Oh boy, so much is happening on the Iran deal. The stakes in the political battle keep rising and reputations and careers are now at risk, maybe even regimes.
First, Senator Chuck Schumer runs from the cameras! He cancelled his media availability today. The White House may have blown his storyline by leaking the news of defection last night to foul him up.
Greg Sargent of the Washington Post says Schumer’s betrayal doesn’t likely affect the outcome one way or another.
Right now I count 14 Senators as genuinely possible votes against it: Heitkamp, Blumenthal, Donnelly, Bennet, Menendez, Reid, Coons, Cardin, Manchin, Booker, Carper, Peters, Casey, and Wyden.
Opponents need 13 Dems to side with them to override the veto. With Schumer, they now need 12. That means opponents need 12 of the 14 remaining Dems to side with them. Carper is now leaning towards the deal. So is Joe Manchin. So that’s a tall order.
To be clear, I am absolutely not saying it is impossible for opponents to sink the deal.
Mike DeBonis of the Post agrees; tanking the deal is a “monumental” task, and Schumer isn’t up to it. And he will still get to be Democratic leader in the Senate because he’s signaled he won’t lobby against the deal.
But Carol Giacomo at the Times says Schumer has cast his lot with Israel’s PM benjamin Netanyahu, and he should pay a price.
Given Mr. Schumer’s wrong-headed and irresponsible decision, Democrats may want to reconsider whether he is the best candidate to be their next leader in the Senate, a job he desperately wants.
Schumer did it for political reasons, Walter Shapiro says. He’s up for reelection next year and wants the donations:
This all about Schumer wanting a no-sweat reelection so he can campaign for Dem senators nationally.
The group leading the opposition to the deal, AIPAC, has lied to the New York Times about its support for the Iraq war. Its spokesperson Marshall Wittmann tells the Times, “To remove any misinformation or confusion, AIPAC took no position whatsoever on the Iraq war, nor did we lobby on this issue — this is an entirely false and misleading argument.”
But Eli Clifton blows AIPAC up:
In January 2003, The New York Sun’s David Twersky reported:
“According to Mr. [Howard] Kohr, AIPAC’s successes over the past year also include guaranteeing Israel’s annual aid package and ‘quietly’ lobbying Congress to approve the use of force in Iraq.”
And that’s not the only instance in which AIPAC’s support of the Iraq War has been reported.
In April 2003, Nathan Guttman reported for Haaretz:
“AIPAC is wont to support whatever is good for Israel, and so long as Israel supports the war, so too do the thousands of the AIPAC lobbyists who convened in the American capital.”
That same April, The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank reported that AIPAC’s Steve Rosen, serving as a panel moderator during the group’s annual conference, exclaimed, “God willing, we’re going to have a great victory in Iraq.”
Benjamin Netanyahu’s career is also on the line. Pat Buchanan says that Obama should channel Eisenhower and make his friends and enemies respect him, and bring down the Netanyahu government for lobbying against his signal foreign policy achievement:
The president should declare [Ron] Dermer persona non grata and send him packing, then tell the Israeli government we will discuss a new arms package when you have a prime minister who understands that no nation interferes in the internal affairs of the United States. None.
That could bring Bibi’s government, with its single-vote majority, crashing down. And why not? After all, Bibi was a virtual surrogate for Mitt Romney when Mitt was trying to bring down Obama. Obama and Kerry are never running again. Deep down, they would surely relish taking Bibi down. And they could do it.
Back to Schumer. The “venom” is flowing online, the Washington Post says. You betcha. Will someone primary Schumer next spring? Zephyr Teachout who ran for governor and lost to Andrew Cuomo tweeted today that he’s out of step with the public:
Senator Schumer is wrong to oppose the Iran deal. I hope he listens to New Yorkers and changes his position.
Here’s Schumer supporting the Iraq war back in 2002. Big mistake.
I have searched my mind and my soul and cannot escape this conclusion: Saddam Hussein left unfettered will at some point create such a danger to our lives that we cannot afford to leave him be.
He searched his soul this time too! “after deep study, careful thought and considerable soul-searching, I have decided I must oppose the agreement.”
Obama’s ad guy from previous campaigns, Mark Putnam, is abandoning him on the Iran Deal. Dana Milbank reports he’s gone to work for the AIPAC front group, Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, which is raking in millions:
“I am more grateful to President Obama than I can ever express for being able to help him in two presidential campaigns,” Putnam told me via e-mail. “I have strongly supported every other initiative he has undertaken. On this issue, however, I, like other Democrats, have a heartfelt position against the agreement.”
For Obama, it probably brings to mind the old adage: If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.
The Jewish community is in turmoil over the deal and organizations are rising and falling. The National Jewish Democratic Council supported the deal. Here’s some of the vitriol directed at them, per Dylan Williams of J Street.
Classy. Here’s a more hopeful story. The Jewish Federation of LA blew it; the execs opposed the Iran Deal in the name of Jewish safety worldwide! Jews in LA rose up in outrage. Now it’s changing its line, “following public outcry.”
Stating that the Iran Agreement is “complex, ” [the latest] email acknowledged a variety of opinions within the Jewish community on the deal, in contrast to the first email, which asked recipients to lobby Congress, saying “it is imperative that our elected officials hear our voice.”
Three weeks ago this is what the LA Jewish Fed said in urging Jews to oppose the deal.
The proposed agreement with Iran is not a partisan issue; it impacts the security of the United States, the stability of the Middle East, the future of the State of Israel and the safety of every Jewish family and community around the world. This Iran deal threatens the mission of our Federation as we exist to assure the continuity of the Jewish people, support a secure State of Israel, care for Jews in need here and abroad and mobilize on issues of concern.
Speaking of Jewish safety, USA Today reports that Iran’s Jewish community, of as many as 30,000 souls, is behind the accord:
“There was lots of joy for us,” said Horiel, a Jewish customer who declined to give his last name. “It was not only the Jewish community that was happy. The nation was happy.”
Most Iranian Jews strongly disagree with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s denunciations of the accord.
The New York Times columnist David Brooks has made a “fanatical case” against the Iran Deal, says Daniel Larison in American Conservative:
[A] major diplomatic success for the U.S. and its allies that comes at remarkably low cost for us is classed as a “strategic defeat” by some of the same people that urged the U.S. to launch a ruinous, costly war that also happened to be the biggest strategic blunder of the last forty years. Brooks’ argument is full of tendentious and faulty analysis, which is just what we would expect from someone that enthusiastically endorsed the Iraq war.
Here’s Brooks’s column: “3 U.S. Defeats: Vietnam, Iraq and Now Iran.” Obama shouldn’t have taken the military option off the table. We had Iran squirming, but they’re tougher than we are. You go to war to get someone to do something they don’t want to do. Not a word about Israel, but Brooks’s portrait is informed by Israel:
Iran is a fanatical, hegemonic, hate-filled regime….
What if it isn’t? What if it’s a society of 80 million mostly educated people trying to maintain its end of a regional power struggle?
War is coming later, Brooks says. “Iran will use its $150 billion windfall to spread terror around the region and exert its power.” More Israel propaganda there.
Finally, Ali Abunimah on twitter keeps saying that I’m leaving out the cost to Palestinians of the deal. Yes; I think the lobby’s at the root of the problem and we are defeating the lobby. Abunimah wrote about the extra weapons Israel is extorting from America in the White House’s effort to sell the deal. Obama gave Israel another $1.9 billion in arms in the spring and that was just a downpayment…
Those who believe that the Iran deal is likely to open a breach in US-Israeli relations that might even be beneficial to the Palestinians are therefore likely to be disappointed…. Netanyahu too must know he cannot stop it, but what he can do is extort more concessions and handouts from the United States.
Israel’s tactic is always to scream and cry in hopes of getting more of what it wants. And it works.