to come down against the treaty.  Gary Samore, who was a principal figure in the negotiations, says it is a shame that the Senate vote is shaping up to be a purely partisan vote with little thought put into the agreement itself.  John Kerry has been even more blunt, threatening all kinds of dire consequences if Congress rejects the deal.

Fortunately, for the White House, Schumer is the lone Democrat to publicly state his opposition to the deal.  Other Democrats who have been sitting on the fence now seem willing to support the White House on Iran, but Schumer hasn't ruled out making a pitch of his own to convince these Democratic senators to join him and the Republicans.  After all, he is the prospective Democratic Senate Leader.

It is really a shame that both sides can't come to a pragmatic solution to the standoff with the White House willing to give some latitude to Congress when it comes to enforcement of the agreement, as Samore noted.  But, the WH is convinced that Republicans don't want to deal at all, preferring to play hardball, so Team Obama's aim is to make sure Mitch McConnell doesn't get the 13 Democrats he needs to override a Presidential veto.

Nothing new here.  This is the way it has been for virtually every bill, authorization and nomination the White House has tried to push through the Senate.  One of the rare times Obama found himself in agreement with Republicans was over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, only to find himself at odds with Democrats.  He probably hoped for a little quid pro quo on Iran but none is forthcoming.  The Republicans have dug in their heels largely because they made it into a big campaign issue and they can't very well back down now, otherwise they would be conceding even more ground to the human hair piece who has hijacked the Republican presidential campaign.

Nahal Toosi wrote a good piece for Politico showing that polls are split on the issue, largely dependent on how the question is framed.  An Economist poll found 51 per cent of Americans in favor, whereas a Qunnipac poll found 57 per cent of Americans against the deal.  David Brooks speciously chose to reference a Wall Street Journal poll that found only 1/3 of Americans in favor of the agreement, but what he failed to note was that only 1/3 were against it, and the other 1/3 didn't know enough to offer an opinion.

To some degree the White House is guilty of not doing enough early on to ease Congressional Republicans' fears over the deal.  Of course, it doesn't help when you had Bibi Netanyahu shouting to everyone within earshot how awful the idea was to begin with, but the WH could have done more outreach here.  They could have brought in Israeli leaders who support the deal, making it known that Netanyahu speaks mostly for himself and his right-wing supporters.  Instead, you have to go digging in blogs to find links to the Haaretz article above.

In the end, the White House will probably win this battle, but at what price?  It will most assuredly remain a fiery campaign issue, as virtually all the GOP candidates have come down against it.  Only Rand Paul has tentatively given his support for it, but most likely will join Republicans against the deal in the upcoming vote.  After all, he signed that ridiculous open letter Tom Cotton penned some months back.

As for Schumer, he seems to be walking a very fine line here.  He has kept his opposition relatively muted.  It doesn't seem he wants to start a war within the Democratic Party, especially with so much at stake in next year's elections.  He saw what that got Mary Landrieu, who chose to draw a line on Keystone XL at the end of last year, only to come up one vote short.

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