On Thursday, Jonathan Bernstein provided some real insight on a side of things I hadn’t much thought about, The Iran Deal and US Politics. I was most struck by what he said about public opinion, “President Barack Obama is extremely unlikely to get a short-term public opinion bounce from the deal announced today that outlines next steps in curbing Iran’s nuclear program.” If he had started bombing Iran, well then, his approval rating might shoot up to over 50%. Leave it to Americans to be happy about something we know they would complain about in short order. But the main thing is that while Americans may live their lives in terror about Iran, they aren’t at all interested in the actual work of governments to reduce that threat.
Now Senator Bob Corker has proposed a bill that would limit, and potentially eliminate, the President’s ability to lift most of the sanctions against Iran. He can do this because it is a matter of national security. I’ve never been so keen on all of this kind of Unitary Executive Theory garbage. But the right of the President to manage foreign affairs is established in the Constitution and by tradition. But the Republicans, who always claim they want a “strong” President, decide against that the moment the President doesn’t see his job as going to war at every opportunity.
Of course, it isn’t just Republicans. Many Democrats in Congress are for doing this as well. This is why this is potentially a threat to the deal with Iran. It is possible that Corker’s bill could get enough support from Democrats that it would be able to overcome a veto. In the Senate, 13 Democrats would be needed. But here’s the shocking thing, “In the Senate, nine Democrats have already signed on as cosponsors… with several more supporters said to be waiting in the wings.” Just brilliant. When it comes to NSA spying or unrestricted drone killings or bank bailouts while homeowners get screwed, the Democrats in Congress can’t get in the way of the President. But on this issue, the Democrats are going to take a stand? Unbelievable.
And who is one of the biggest supporters? Only the future Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. He’s a multiple threat: a Wall Street hack and apparently someone who thinks that Israel ought to be dictating US Middle East policy. The thing is, all this “tough on Iran” business is nonsense. The deal we are looking at is really good. And this is all reminding me of the budget deal that John Boehner passed up in 2011. In 2012, Obama allegedly chided him, “You should have taken that deal when you had the chance.” We aren’t going to get a better deal with Iran. And to those many people who think that the Iranian regime is on the verge of collapse, I have one word: Cuba. (Of course, most of these same people think that after 50 years, Cuba is on the verge of cracking too.)
It is possible that the excellent Iran deal framework will change some minds — at least in the Democratic Party. But it is hard to say. The truth is that all this anti-Iran hysteria is not based upon a rational analysis. It is rather based upon the same old irrational belief that our enemies are monsters who just can’t be trusted to act in their own interests. And that very clearly isn’t the case. If this is the hill that Democrats want to die on with respect to standing up to the President, it will be very sad for this country.