In the last 24 hours, it has become clear that President Obama is going to win his Iran deal inside the American government, maybe overwhelmingly; that the Congress is going to fail to veto it by a large margin. And that the fencesitters will fall into line with the president. Here are the reasons for my confidence:
1. Benjamin Netanyahu. Obama is now running against Netanyahu on this deal and it is a winning strategy. He uses his name again and again. Chris Matthews said the other night that Americans don’t like him. Opposition to the deal is now firmly associated with Netanyahu, and this is a great thing for the battle. “Can you imagine the politics of this deal if Israel had a sophisticated, attractive, eloquent leader?” James North said to me today.
2. Barack Obama. The late bloomer is in the springtime of his presidency. His confidence, his sense of the moment– the way he took on the critics of the deal in his press conference on Wednesday may have changed everything. Give me everything you got, he said, and two or three times mentioned Netanyahu in shooting the questions down. The anger he showed when Major Garrett said he was “content” to leave four American prisoners in Iran– and the intelligence he showed when he explained that linking the prisoners to the deal would have been a mistake — we are seeing Obama in full, and he is becoming a great leader. (Also did you see the way he turned on a reporter’s question in the El Reno prison in Oklahoma yesterday to say, There but for the grace of God go I, and many of you reporters too, because we made the same mistakes as these prisoners did, but had a support system they lacked– incredible).
3. The American people. It is obvious to anyone who has their ear to the ground that a large majority of the American people want this deal, want a new chapter in the Middle East that does not include drone assassinations and people they know coming home with brain injuries and prosthetic limbs. Here is J Street’s appeal.
Call your Congressperson. We are the majority! Opponents of the deal – many of whom are the same people who brought us the invasion of Iraq – are already hard at work.
CNN says 53 percent of Americans supported the deal in April, it’s bound to be higher now.
The deal represents the US zeitgeist. Charleston, prison reform, Cuba; the belief that people can change, the people’s rage against war as an answer. Shapeshifter Matthew J. Dowd, George W. Bush’s former pollster, speaks for many when he says we need to turn the page on a broken policy:
i am surprised by GOP who advocates for change, but thinks a 50 yr old Cuba policy and 30 yr. Iran policy should still be in place.
why do some require more data and verification on the path to peace than on path to war? difference in approach to Iraq and Iran is amazing.
i will find it astonishing if bipartisan majority votes against Iran deal, and voted for Iraq War. less trustworthy intelligence on Iraq.
4. The establishment. Dianne Feinstein is going to support the deal, according to a well-placed friend. Nancy Pelosi supported it strongly last night. The National Jewish Democratic Coalition came out strongly for it today. Diplomats and nuclear experts are lining up to support it. Ambassador Power has been outspoken, spending some capital. The Carnegie Center and the Atlantic Council have held events extremely supportive of the deal.
Just look at the politics as laid out by the LA Times.
The political dynamic is once again forcing some lawmakers to choose between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is leading opposition to the deal.
But Democratic senators are also displaying a reluctance to support a vote that might weaken the U.S. and Obama on the international stage. Even if a resolution of disapproval is approved by Congress, it would ultimately be vetoed by Obama. And Republicans lack the two-thirds needed to override it without some Democratic support.
Meanwhile, some Republican senators may support the accord, making it even harder for leaders of their party — which holds 54 seats in the upper chamber — to muster the 60 votes needed to advance a resolution that would unravel the deal.
5. Hillary Clinton. She’s as shrewd as they come, and she figured out she can survive supporting the deal.
6. Chuck Schumer. This is anticlimactic: The central figure in the potential opposition is bound to support the deal. The National Jewish Democratic Coalition tipped his hand for him today.
In fact, it is now dangerous politically for Schumer to oppose the deal. Reread his remarks to that Orthodox Jewish audience in June warning them that when it comes to dual loyalty, he has to put aside the interests of the Jewish people and support the interests of the American people. Well, you cannot have a clearer expression of the American interest than we are seeing right now. Hillary Clinton has done the spadework for him. Jonathan Chait, neocon-lite, is a bellwether of Jewish establishment support. Schumer will defer to the political moment that Barack Obama has created. He will come out for the deal with many giant reservations.
Former Obama Pentagon official Ilan Goldenberg said at the Carnegie Center event yesterday that Israel had all these fearful reasons why it’s against the deal, but the US government is not going to “let the tail wag the dog.” Hearing a Jewish former Pentagon official even suggest that the tail can wag the dog and that’s a bad thing– that’s Iraq War Redux, it means that the cat is out of the bag. Schumer won’t go near this. He can’t be seen to embrace Netanyahu.
7. The left is rising. Look at the fantastic coalition that the National Iranian American Council put together to support the deal. It’s impressive. Jewish Voice for Peace, Code Pink, Peace Now, AFSC, ADA, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Win Without War, the Friends Committee on National Legislation. This is our answer to neoconservatism, a multicultural coalition that is for peace not war. I guess J Street couldn’t be seen with this mob, too bad for them.
Notice the frank rebuttal of dual loyalty in the appeal to me from Jewish Voice for Peace:
Tell Rep. Sean Maloney, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: you work for me, not for Netanyahu. Support diplomacy, not war.
And notice the open acknowledgment of Israel’s nuclear defiance:
Our opponents are getting desperate, Philip…. Israeli leaders, AIPAC, and other opponents of the deal are whipping up fear to try and prevent any kind of diplomatic deal. But here’s the thing: while they shout about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Israel has quietly maintained a nuclear program without signing any international treaties.
8. American Jews. The deal is causing them to turn openly against the Israel lobby and the identification with the warmongering state.
J Street is leading establishment Jewish opinion. It put out a poll showing that 59 percent of American Jews support a final agreement like this one. They are demonstrating an old political principle that Schumer stood up for: if you are going to test us on dual loyalty, we are going to pull out our American flags.
Now look at the portrait that the Wall Street Journal offers of Jews in this article about the political pressures on Democrats over the deal. They are caught between two competing urges.
“Liberals view the pact as preferable to the risk of war with Iran, which Obama has painted as the stark alternative. On the other hand, pro-Israel constituents, some of whom are big campaign donors, worry that lifting sanctions will make Israel vulnerable and leave Iran flush with cash to support terrorist activities.”
Do American Jews want to be on the side of those conservative warmongering donors? No. But the WSJ says that Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Bob Menendez and Bill Nelson of FL all have lots of Jews in their constituencies, and even more serious is the case of Jon Tester of Montana, who is head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; he must worry about how his vote on the issue will affect his fundraising abilities.
Again, the Iran deal reveals the fact that Jews who support Israel support war. The curtain of Iraq has been pulled back. What a moment for Jewish identity; and I tell you: young Jews are going to run away from this identification with their hair on fire, Jewish public opinion is shifting before our eyes.
9. The Israel lobby. AIPAC has told its employees to forget their summer vacation and fight this deal, but Ron Kampeas also reports that they know they’re going to lose.
AIPAC insiders say they know they might lose this time, too, but say they have little choice given the existential threats they believe the deal poses to Israel.
Wolf Blitzer and Ilan Goldenberg have both said in recent days that the greatest danger of all to Israel is the continued fraying of the special relationship between the countries, and the ways that Israel is becoming a partisan (Republican) issue. A lot of us love that this is happening, but smarter heads in the lobby are going to realize they have a doubly losing hand and are going to stop fighting the president, soon, and turn to the real problem, #1.